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What’s the true job of a headline?

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A headline can have many jobs.

It needs to grab the reader’s attention.

It needs to resonate with them.

It needs to match where they’re coming from.

And, as you might have learned from the copywriting legends – it needs to make the reader want to read the next line of copy.

It’s the slippery slide.

But I believe there’s also another, subtler goal for your headline (and crossheads).

It needs to be a launchpad.

Matthew McConaughey talks about it in the context of acting in his book, Greenlights:

Over the years I’ve come to call the kind of line in a script that can send me flying a “launchpad” line. This script was for Dazed and Confused. The line that sent me into flight was: “That’s what I love about these high school girls, man. I get older, they stay the same age.” Wooderson was twenty-two years old but still hanging out around the high school. That line opened up an entire world into who he was, an encyclopedia into his psyche and spirit.

This is exactly what I mean…

Your headline, to be truly gripping, exciting and motivating, needs to launch your reader into a different world.

It needs to open up their mind to who they (or their company in the case of B2B) could be, if they only used your product.

And pay attention, it merely needs to “open up” their minds to the possibility. A headline shouldn’t and couldn’t do it all.

Don’t even try to help them land in that new world.

Just let them take a peek, but a peek so mouth-watering, so world-shattering that they have no reason not to think of your brand and product as something they need.

Every time you sit down and write a headline, or a hook for any piece of content, ask “What would make the reader launch into a new way of thinking about themselves?”.

Because, remember – it’s always all about themselves and their view of the world.

Even for a marketer in a team of 100+ people.

Their career or reputation is at stake anytime they make a product recommendation to stakeholders.

It’s about themselves at first and then it expands into the consequences for their company.

But when you think of your headline as simply a launchpad, your job becomes much easier.

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