I am definitely a fan of anyone who aims to teach me something new each and everyday. One of my favorite ‘tutors’—and probably one of yours—is Seth Godin. His blog posts teach me something each day and they often do it with a humorous edge that cleverly points out the obvious. I think many of us spend so much time looking to find the answer in some calculated, statistical way (because ‘it can’t possibly be that simple’) that we often miss the point. So many solutions would reveal themselves—brilliant, flashing light bulb moments—if we could just sit still and allow ourselves to ignore the clutter. The jargon. The white noise.
Today, Seth Godin’s post is called Dewey Defeats Truman. I am posting it here as this was one of my many daily light bulb moments. Each headline leads the way for the reader to move forward to read more or pass by and find that next headline that will lure them in. Such a simple concept, but one that is missed by many.
Dewey defeats Truman
Headlines matter now more than they ever did.
Headlines provoke and introduce. They cajole and they position.
No headline, no communication.
This spreadsheet you just sent me… what does it say? What does it mean? It has no headline. Trashed.
That person you met at a conference: What’s his headline? Are you actually going to spend ten minutes with him before you determine whether or not he’s interesting enough to talk with? Of course not. No headline, no communication.
You can have sub-headlines
The great direct mail copywriter Joe Sugarman taught me this. Every ad had a headline, and so did every paragraph. If the paragraph didn’t warrant a headline, it didn’t go in the ad.
This might be a shame
I’m not saying that headline-world is the place we want to or should live in. I’m merely saying that we do live there, and if you want to communicate (your resume, your trustworthiness, your graciousness) you need to be sure your headline is compelling, accurate and a viable foundation to the message you’re ultimately trying to send. (That last one is very important. Just because it gets you newsstand sales doesn’t mean it’s a headline you want to live with.)
Headlines don’t always look like headlines, of course. That outfit you wore to work today is quite a headline, bub. Headlines may not look like they belong in a newspaper, but they always work that way. Now or never.