Headlines I Never Click Because They Are Stupid

When you take a copywriting  or marketing course, people teach you how to write headlines that get clicked.

The problem is, once all of us take the course (and who can resist? It’s only $97!) we all know the “formula” and every headline starts to look the same.

When all headlines look the same, they are boring and blah and nobody clicks on them.

This is why I tell everyone to create and innovate because those dang blueprints just get too popular…

Anyhoo….when marketers find out their typical “high traffic” headlines aren’t getting clicked, they up the ante. They start to write even more compelling headlines so we can’t help but click. Of course, most of them play on your fear. Because we all know fear sells.

These new, more clickable headlines are ridiculous. Out and out stupid. So I don’t click on purpose. I ignore tabloid-esque headlines, just to be one less person who feeds the stupidity.

Actual headlines I will not click:

“5 Negative Thought Patterns You Need To Drop Now” Shut up. If we could just drop the negative thought patterns we would. And if I don’t do it now, then what? I’m a loser? This reminds me of this Bob Newhart piece. “Stop it!”

“89 Things You Need to Know to Simplify Your Life.”¬† 89 of anything and the word “simple” in the same sentence is stupid.

“100 Things You Should Be Talking About in 2014.” Are you kidding me? There are only 365 days in a year. I have to talk about 100 things. For how long? Two minutes each? What’s the point? How about I talk about things that matter? I won’t count them so I can leave space in my brain for the ideas.

“Plug All of Your Leaks Or You Will Die.” I’m going to die? Am I on a sinking ship? Huh?¬† Just no.

Notice how these stupid headlines play to “shoulds” and “needs” (Because it’s no good, Honey, if the headline doesn’t make you feel ashamed, or that you are going to die.) and have long lists that make you twitchy thinking, “Hell, I’m missing out on 100 Things!”

The reason for the hyperbole is because no one cares about 7 things, or 21 things. We know that trick. Now we need to be enticed with 100 things we don’t know. We need someone to suggest we could die to get the fear-o-meter really ramped up.

Of course in a year, 100 things will be passe and we’ll be told we have 1001 things we are missing out on. By the time my kid is in college, he’ll have to sweat out lists of 1.1 million things he’s missing/failing or otherwise leading to his eventual demise.

The game is up. The pure quantity of content and ease of creating it has made the old school marketing schtick DOA. There is only so much exaggeration and fear we can tolerate before we get numb (and I argue most of us are numb right now). Making the lists longer, the shame and fear bigger isn’t going to get the attention it used to.

And remember, you get to choose if you react to these lists of projected shame and loser-ness. You know that you don’t need 89 things to simplify your life. The idea is ludicrous on the surface. Just laugh. Don’t click. And give your attention to people doing real work that matters.

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