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Bad Headlines: What ’80s Wrestlers Can Teach You

A headline. From front pages to landing pages — it’s the one thing that just about everybody reads. So, when you’re crafting headlines, it’s your sole duty to use a little personality.

Wrestlers in the ’80s were masters of charisma and pizzazz. These men were naturals when it came to showmanship, and we can use their gimmicks to teach us what makes a bad headline.

Here are a few things you can try to avoid when writing headlines:

Incessant Narcissism
Ravishing Rick Rude is the marketing equivalent of using words like “We” or “Our” in a headline. He never stopped talking about himself (fast-forward to :58), and this is a bad way to start a conversation. When talking to your readers, use words like “You” and “Yours” to demonstrate what’s in it for them.

Being Painfully Obvious
Remember Hacksaw Jim Duggan? To finish off his opponents, he would strike them with a 2×4. Effective? Yes. However, it lacked creativity. While a headline should make it clear what you are talking about, try not to hit them over the head with it.

Way-Homers
OK, so here’s an obscure reference — The Genius. This guy was a little too smart for his own good. And so are way-homers. These are the polar opposite of the 2×4 to the face. They are too clever. Too cute. Way too abstract. And your audience won’t get the joke until they’re in the car on the way home. Avoid these at all costs.

Unnecessary Words
Brutus the Barber Beefcake is best known for cutting his opponents’ hair after knocking them out with his famous Sleeper Hold (fast-forward clip to 4:16). When it comes to headlines, don’t be afraid to cut back a little. If it takes more than a breath to read your headline out loud, it could probably use a trim.

Keyword Clusters
The tag team of Ax and Smash, better known as Demolition, destroyed every opponent in sight. Just like the former champs, nothing can demolish a headline faster than cramming it full of keywords. When marketing online, relevant keywords are important. And, so is the context in which they are being used. So, instead of annihilating your headline with keywords, try making it relevant to your subject matter.

So, what makes a good headline?
Good headlines should be like the Ultimate Warrior. They should come barreling out of the gate, get your attention, and finish strong. The perfect headline is one that’s loved by everyone at the table — account people, creatives, your client — and, most of all, your client’s customers.

After all, good marketing should translate to sales. If you can pair successful sales with good creative that’s on strategy, then everyone wins. Or, as the great Randy Macho Man Savage once said, “Oh, Yeah!!!”

By Matt Craver, Senior Copywriter