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10 Great Ideas for Writing Powerful B2B Headlines

by | Nov 9, 2010 | B2B Copywriting, Direct Marketing, Headlines & subheads, Lead Generation, Advertisements, Direct Mail | 3 comments

The most effective way to write a strong B2B headline is to brainstorm a list based on proven formulas. Then you pick out the ones that look the most promising and refine them until one really stands out.

Previously, we’ve talked about why you should use a benefit headline, rather than a teaser headline (click here to review that article). And how to refine a headline using the “4 U’s” formula. So today, I thought I’d give you a list of 10 proven headline formulas you can try the next time you need a headline, title or subject line that really grabs your prospects’ attention. And I’ve included examples of each.

1. Start with the words “How to”.

Business readers are always seeking ways to solve problems, increase profitability or gain a competitive advantage. They want solid, “how-to” information. So headlines that start with “How to” naturally attract attention.

Following “How to” you simply promise your target audience a solution to their problem, or an attractive benefit they can gain: “How to find and repair fuel leaks 30% faster.” “How to slash avionics integration time by connecting your databus to an Ethernet LAN.”

“Whenever I’m stuck for a headline,” writes Bob Bly, author of The Lead Generation Handbook, “I type ‘How to’ on the page, and what follows those words is always a decent, hard-working headline: good enough to use until something better comes along.”

2. List the reasons why.

“Reasons Why” headlines grab attention because they promise the reader multiple benefits:
“Three good reasons to contact LTI about your shearography NDT needs.”

3. Use a number.

Numbers, too, draw attention in headlines. Numbers typically signal bite-size chunks information. See the title of this article, for example, or the reasons-why headline shown above. They may also offer easy-to-follow instructions: “5 Steps to Safer, More Cost-Effective Engine Testing.”

Quick, easily digested information is exactly what time-starved business decision-makers are looking for.

4. Use a customer testimonial.

Testimonials not only provide instant credibility, they also attract attention in headlines, for two reasons.

First, studies have shown readers eyes are drawn to quotation marks. Headlines with quotation marks are read more often than those without.

Second, business readers are interested in knowing how others have gained benefits from a product or service. A testimonial in quotation marks in your headline signals a “success story” is about to be revealed: “After over half a million hours of air using AVBLEND, we’ve had no premature camshaft failures.”

5. Use the word “Discover.”

“Discover” is a powerful headline word because it promises to reveal new or hidden information that may be valuable to the prospect: “Discover a powerful and affordable desktop surfacing solution that works entirely within AutoCAD.”

6. Promise to reveal a “Secret.”

“Secret” is another powerful headline word. Like everyone else, business readers like to be let in on secrets – especially ones that can give them a competitive advantage.

The word “secret” also pairs naturally with “discover”: “Discover the secret profit centre hidden in your business…”

7. Offer free information.

Free information offers are one of the best ways to generate leads. They get the attention of business readers.

When you have a white paper or other free information piece to offer as a contact incentive, make that offer the focus of your promotion and headline: “FREE White Paper: How to Reduce Your Procurement Costs by 22% With a Web-Based Procurement System.” In other words, sell the offer, not your product or service.

8. Make an invitation.

Invitation headlines work well, because they harness the power of exclusivity. Business people like to be invited to join an exclusive group: “You’re invited to spend the evening with the most influential decision makers in the software industry today.”

9. Mention an award, rave review, or endorsement.

Business buyers want the best. They want something proven, something that offers a high probability of strong ROI. Awards and endorsements give them the proof they need to justify their purchase and put their minds at ease.

So mentioning an award, a rave review or an expert recommendation in your headline tells prospects they should have a look at what you have to offer: “Named by Aerospace Testing International as one of the Top Ten Innovations of 2009.”

10. Ask a question that reminds the reader of a problem.

Question headlines cause readers to stop and think. If the question is relevant to them and thought-provoking, they will be drawn into your promotion. “Are labor-intensive simulation updates causing slips to your test schedule?”

I have several, much longer lists of these formulas I use, but not enough space to share them all with you here. If you’d like help crafting your next powerful, prospect-grabbing headline – and the promotion to go under it – contact me at (+39) 011 569 4951. Or email me at You can also fill in the contact form on my

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