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The Truth About The 80/20 Rule . . . And How To Get Around It

According to some of the most revered copywriters out there today, when you’re composing a blog post or a tweet, you should spend at least half the time it takes to actually write the message in its entirety on creating the perfect headline. So if your blog post takes, say, 30 minutes, you ought to be spending 15 just on the headline alone. Sounds crazy I know, but that’s how crucial headlines are. I mean, what good is all that hard work if no one bothers to actually read what you’ve written?

That one’s generally called the ’50/50 Rule,’ but there’s another all-important rule about blogging/tweeting that you’ve got to keep in mind as well: the ‘80/20 Rule.’ This one states that on average, 8 out of 10 people will read a headline, but only 2 out of 10 will take things a step further and actually read the piece itself. So headlines matter A LOT. Make them count. Here are some tips, broken down into 2 main components, to do just that:

  • (1) Heed the ‘4 L’s’ as they’re called at all times: Useful, Urgent, Unique, and Ultra-Specific. Appealing to your readers by keeping these 4 components firmly in mind will certainly help.
  • (2) Before you compose any headline, ask yourself the following 6 questions:

(a) Does your headline offer up some kind of reward for the reader? Think: 3 Sure-Fire Ways To Attract Readers.

(b) What kind of specifics could you add to make your headline more intriguing?

(c)  Does your headline illicit a powerful, actionable emotion the reader already has about the subject at hand?

(d) Does your headline present a proposition that will instantly get your prospect nodding his or her head? Referring back to (a), who doesn’t want to attract more readers to their website or blog?

(e)  Could your headline benefit from the inclusion of a proposed transaction? This one obviously won’t apply all the time but it’s useful to keep this one in mind in case the chance naturally presents itself, depending on your topic.

(f)  Could you add an element of intrigue to drive the prospect into your opening copy? This is exactly the same obstacle that journalists deal with . . . most people only bother reading the first paragraph or two of a news article before moving on. That’s why employing the inverted pyramid (hit them with all the specifics up front) is so crucial to their work. But how do you get them to even read that far?

Generating an online ‘following’ all comes down to being a better salesman/woman. And while most people would cringe at the notion of ‘selling’ oneself, that’s pretty much the reality that social media platform has dropped in each of our laps by necessity of design and function. But following these suggestions may at least give you a work-able framework by which to tackle the situation, and fashion that 80/20 into a 50/50 or even better . . .


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