So you’re aiming to win new business. You’ve figured out your position, strengths and weaknesses. Your challenge now is to craft a compelling message that wows your customer and proves you are the best choice.
Your headline needs to get your target’s attention. It has to be eye-catching, grab interest and be relevant for the person who’s reading or listening. You can’t simply dash this off and assume it’s good enough. It has to pass the “so what?” test.
Write a sentence or headline or opening paragraph for your pitch or idea, and then ask, “so what?”. Would anyone care? Would the customer care? Would the reader care?
If not, you need to think again.
The words you choose for your headline are important. Abstract nouns like “solution” or “honesty” or “harmonization” won’t conjure up images in your reader’s head. Words like that require them to work harder to understand what you’re saying.
On the other hand, common nouns – words like “dollars,” “sheep,” “garbage,” “robot” or “computer” – paint a picture so your readers can envision immediately what you’re talking about.
Abstract nouns are used too often in business without need. Words like “synergies”, “paradigms” and “solutions” don’t help the reader to understand what you’re really trying to say. Nor do they make you sound clever.
So don’t use words like these in headlines. Stick with simple, common nouns.
Be sure to use active rather than passive verbs. Consider how much more lively the sentence, “John ate the cake,” is than “The cake was eaten by John.” Headlines and sentences should communicate who’s doing what and why as fast as possible.
When you write your headline, take a cue from the tabloids. They’re good at grabbing readers’ attention quickly with messages like “Terror as plane hits ash cloud,” “Nitwit hits Twitter with writ” and the classic, “Ford to city: Drop dead.”
Compare those with standard business whitepaper headlines:
“Securities law must prioritize investor protection: official.”
Which you would rather read?