“I’ve read the books, gone to the seminars, and read till my eyes were bloodshot, but I still can’t say if a headline is a good one or not, other than just by my gut feeling. Any suggestions?”
Let me share with you a powerful evaluating technique that comes from my colleague (and master copywriter) Bob Bly. Use his “4 U’s” to rate your headlines and I think you’ll notice a quick improvement.
The 4 U’s are Urgent, Unique, Ultra-specific and Useful. Take a piece of paper and write them down. Next write down these two headlines: “Free Ezine Subscription” (leave a couple spaces beneath it), then write “How To Get Targeted Traffic And Higher Sales… In Less Than 27 Days!”
Using a scale of 1 through 4 (with 1 being the weakest and 4 being the strongest), rate each of these headlines using the 4 U’s.
“Free Ezine Subscription”
Is this headline Urgent? On a scale of 1 to 4, what would you rate its urgency? I’d give it a “1.” Is this headline Unique? Hardly… another “1.” Is it Ultra-specific? Okay, maybe I’d give it a “2” because tell tells you it’s free and it’s an ezine. Is it Useful? Score another “1.” It’s not useful because you don’t even know what topic it covers. The total score for this headline is only a 5 out of a possible 16. Obviously, it’s not very good. Now apply the 4 U’s to the other headline I gave you.
“How to Get Targeted Traffic and Higher Sales… in Less that 27 Days!”
How would you rate it using the 4U’s system?
Sure it’d be great if every headline you wrote scored a “16,” but that’s not very realistic. Don’t concentrate too much on the numbers, other than using them as a diagnostic tool to help you improve your headline-writing skills.
To hone your headline writing skills, practice writing headlines using a variety of approaches (asking a question, a news angle, list benefits, or use a testimonial from a satisfied customer). Add subheads if you’re feeling especially creative!
Another good way to practice is to go back and look at the headlines on your current marketing materials and website. Rate them using the 4 U’s and see if there’s room for improvement. Don’t sweat it if your headlines don’t all get perfect 4’s; just try different ways to make them more attention-getting and throat-grabbing!
If you’d like to learn more about writing killer marketing copy, check out Randy Gage’s popular 12-part study course “How to Become a Copywriting Stud!” in our online Success Store.