We spend all of our lives trying to capture the attention of a target audience. Within seconds of entering the world, we emit one of the most emotive sounds known to our species – the cry of a human baby. It immediately stops us in our tracks and demands our instant attention. Because that’s what it’s designed to do: making us aware of something important to us, compelling us to act.
The rest of our life is spent in a similar vein – instinctively sending out signals to people and communities we would like to connect with; and naturally engaging with those individuals and groups we feel an empathy towards. The “pull” of a message that connects is, literally, irresistible.
The AIDA model of recruitment advertising understands the critical nature of capturing attention. To be blunt, if you don’t grab the attention of your target audience with the ‘right’ proposition, your ad will fall at the first hurdle.
So how can you create a headline that encapsulates the key proposition that you have to sell?
It may sound the seemingly obvious, but people read what interests them. So what motivates your audience? And, critically, what do you have to “sell” to them? What’s the USP of the role you are offering .. is it an amazing opportunity to continually develop in your organisation? More responsibility? A voice in the business? A work/life balance? A desire to join a company that’s ethical and responsible? The chance to be part of an incredible project? The opportunity to become a valued member of an outstanding team?
This initial phase ‘A’ Phase of the AIDA process – capturing Attenton’ – is actually a very analytical thought process. Way before you ask your creative juices to flow, you need to identify the prime motivation of your audience and what you have to offer them. Then – and only then – do you truly understand the purpose of what you’re about to write. And what you’re about to write is really rather magical. A Headline. A Headline that will sell your key employment proposition to your identified audience, succinctly, powerfully – and maybe even beautifully.
You can write a headline in an infinite number of ways. However, certain ‘types’ of headline have proven themselves to work repeatedly over the years. Over time, you’ll develop your own ”formula”, finding out what works best for your writing style – but the following five headline formats are some of the easiest and most powerful to write. So when you’re looking to construct a headline, try one of these first. At the very least, they will give you a creative jumping off point to write a headline that works.
Sell the big employment proposition.
You should always explore transforming the main selling proposition of the role into a headline. It stands the best chance of engaging with the right audience and getting them to respond. If you struggle with this kind of headline, it may be that you need to think a bit more about the role and its particular employment proposition.
“Influence. Inspire. In Here.”
“Let’s shape the world, together.”
“Experience. The Difference.”
Simply Say It.
The direct headline is a simple, straight-to-thepoint format that makes a clear, no-nonsense but engagingly targeted employment promise. It works particularly well if your brand name is wellknown or the job title does what it says on the tin.
“The Software Role Designed For You.”
“Welcome to the team you have been looking for.”
“You & Us.”
There couldn’t be a better time to join.
People love to work in an organisation with purpose – even more so when that enterprise is successful, or focused on a journey to success. You can use this as a platform to attract the candidates you need, matching ‘where you are’ as an organisation with what they want as an employee
“Be more than a number with the market No. 1.”
“Start at the top and work your way up.”
“Join us on the journey.”
Pose a provocative question.
Asking a question directly involves your audience. However, your question cannot be random or clever. It must relate directly and clearly to the major benefit of the role. It must also provoke the potential candidate to answer “yes” or at least “I’m not sure, but I want to know more.”
“Got what it takes to go higher, further, faster?”
“Ready to move to the next level? Read on.”
“World-class. Market-leading. Guess Who?”
Command your audience.
Being bold doesn’t mean being arrogant – and this headline type allows you to be direct, confident, delivering a clear proposition and taking a commanding posture, simultaneously.
“Trust us with your ambition and we’ll give you our world.”
“See the possibilities. Realise your potential.”
“It’s your time. Seize the day.”
There are literally hundreds of different ways to write a headline. Whichever format you choose, take the time to brainstorm by writing down as many headlines as you can think of. You never know exactly what you want to say before you say it, so giving yourself the optimum number of choices is the best way to arrive at the most powerful headline for your audience.