How to Write Killer Titles That Can Sell a Fur Coat to a Wookiee

This article is a guest post I originally published on Clickfire–a resource for the digitally outspoken. Clickfire is a refuge for bloggers, online marketers, social media powerusers and those who thrive on big content.

Boring titles don’t sell. They won’t sell your book, your product, or your online course. In fact, a boring title won’t even compel a customer to take a mere 60 seconds out of their day to read your email newsletter.

How do I know this? Because (unfortunately) I’ve written plenty of bad titles over the years. This wasn’t even something on my radar when I first started out in business, so it took me a while to figure out that I needed to step up my title-writing game. I know from experience that writing a boring title for your product won’t even entice people to get it when it’s FREE. Now that’s pretty painful.

It doesn’t matter if you create the greatest, most ground-breaking product or live event on the planet—if the title doesn’t speak for itself, chances are that you’re going to hear quite a few crickets when you launch. If you don’t want to end up in this boat, keep reading…

Writing a killer title for your product is as essential as creating the product itself. A great title can practically sell itself—it can boost the value of your product, increase sales and make it irresistible for your customers.

There are two main rules for creating killer titles that sell….

Rule #1: Your title should state the outcome or the benefit that customers will receive

There is so much noise on the Internet right now and your product title needs to cut through it to be noticed. To do this effectively, you have to state the outcome that your customers will receive from buying your product. If you don’t, you might end up on Bruce Handy’s collection of boring book titles: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/08/books/review/bruce-handys-collection-of-boring-books.html

Ask yourself: What is the result that my customer will get from my product/workshop/book/course? What will it ultimately do for them? How is it solving their specific problem?

Here are a few examples of actual book subtitles that I found on Amazon that clearly follow this rule:

  • 200 Delicious Nutrient-Rich Recipes for Fast & Sustained Weight Loss, Reversing Disease, and Lifelong Health
  • Easy and Inexpensive Strategies for Making Big Profits from Your Small Business
  • A Seven-Step Strategy for Reconnecting with Your Partner
  • 77 Instant-Action Ideas to Boost Sales, Maximize Profits and Crush Your Competition

When your title clears states that your product provides a solution to a problem, your customers will be practically shouting, “That’s exactly what I need!!”. With this approach, your chances of hooking ideal customers right off the bat will increase 100 fold just by showing them that can’t afford NOT to buy it.

Rule #2: Your title should be CLEAR, not clever or cutesy

I recently spoke at an event in Nashville that consists of a whole day of seminars. I’m not going to name names, but some of the seminar titles broke ALL the rules of writing effective titles, including:

  • Elephant Love, Ubuntu & Why Everything is Possible
  • The Singularity: Why the Coming Robot Takeover Matters Now!
  • Avoid the Work Zombie Apocalypse

This is why the second rule to writing killer titles (that sell) is to be really clear on what your product/workshop/topic is all about. With each of the titles listed above, I have absolutely no idea what they are going to be talking about and what the outcome would be, so what would compel me to waste my time to go find out?

On the other hand, here are some examples of effective titles from the same event:

  • How to Write and Publish a Book in 90 Days or Less (Then Sell the *#$& Out of It)
  • The 21st Century Pied Piper: How to Gain More Followers on Twitter
  • Building Your Digital Brand Without Demolishing Your Personal Life

Each of these titles clearly states the outcome you will get out of each seminar without being cutesy or clever.

So how can you get started writing your own killer titles? Here are some effective title formulas to you to put into action immediately…

  • __#__ Steps/Ways/Strategies/Tips/Secrets to ____________________
  • How to ______________________ so You Can ___________________
  • __#__ Mistakes to Avoid When _______________________________
  • The Secret to ______________________________________________
  • How to ____________________________ in # Easy/Simple/Fast Steps
  • Top __#__ Mistakes/Tips/Strategies that Will ____________________

Brainstorm the benefits that your customers will get from buying your product and then fill in the blanks above when you’re ready to create your perfect title. Note that when you’re using a number in your title, it’s better to choose an odd number (e.g. “7 Effective Steps to…”) instead of an even number.

Additionally, here are some useful words you can use to plug into your title:

  • Right now
  • New
  • Almost Instantly
  • Boost
  • Proven
  • Immediately
  • Increase
  • Step by step
  • Elevate
  • Formula
  • Dramatically
  • Comprehensive
  • Valuable
  • Discovery
  • Learn
  • Successful
  • Irresistible
  • Extremely
  • Transform
  • Fool-proof
  • Hot
  • Techniques

Writing great titles is important whether you’re writing a book, presenting a workshop, sending out an email to your customers or even writing a blog post.

For example, think about what made you decide to read this particular blog post. Note that I didn’t name the post, “Product Titles Matter” or “Write a Great Product Title” (or even “Lost in the Distant Land of Boring Titles”). None of these titles clearly relate the outcome that you will receive when you read the post. The outcome is that your product WILL SELL when you create a good title. That’s what you really want in the end, right?

Boring, ambiguous, and vague titles don’t sell. To break through the noise and see more cash rolling into your bank account, make sure that your product title acts like a bullet that shoots directly to your customer’s pain points and provides them an immediate solution. Only then will your product will be totally irresistible.

To dive deeper into great title writing, check out this article I recently found: 3 Steps to Increase Blog Visitors, Mailing List Signups, and Product Sales.

Photo credit: Photo by Oddsxends https://www.flickr.com/photos/oddboy/ License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/
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Kevin Duncan - a couple of years ago

Hi, Laurel.

“Elephant Love, Ubuntu & Why Everything is Possible” is definitely an ambiguous title. I’m not sure I would have wanted to attend such a seminar for fear elephants might ACTUALLY be there.

Great headline tips. This is an area in which I’m still improving…even after almost ten years of blogging!

    Laurel Staples - a couple of years ago

    I agree! At the same time, I almost wanted to go just to see (1) what in the world the subject was, and (2) what other suckers went to see the seminar as well. Haha. Glad you enjoyed the article!

Sophia Martin - a couple of years ago

Awesome tips, especially those of Call to action and the templates you outlined. I am sure, it will help me improve leads too!

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