How Your Next Headline Can Engage Your Target Audience With Deadly Precision


The overwhelming importance of headlines needs no re-introduction, and as writers or copywriters, you'd no doubt have already mastered a rolodex of techniques on headline-crafting that drives positive reader response. Different situations call for different measures though, and if you experience struggles in aligning your headlines with what your readers desire to see, you can add the following tool to your arsenal.

The Brain-Scan Grid
When I was introduced to this nifty, audience-centric method at a Think On Your Feet® course, immediately I saw immense value in using it to write headlines that would cut right into the hearts of readers. The Brain-Scan Grid is extremely simple to use, and is made up of a table that basically looks like this:

Background Information
1.
2.
3.
Hopes
1.
2.
3.
Fears
1.
2.
3.
 
The whole idea of this grid is to think from the perspective of your target audience.

In each row, take just a few minutes to list down three points (not more) on what you know about your audience (Background Knowledge), what you believe they need or want out of whatever you are offering (Hopes), as well as their potential worries or resistance towards your propositions (Fears). Detailed research isn't necessary; go with what you perceive or assume about them.

Once you have come up with your list, review your points and pick what you think is the strongest, most compelling one from each row. These final three points then form the flesh of your headline with this general structure—acknowledge your audience, play up their hope and address their fear. That's it!

Example
Let's look at an example. Say you want to write a copy to promote a music school's beginner piano courses to housewives or homemakers in general. How would your headline spur your target audience to read on? Using a Brain-Scan Grid, my list of points might look like this:

Promoting Beginner Piano Courses to Housewives/Homemakers
Background Information
1. Domestic
2. Non / low-income earners
3. Have time to spare
Hopes
1. Learn something new
2. Keep oneself occupied
3. Have fun
Fears
1. Too difficult to pick up piano skills
2. No use for piano skills
3. Courses are too expensive

From the above, I would identify my strongest points as:

- Have time to spare (Background Knowledge)
- Have fun (Hope)
- Too difficult to pick up piano skills (Fear)

With these as my focus, I can now begin to pen my headline. Off the top of my head, some possible ones include:

Learn Piano the Fun and Easy Way in Your Spare Time!
Got Time? Enjoy Our Piano Courses For Beginners!
Time Flies When You're Having Fun at Our Basic Piano Courses!

Notice how the headlines can either directly bring out the points, or be created to suggest them more subtly. It's all up to you. And if you need more options, you can even put together multiple combinations from the points in the Brian-Scan Grid to give you a good dose of ideas to work with.

Finally, you might realise that this tool goes beyond just helping you to come up with a headline. In fact, it even provides the ammunition to write the body of your entire copy. Now how handy is that?

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