• Matthew Lerner

A simple formula for more engaging headlines

If I had to explain Finding Language/Market Fit in one sentence it would be: “Figure out the words in your customer's head and use them in your marketing.


And I’d crystallise it with the “now you can” test.


The “now you can” test for headlines

If your headline completes the sentence “Our product is…” You’re not using customers' words, and your headline will not resonate.


On the other hand, your headline might resonate with your audience if it completes the sentence “Now you can ______.”


A good marketer can complete that “now you can…” with exactly the right words. (Especially the verbs, they’re critical!)


“Now you can” is a simple way to call out the customer’s goal, but often we’re not thinking about goals, instead we fixate on our struggles and challenges. That’s why I like to test messaging around the struggle.


About 1% of startups use this approach, but it's incredibly effective

In some product categories, customers seldom consider solutions, they just live with the pain (I guess it’s learned helplessness). I’ve noticed this in self-improvement, FinTech, and many types of B2B SAAS. If most of your customers are thinking about the struggle rather than the desired outcome, then test a headline that focuses on the struggle.


The world’s greatest copy coach, Joanna Wiebe @ CopyHackers, says to always phrase “struggle” headlines in the first person, because it puts you on the same team as the reader. For example, you’ll notice that “I’m not ready for an audit” sounds empathetic, whereas “Are you ready for an audit?” sounds confrontational.


A simple next step

Make a list of first-person customer language around the struggle, and try it out in your ads or on a landing page. Use the exact words that are in your customer’s head, and try to capture their emotion. Then highlight your desired outcome (“now you can”) in the sub-headline, here’s an example:

  • Headline: "I’m not ready for an audit.”

  • Subhead: (Now you can….) Pull all of your sensitive documents in a secure data room in 5 minutes.

How to read your prospects' minds

Drafting headlines is the easy part. Success really depends on knowing the exact language in your customers’ heads (especially the verbs)! We recommend using “Jobs To Be Done” interviews.


Want our help reading your customers’ minds?

Join us next week for our Jobs To Be Done for Marketing workshop, where you’ll get:

  1. Interview training

  2. Practice interviews with feedback

  3. Step-by-step instructions for how to apply the insights from your interviews across the marketing funnel (not just landing pages)


This two-part workshop Feb 23 & 25 costs £400 for two sessions, and we have 7 spaces left.

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