What is a Headline—Get My Secret Recipe For a Perfect One

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What-is-a-Headline-My-Secret-RecipeIn the 3—30—3 Rule, you have just 3 seconds to grab someone’s attention. That’s the job of a perfect headline.

What is a headline?

On a website, the headline is the first text you see on a page. It’s usually big, bold and brief.

In marketing, an effective headline tells a mini success story—in less than 3 seconds. They differ from taglines (slogans) in that they are designed to sell a product or service.

Your website should have different headlines on every page to introduce the content.

The Merriam Webster definition of a headline

What is a headline on LinkedIn?

Your LinkedIn headline appears just below your portrait and name. This little sentence can be packed with reasons to work with you.

What-Is-a-Headline on LinkedIn

Here is my secret recipe for a perfect headline:


Let’s dissect it. 

Note: the order of these 3 things can change and still be effective.

  1. GET: Your product or service
  2. PAIN RELIEF: Solution to a painful problem
  3. RESULT: Who people aspire to be, feel or get done

How many websites have you visited where you were immediately confused about what they offer? Did you read more? Did you buy anything? I bet you $20 you went to the next Google listing.

Headlines are versatile. They can be used on a website, brochure, presentation or mailer. Expand on it in your copy or in an article and use it as the basis for your brand story.

Here’s how to create a perfect headline:

#1:  What they will get GET

Be clear about what your product or service is or does. This is not the time to be fancy or clever. It’s confusing, and confused people don’t buy.

Let’s pick apart this example…

“We are the Leading New York Personal Injury Law Firm”

Well, at least it’s clear what they do. But they made 3 serious mistakes.

Mistake #1:
It’s all about them. Who says they are “the leading” law firm? It’s commonly used business
jargon and sounds self-serving and elitist.

Mistake #2:
This headline is obviously geared for search engines, not people. Big mistake. Google isn’t hiring them, people are.

Even a simple change like this is better:

“Your Personal Injury Law Firm”

But they have to add the second ingredient to make it effective.


Does your headline show how your product is the right medicine to relieve a painful problem?

This is the most important part and where empathy comes in.

Feel the pain your customers feel. If it’s a leaky roof, concern about retirement, or losing income from a job injury, there is real pain there. That’s why they are searching for answers.

When people feel you understand them, they connect to you and are more likely to call you.

Let’s go back to the revised law firm example.

“Your Personal Injury Law Firm”


Mistake #3:
There’s no pain relief

Someone who needs a PI lawyer usually has a veeeery pressing problem, and feels anxious, uncertain and helpless.

I don’t feel this firm understands the anxiety and helplessness an injured person feels from this headline. Do you?

What if they said this instead… And, it takes less than 3 seconds to read it.

“Your personal injury legal team, ready to fight to get your life back.”

If your life is shattered by an injury, don’t you want a team of lawyers fighting for YOU against big insurance? How would it feel to get your life back?


The new headline is all about what the client GETS  in the service provided (A personal injury legal team)and the pain relief (ready to fight, get your life back). In 3 seconds flat. Now they are ready to learn more about you.

Notice there is no mention of “we” in this headline. Look at yours. Does it contain “we” or “us”? If it does, it’s time to change it.


People want to thrive, feel better or get stuff done

“Your personal injury legal team, ready to fight to get your life back.”

The Combined effect of what they get + how it relieves pain creates the result of filling their needs.

That’s what makes this an effective marketing headline.

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Get your free “Guide to Winning New Business—Even now!”

The same rules apply to your LinkedIn headline

LinkedIn is really a mini website for your business and personal brand. This free one-pager is packed with your story, work samples, articles, testimonials and so much more.

This little introduction is the first thing people see after your photo and background image. Now’s your chance to show ‘em how you make them more successful!

Here’s an example of a perfect LinkedIn headline from Carolyn Herfurth…

I Help Women Innovate New Revenue Streams To Keep Their Service Businesses Growing

Doesn’t it create more desire than “Sales consultant at ABC Inc? Yes, because it follows the secret recipe for a perfect headline.


I Help Women Innovate (Get) New Revenue Streams (Pain Relief) To Keep Their Service Businesses Growing (Result)

Remember, a simple, clear headline beats a clever one every time.

Does yours tell a mini success story in less than 3 seconds? No? Call the Boss Lady and we’ll rewrite it for you!

Here’s my Headline Recipe Template. Try it on your business!

My product__________________________________________

Relives this pain ______________________________________

Result customers get __________________________________


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