It’s sad to think about…
But according to a reliable source, i.e. the internet, it’s entirely plausible that Goofy – yes that Goofy, Disney character – suffered the tragic loss of his wife and most of the members of his extended family.
Why do I bring this up?
My subject line is the title of an article I came across a while back.
And I thought it was clever.
(The rest of the article is pretty amusing too. You can find it via “the” Google if you’re interested. It seems in cartoons during the fifties Goofy had a wife, but when Disney rebooted the character in the nineties with Goof Troop, he was found to be raising his son alone. No explanation offered. This prompted speculation online about her fate, and the fate of other family members who, similarly, are hinted at but never make an appearance.)
Back to the article’s title.
It implies tongue-in-cheek humor, curiosity…even a pinch of dread.
I mean, how does a cartoon character, let alone a Disney one, wind up with a biography like that?
Titles, like email subject lines, are meant to entice you to read on.
The best ones evoke an emotional reaction of some kind, just like you probably smirked a little or went “wtf?” when you read the subject of my email just now.
Anyway, something to ponder as you dream up your own subject lines, titles, and headlines.
If you’d like to go a bit deeper, I’ve included a brief article below (only about 500 words) that deconstructs this further by peering into deceptive media headlines.
And if you’d like a few simple formulas for how to write subject lines and headlines that are almost impossible to ignore, my book Stealth Email Secrets is filled with concrete examples that can make your life easier (and more profitable) when it comes to marketing.
Get your copy here:
Until next time…
A Copywriter’s Rules To Avoid Being “Duped” By Headlines
If you’d like to know a professional copywriter’s insider secrets to avoid being misled by the media’s headlines, then you might find this brief article fascinating.
You see, copywriters, like journalists, spend a lot of time breaking down, analyzing and learning how to write compelling headlines. This puts us in a unique position to understand what makes them “tick”.
The first rule is simply to not be confused about a headline’s purpose. Just like direct-response copywriters need people to read our sales offers, journalism is a business first and foremost. Media outlets need eyeballs on their content.
The headline’s job is not to inform. Rather, the job of any headline is to capture attention with the goal of getting you to read, watch, or listen to the story or message, nothing more. For this reason, there must be some important context which is left out; otherwise, why would you need to go deeper?
When you remember that headlines deliberately leave out details which are explained in the body of the article, and that these details provide necessary context, you’ll read openers with a more critical eye. The problem is most people don’t read whole articles; instead, they scan headlines, which can only give you an incomplete picture.
It’s also important to note headlines that do their job well typically pack an emotional punch. This often requires drama, a hint of the sensational, curiosity, wrenching on powerful emotions like fear and outrage, or some combination of the above.
Let’s take a look at a couple of examples in health reporting:
One is from The Toronto Star, Just 60 Seconds of Intense Exercise Can Boost Your Fitness Level. Why is this a solid appeal? The idea of getting fitter with such a small amount of exercise sounds counter intuitive, for one. That contrast serves up a little curiosity already baked in. It also speaks to the fantasy people have of getting fit more easily, or faster.
In the article, the study compared 10 minutes of interval training with 45 minutes of traditional cardio for its effects on V02 max. However, V02 max is only one small parameter of fitness. Even the study’s author said that “60 seconds is all you need” was not the right conclusion to draw, contrary to what the article’s headline implies.
The second is a press release entitled, Exercise, More Than Diet, Key To Preventing Obesity. The attention-grabbing features here are (i) “Key to preventing obesity” is a dramatic claim. Most people know obesity is a big problem. Also (ii) “Exercise vs. Diet” is an ongoing debate, so it’s topical. But guess what? The study wasn’t an even an obesity study. It examined metabolic indicators in rats to determine the impact of exercise on metabolism…independently of weight loss.
It’s also wise to inspect the source of the headline. Do they have an agenda? Truly objective reporting is an endangered species in today’s business and political ecosystem.
Bottom line: there’s an art to writing headlines that seduce people away from other stuff they could be doing and effectively “steal” their attention. With the tips in this article you’ll be better able to resist their subtle persuasion tactics.
When a headline hits you in the gut, let that be your cue to have a peak beneath the surface and scan the article or content. More often than not, you’ll discover some detail missing from the headline that can lessen its impact.