Need a Catchy Headline? Unleash Your Corporate Id

Which are you more likely to read? ‘Frankenstorm’ forecast for East Coast’ or ‘Mainly benign weather presents the calm before Hurricane Sandy’s impact.' I know which one’s earned my click, despite the content being pretty much the same.

We all like to think our content is the most important thing in the world – and, to us, it likely is. But to the greater world – even to your loyal customers, brand advocates, friends, and family – it’s part of an all-out assault on their senses and time.

Sometimes businesses who are entering the social world forget this. You know what you’re posting on your blog, updating on your Facebook page, and Tweeting; but your audiences aren’t as hard-wired to your content. They check their pages sporadically and hundreds of Tweets can roll by without them ever seeing it. In addition to white noise on social media, you’re also competing with news sites, other forms of media, and life.

So how do you stand out? By writing teaser copy that intrigues. 

It isn’t about writing the funniest, punniest, most-sarcastic titles, Nor is it about shocking your audience. It’s about writing enticing, intriguing teasers that catch your readers’ eyes.

Look at the examples above: “mainly benign” = “predominantly boring.” It may be true, but it’s essentially like saying, “a less-drab shade of beige.” Now Frankenstorm? Heck, I don’t even live on the east coast, but I’m clicking.

When it comes to blog posts, press releases, Tweets, Facebook updates, and other forms of communications, my experience has been that businesses (as directed by the C-suite) want to shove as much in a title as they can. The idea is, “stick all the branding buzzwords in so we don’t miss anyone with this message.” The result? A sleep-inducing title that ends up pleasing no one in trying to please everyone.

“Corporation X is pleased to announce its revolutionary scalable, modular system for enterprise management.” Ugh.

You’re marketing your business, so think advertising. What do you see in print and Web ads? Short, dynamic copy that focuses on the “What’s in it for me?” message. 

Sadly, many companies think with their Ego and not their Id. Their conscious mind thinks people want comprehensive details right up front; they think in terms of what they want their customers to search for – not what they are actually using. And in the great quest for brand identity, they forget that people will embrace brands only if it makes sense – otherwise, they’re going to use plain speech.

So why not unleash your Corporate Id? Find out what moves you. What terms catch your eye? What types of articles attract your attention? It almost certainly not the ones that start with, “Company X restructures sales and IT department in advance of Q3 reporting data.”

Oh, and in releasing your Business Id, make sure that your Superego’s around for balance. The Id has a tendency to delve into some inappropriate-for-business place – Google Kenneth Cole and Egypt, for an example.

There’s a reason why newspaper headlines are the way they are – people’s time is valuable, so you have to entice them to invest it in your content. That decision is made within seconds through a casual scan. And that’s why every word has to matter.

Matter not to you, but your readership. 

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