08/12/2011

By Jackie Barrie, Copywriter, Trainer & Author at Comms Plus

Looking for inspiration for your next ezine, blog post or tweet? Then take a tip from Cosmopolitan magazine, which is inhabited by some of the world’s best headline writers. Just adapt their words to suit your own product or service, and watch your click-throughs soar!

To give you some idea, here are the Cosmo headlines from one day, with my suggested tweaks in italic, for various occupations:

1. Health news you need to know now

Accountant: Tax news you need to know now

Plumber: Plumbing news you need to know now

Coach: Leadership news you need to know now

2. Pretty hairstyles to try this party season

Graphic designer: Lovely logos to suit the autumn

Insurance: Effective ways to protect your business during an economic slowdown

Retailer: Perfect gifts for that hard-to-buy-for person at Christmas

3. Why online dating may be harder than you think

Mechanic: Why an annual car service may be harder than you think

Event organiser: Why arranging your wedding may be harder than you think

Independent Financial Adviser: Why choosing the right mortgage may be harder than you think

4. Five new tricks for dropping lbs

Dentist: Five new ways to protect your gums

Photographer: Five new ways to restore lost image files

Marketeer: Five new ways to launch a product to market

5. This will put you in the mood (for the holidays)

IT expert: This will put you in the mood (for implementing a backup strategy)
Web designer: This will put you in the mood (for updating your website)
Electrician: This will put you in the mood (for having your wiring checked)

6. Celebrity fashion that makes us sad

Window cleaner: Windows that make me sad

Copywriter: Sales letters that make me happy

Composer: Music that makes me sad

7. Adele opens up to Cosmo!

Hotel: Our Chief Exec opens up to [Name]!
Charity: Our Patron opens up to [Name]!
PR: [Any celebrity] opens up to [Name]!

8. Take our quick poll!

This is the odd one out. Anyone can use this heading, unchanged, anytime.

9. Relationship #Fail: Worst stories ever

SEO: Google #Fail: Worst stories ever

Printer: Print #Fail: Worst stories ever

Telecoms: Telecoms #Fail: Worst stories ever


So, what’s Cosmo’s secret? For one, they really know their market. The above headlines cover only three topics because that’s what their readers want: Sex/Relationships (3, 5 and 9), Appearance (1, 2 and 4) and Celebrities (6 and 7).

For another, they use the word YOU more than the word WE, US or OUR (it’s obvious in 1, 3 and 5; implied in 2 and 4).

And finally, a couple of points to note about no. 9:

- ‘#Fail’ has crept into the language via Twitter

- Top tip: Language is constantly evolving and you need to keep up-to-date, especially if you are writing for a youthful audience

- People will read ‘world’s worst’ headlines more than ‘world’s best’ headlines

I hope this quick’n'easy approach to headline-writing helps you. When you get used to it, it’s a doddle! To be honest, I found it harder to pick the example occupations than I did to write the adapted headlines! I would love to know what you think.


Jackie Barrie writes without waffle for websites, blogs, newsletters, brochures, leaflets and speeches, in fact, anything to help your company make more money. She is the author of ‘The Little Fish Guide to DIY Marketing’ and ‘The Little Fish Guide to Networking’. Find out more at www.comms-plus.co.uk or 0845 899 0258


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