Are Your Headlines Working?(How to Construct a Headline That Works)
In 1986, when I was 12 years old I was involved in an accident while riding my push bike home from the shops. The last thing I remember was looking though a store for a birthday gift for a friend. On my way home I took my usual shortcut through some bushland near a railway track and that was where I was told that I collided head on with an older teenager riding a motorbike. Fortunately I only suffered a concussion and broke my arm in a couple of places. The surgery involved fixing a loose bone back into place with two very expensive stainless steel screws that my surgeon told me were originally crafted to be used in space.
Crafting a statement that gets the attention of your target profile involves putting together three specific components that we have spoken about in the previous 3 posts. Today we are going to cover what this statement is and how to construct it, the desired response to it and the undesired response if you make a mistake putting it together. But without further ado here is the formula.
The trigger statement = target profile + problem + solution
First let's go back to my bike accident briefly. The first thing I noticed after I returned to my home town after an operation and with my arm in a cast was that many other people seemed to have broken their arms around the same time. Co-incidence? Unlikely. It was probably just the average number that always existed. The difference was that I was a member of this group of people so I took far more notice of everyone else in the same situation. This is what the trigger statement is doing for you too. When you craft it you need to start with the plaster cast on the arm. Your target profile needs to know you are talking directly to them, then you immediately follow with the problem and only then with your solution.
Recall that your solution needs to come directly after elevating the problem into consciousness. Not before. Let's take a look at how we might construct this statement for a business like a float tank centre. These are tanks filled with water and over 1000 pounds of salt. They are used for meditation, injury recovery and for relaxation. An example trigger statement for a float centre might be “we help elite athletes with enhanced post performance recovery that doesn’t involve the use of any drugs or potions”. First the target profile, then the problem “enhanced post performance recovery” and only then do we mention the solution. And remember that our solution is not your process which is why I didn’t even mention the float tank therapy that we offer. The reason for this is also one of curiosity. We are listening for a very particular response to this statement. Let’s find out what that is.
We call it a trigger statement because it provokes the desired response
And the desired response is going to sound something like “what do you mean by that?” or “how do you do that?”. When you hear this response you know your trigger statement is doing it’s job of getting attention and flagging down your specific target profile from amongst the crowd rushing by. The statement I made above is going to appeal to only to elite athletes who are recovering from a performance. A soccer mum will rush past this message and not see it at all. But surely this is a mistake. Aren’t we missing out on more business by only appealing to elite athletes?
Yes and no. Not doubt the soccer mums will not respond to this messaging but what about those people who aspire to become an elite athlete. The number of people in this group will be far greater than the actual number of elite athletes but they will still likely notice this statement. Remember that if you have to choose between the more or less exclusive target audience, pick the more exclusive audience because in most cases you will also hit the mark with your aspiration audience at the same time. So how do we know if our trigger statement is not working?
If your target profile responds with something like “that’s interesting” or “that’s nice” then you know you have a stinker. You need to change it up. Crafting the wrong trigger statement is like using a low quality screw when setting broken bones back into place. In the critical service the trigger statement is performing you can’t afford to use a low quality screw. You need to use a screw that can handle the rigours of space.
To illustrate let’s change the previous example statement to make it more general. Suppose we are a float tank centre we might say “we help people recover quickly from aches and pains after exercise”. This could apply to almost anyone couldn’t it? But it won’t stand out. It could sound like anyone else. There is not factor of curiosity in this statement and you are likely to get the response “that’s interesting” from your target profile and they are likely to keep walking on by. This is the first type of mistake. Not focusing on a specific niche waters down your message.
The second type of mistake is raising too many problems
Float tank therapy can help sufferers of chronic pain, fibromyalgia, stress, anxiety, depression, addiction and also help improve mental focus, meditation and clarity. If we mentioned all of these things in our statement people will tune out. There is too much information. It starts to feel overwhelming or even implausible. Surely one treatment can’t fix all of that. Even if it does you are watering your message down. This doesn’t mean you can’t address people with these other problems, just not in the same place, in the same statement. We just need one at a time. The trigger statement is crafted with one person in mind.
And we know from my broken arm experience that there is always more than one person in that same type of situation as us.
We've covered how to get more attention using a trigger statement in your headline. We learnt how it is crafted by combining the target profile, problem and solution. We then found out how we know if it is working by the response we get from our target profile and the polite "that's nice" response that tells us we need to try something different.
After my arm was healed I was given the option of having the screws removed. This was going to involve another operation. Because my surgeon had used a "space quality" screw I was also told that I could leave this screw in my arm forever with no worries. So I opted to leave them in. If your trigger statement is working you too can keep using it. By listening to the response you are getting from it you can make sure it continues to do it’s job. Getting the desired response of curiosity is what a well crafted trigger statement does day after day. But always be ready to operate and craft a new one if it stops working.
Part 5 of the 8 part series will reveal how to uncover customer objections and opportunities more consistently and reliably.