co 5 Secrets to Compelling Headlines: The Fish of 10,000 Casts |

If you are an avid reader of this site, you’ll know that I spend a good deal of time on the water, and a portion of that time on the water is spent fishing. Living in The Land of 10,000 Lakes makes this not too difficult to do, but I also enjoy fishing everywhere our travels take us (hence our recent fishing and photographic expedition to Alaska).

Over the course of my lifetime, I am pretty sure I’ve reeled in just about every type of freshwater fish available in our northern lakes – except one. The Musky.

Walleye and bass and northern pike – all day long. Sunfish and crappie and bluegill – no problem. But muskies? Not one.

I’ve had what is referred to in fishing parlance as “a follow” – where you look down at your lure as you reel it toward the boat just in time to catch a splash and hear the water ripple as a giant musky is tempted by your lure – only to turn and swim away at the last minute. But I’ve never reeled one in.

Muskies are a sport fish – they can grow to be huge – the world record muskie, caught in Hayward, Wisconsin, was 63-1/2” long and weighed 69 lbs. – and just in case you aren’t into fishing – that’s a big freshwater fish. But you wouldn’t want to eat one.

Muskies don’t just bite at anything you throw at them – they take work. While you can go out and catch walleye with little effort, the musky is the fish of 10,000 casts. If you haven’t put in your time on the water, you won’t catch one. Muskies take sweat equity.

Advertising headlines are a lot like the elusive musky. While writing body copy comes fairly easily, the most important element of your ad or direct mail piece – the headline – takes hard work. You’ve got to put your time in “on the water” to nail one – and even the experts consistently write over 100 unique headlines for each promotion before they settle on the most compelling choice.

Fortunately – just like fishing pros use all sorts of “special tricks” to improve their musky-catching odds – copywriters use secrets of their own to consistently craft powerful, arresting headlines.

That said, here are 5 secrets you can use immediately to improve your headlines and improve your odds of reeling in your prospect:

1. Keep it Simple! The best headlines are difficult to write because you must eliminate every unnecessary word and focus on one compelling idea – one and only one. Too many ideas will confuse your reader and you’ll lose your prospect.

2. Focus on Now – Your headline needs to create a sense of urgency to break through the clutter and get your prospect to focus on what you have to say. Something isn’t going to happen – it IS happening.

3. Benefits – By reading your ad or direct mail piece, your prospect should learn something they didn’t know before. By providing an inherent benefit in your headline, you build trust with your prospect which encourages them to read further.

4. Useful – Make sure the information conveyed in your headline is useful to your prospect – implying or referring to information that they need or want to know.

5. Specific – Tell your reader what you are talking about – what will your product or service specifically do for your prospect that your competitor’s product or service will not? Tell your prospect and watch your sales grow!