The ability of a headline to attract attention, then lead the reader deeper into the content is the make or break skill of copywriting, and even in this world of video, the ability to write a headline remains the single most important skill in effective communication.

No matter how good the body-copy, without a great headline, it will not get read.

Pretty much all my clients are small and medium businesses, and run pretty lean. As a result they often write their own copy then wonder why it does not work. Like many skills, the individual differences between a professional and an OK amateur can seem small and hardly worth the money, but they usually add up in the end to a huge difference in the outcome.

So here is a headline template that always works.

Use combinations of these elements:

  • Number
  • Trigger word
  • Adjective
  • Keyword
  • Promise

Let’s say the subject is a training seminar about managing cash flow.

Pretty dry stuff but of vital importance to any business,  and make or break for small business.

The easy and obvious headlines may be:

‘How to manage your cash flow’ or

‘Cash flow basics for beginners’

However, if you apply the headline template you might come up with something like:

‘7 simple techniques to apply cash flow to your business to make more profit’

Let’s break it down.

Number: 7. For reasons I do  not fully understand, but rooted in psychology, odd numbers  work best, and lists in headlines work as they promise to deliver instant gratification.

Trigger words: Simple. Words like Free, Secret, Undiscovered, Expert, all offer incentive to open

Adjective: Manage. Adjectives are ‘action ‘ words, they reflect and prompt activity.

Keyword: Cash Flow. Cash flow is the guts of the post, and is the word that will deliver the search engine enquiries that are relevant to the post.

Promise: ‘Make more profit’ well, who in business does not want more profit?

Alternatively, your  headline might be:

‘Join us to learn the 7 secrets to greater profits through managing cash flow’

I do not know which would be the better headline, I am not a professional copywriter, but I am pretty sure both would work well.

An option if you were about to make an investment, such as in a public seminar series, and generating a lot of interest rather than just capturing eyeballs on a blog post was financially critical, you could set about testing them by applying an  A/B test which is pretty easy on social media platforms. Then you could use the better one, or perhaps do some more ‘wordsmithing’ to improve one or both for further testing.

As evidence of how the template works, the headline that caught you in the first place is the third iteration of the first one I scratched down, which was :’Killer headline template that always works’. Having written the post to articulate for you a template that really works, I realised I had better take my own advice.

You tell me if it worked.