Writing headlines is hard. Giving yourself permission to write crappy ones makes it easier. If you don’t believe me, just watch this video.
You’ll peek over my shoulder as I brainstorm a buttload of headlines in real time.
Watch to see what the messy part of copywriting really looks like. Seriously, this copy review shows it all: the testable headlines, the “maybe there’s potential but needs finetuning” headlines, and the crap headlines that are destined for the trash bin.
Today, instead of reviewing copy, let’s brainstorm a buttload of headlines for a homepage.
Hi, I’m Paige. I’m a Conversion Copywriter. Today I want to invite you to join me for a brainstorming session.
For this copywriting exercise, I’ve chosen an ergonomic working chair as the product simply because I have a little personal experience with this type of product, what’s out there in the market. Keep in mind, though, the brand that I selected is an in-the-wild example. So I know very little about the conversion context other than what I can see on the page and my own personal experiences.
Let’s dive in.
This is the original headline on the live page. “Working shouldn’t hurt. Sit pain-free or get a refund.” Let the brainstorming begin.
“Sitting shouldn’t suck” (00:47) speaks to our problem context and is also a nice alliteration. But it’s still a little unclear.
I feel like there’s possibility for a “deserve” headline (00:56), but I’m a little stuck right now. I think we’ll come back to it.
The “Goodbye… Hello…” setup (01:05) helps us capture the transformation, what we’re moving away from and what we’re moving towards.
Now I’m trying a headline that taps into the unique mechanism or unique selling point (01:14). Keep in mind, this headline only works if it’s true.
Next up, let’s try a proof-focused headline (01:25). Testimonials and reviews can be a great source of inspiration for these types of headlines.
Here, I’m circling back to a problem statement using the “you shouldn’t” formula (01:35).
Admittedly, this question (01:43) is a little vague. I do think for it to work it would need visual or video support.
I’m starting out with a negative question (01:52), which helps us get that mental yes, but still, it feels a bit disconnected from the actual problem.
I don’t remember what this formula (02:02) is called, but it works like this: “A starts with B, and B starts with product name.”
Honestly, I don’t have a reason for this formula (02:16), or if it even is a formula, but this is the beauty of creativity when you’re brainstorming.
Put the pep back in your step (02:32) is a popular phrase for feeling better. Right? But it kind of felt a little bit too focused on maybe the feet, which is not in alignment with our product. So let’s try to make it more back-related.
This headline focuses on the primary job to be done, which is sit pain-free (02:51). It also hints at the guarantee, and it rhymes.
Not all brainstormed headlines are winners. Most of them aren’t. And a lot of them come out blah and boring, like this one. (03:02)
I’m circling back to try another headline that’s focused on a unique mechanism or USP. (03:11)
Here, I’m using a positioning headline (03:21) to counter the potential belief that, oh, it’s just a chair. What’s so special about it?
Here, I’m trying to tap into the benefit of the benefit. (03:34) So if you’re now pain-free because you have a new ErgoTune, then you don’t have to go to the chiropractor as much, which means your chiropractor might hate us. Hate is a bit of a strong tone for me, though.
This variation (03:51) could set off alarm bells in our visitors’ minds if they trust their chiropractor’s opinion.
And in this variation: “what happened?” (03:58) it’s still unclear if it’s a good or a bad thing for our visitor.
With this headline, I’m attempting to tap into the dream state (04:09) or even do some future pacing. The logic is if you’re not suffering from back pain, then you have more attention to focus elsewhere, so you could be more productive at work, for example.
The “Imagine…” formula might also work well here. (04:24)
“Finally…” is another common headline formula that can help us connect to motivators or desired outcomes. (04:29) And the phrase “your back is screaming for” helps us take that tone up a notch.
In this variation, I want to try out being a bit more specific to the lower back. (04:50) A common issue with lower back pain is having proper lumbar support. And having recently compared chairs like this, I know that adjustable lumbar support is not something you can find on just any ergonomic chair.
In this headline, we’re focused on a desired outcome or a dream state (05:23), but I’m being more specific to what that actually looks like in everyday life at the end of the workday.
This headline is pretty similar to one we just tried. We’re just using a slightly different headline setup, starting with “Give…”. (05:40) “Body” here feels too general. It’s really the back that’s the focus of this chair.
Here I’m playing around with screaming, asking, and pleading (06:01) because each of them carry different degrees of tone.
Again, I’m playing around with the benefit of the benefit, although I will say this one is a little bit depressing. (06:11)
Here I’m using the headline formula “Product name is __.” (06:21) Only I don’t really like what I came up with, so I would scrap this one pretty quickly.
I kept hearing the jingle “rain, rain, go away, come again another day.” So I tried to see if I can make it work with pain, pain, go away. (06:32) I just couldn’t come up with something to put on the back end of that jingle.
We’ve used this headline before. Only this time, I’m rewriting it as an open-ended question. (06:47)
There’s no formula here. (06:58) I’m just letting the creativity flow. However, now that I think about it, this could be a headline that connects back to shifting a belief. If they think that all work chair are uncomfortable, then this works for that.
Remember to embrace the blah and boring headlines because, during brainstorming, they often lead to better ideas, like this love story example. (07:18) And honestly, now I’m wishing I would have wrote “Love at first sit,” which is a play on the phrase “love at first sight.”
I’m back to playing around with the benefit of the benefit. (07:45) But in this example, I’m not sure it’s a good thing that you never want to leave your chair.
Here (07:59) I’ve focused on moving away from the problem or the issue that they’re experiencing using a goodbye-style headline formula and playing around with the actual language of that word goodbye.
This headline focuses on a specific purchase criteria, which is being comfortable to sit in. (08:25) I’ll note that this headline is more appropriate for a work-from-home audience.
I was looking for a different way to say full-body, which sounded kind of boring, and I came up with neck to bum. (08:38) It’s a nice alliteration, neck to bum back support, and it’s just a more interesting way to say full-body in a way that catches the eye.
Here (08:54) I also sort of veered away from the pain aspect and pulled in the style aspect, which may or may not reflect the conversion context.
Yes, I finally found a way to use my “deserve” headline formula. (09:17)
You know me. I love an alliteration. So swapping in pain-preventing here (09:32) does capture that alliteration and also connects more strongly back to the back pain problem. However, you would want to make sure that this is okay from a legal standpoint.
This headline focuses more on the mechanism or the how. (09:47) Most people know that the root cause of their back pain is tied to poor posture, and this chair actually ensures that you sit with proper posture. So in a sense, I’m hinting at the ease of sitting with pain-free posture, which is something that could be more strongly tied in here.
As you can see from this brainstorming exercise, some of these headlines were complete crap, and they will never make it any further than the brainstorming stage.
Some of the headlines, like the chiropractic example, seem to have some potential but need some more working to massage them into a place where they could be a testable headline or potentially even could be used elsewhere on the website.
And some of the headlines were already pretty solid in the variation that came out during the brainstorming session. So they potentially could be tested almost as is.
In my experience, especially when generating headlines or other crossheads or really important pieces of copy real estate, it’s important to give yourself time and the space to be creative, the space to just get as many ideas out as you possibly can.
Because I find that once you break through and get all the trash ideas out, you start to make connections and come up with some really great, really clever headlines that you may have missed when you’re trying to force yourself to write perfect headlines from the beginning.
So this is your reminder to embrace the brainstorm and to give yourself the time and freedom to be creative without putting boundaries or criteria on what you come up with.
And if you’d like help optimizing the copy on your homepages or other web pages so that you make more purchases, we should chat. You can start a project conversation with me here.