Headlines. Heartlines. Gutlines. Groinlines.
Maybe we’re writing too many headlines and not enough heart-lines. Maybe we’re appealing too much to the brain and not enough to the heart, guts or gonads. Maybe that’s because we’re trying to write “headlines.”
We in advertising should know better than anyone the influence of an unconscious connotation. We should also know that the best way to overcome that unconscious tendency is to create a new one.
If we can advertise to change other people’s minds and, then we can advertise to ourselves too by choosing the words and images we use.
So here’s what I do. After I’ve been writing “headlines” for a while, I tell myself that I’m not going to write some “heartlines.” Heartlines aim to evoke emotion. While a headline might read, “5 Ways to Write Better Headlines.” Or, “Why your best headlines aren’t headlines.”
A heartline might read, “Pack more power in your headlines.” Or, “They’ll never ignore your headlines again.” Or “Imagine a world in which your ads actually get written.” Or, “Here’s more power to inspire people from the first seven words.” Or, “I used to write headlines… until I had something really important to say.”
After the well of heartlines starts to run dry, I switch to writing some “gutlines.” Gut lines aim to smack people in the gut, to first and foremost get a gut reaction. For example, “No one reads your headlines.” Or, “Your headlines are boring.”
When the gutline well starts turning up half-empty pots, I start writing “groinlines.” Groinlines are just what they sound like. They go for the general vicinity of the gonads. They can be sexy. They can be funny. They aim to turn you on or turn your head. A groinline for this post might go like this, “Headlines. Heartlines. Gutlines. Groinlines.”
Nice, I think I’ll go with that one! Glad I didn’t just write headlines. Go ahead and give it a try. Sometimes I think we are only as good as the assignments we give ourselves. By assigning more than headlines, I keep myself writing and trying new things long after most people give up.
Some of those other lines might make good Tweets or test headlines in an A/B split. This approach also speeds things up. I spent about ten minutes on the first draft of this post. And I’m going to publish it just like this. Later, I’ll share my edits and I’ll tell you about them too. If it helps you write better lines, then I’ll be happy. And that’s from the heart.