How to write a headline (1): where’s your customer’s pain?

If your copy or website content hasn’t got a great headline — one that entices even the most casual reader or browser to dive in further — it doesn’t matter how sensationally persuasive the rest of your copy is. So if you don’t know the secrets of how to write a headline, you’re in danger of killing off the effectiveness of your website before you’ve even got started.

So here’s a great (and really easy) tip to help you create a really effective headline. It’s far from the only technique for creating a powerful headline, of course, and I’ll be covering the other ones in articles later on, but it’s a goodie to start with.

(And if you haven’t downloaded my free eBook yet, there are lots more ideas to help you in there, too.)

I’d particularly recommend trying this technique for business to business marketing where sometimes it’s hard to pin down a compelling reason why your potential customer should read about your product or service.

The technique works for any medium too, not just online. So for your advertising, your brochure, your emails — business to business or consumer.

The secret is this: find your customer’s pain

Ask yourself what is the customer’s problem that your product or service solves. Where is their pain? What’s the issue that they’re facing that you can offer a solution to?

  • What shall I cook for the kids when they get home from school, I’ve had a really busy day…
  • As a company, we don’t seem to have a sensible process for managing projects, documents are always flying around in multiple versions at the same time…
  • It drives me crazy when my sunglasses get all smeary…
  • Nobody seems to be opening my cold emails, I’m getting terrible responses to my cold mailings…

These are all pain-points, if you want to use the jargon. Start to put yourself inside your customer’s mind like this and you’ll suddenly find yourself approaching your marketing headlines from a completely new angle.

Take the title of this article, for example. Perhaps you clicked on “How to write a headline” because your particular pain was “I find it really difficult to write headlines”.

Write headlines from your customer’s perspective

Maybe, like many people who aren’t experienced at copywriting (especially in the business to business sector) you’ve tended to approach headline writing from your company’s perspective instead of your customer’s?

So you think along the lines of…

  • We’re a really friendly company
  • Our sales team are fully trained
  • We’ve been doing this since 1987

These are all things that are admirable and (perhaps on a slow day) potentially interesting to your customer. But they aren’t the raw material for a powerful headline because, as you can see, they don’t address the customer’s pain in any way.

Think carefully about where their pain lies and you’re 75% of the way to finding the best way to communicate the solution in a motivating, response-generating way.





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