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Newt Barrett

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“Headless Body in Topless Bar”: 5 Content Marketing Lessons from All-Time Best Headline

This New York Post headline is almost 30 years old. But,  It would be just as effective today as it was in 1983.  In fact, it’s a classic from which we can learn 5 important lessons.  

When you apply these lessons to every headline you write, you will dramatically improve the readership of  your online articles and blog posts.

  1. Be brief. In just 5 words, this headline  grabs our complete attention. There isn’t a single wasted word.
  2. Lure your readers into the story.  This headline  absolutely demands that we read the rest of the article. How can anyone not want to know what the heck  happened?
  3. Don’t tell too much of the story.  If we know absolutely everything worth knowing, after we have finished reading the headline, then there’s no point in continuing on to the full article.
  4. Use precisely descriptive words.  Headless. Body. Topless. Bar.  Each word contributes to the meaning of the headline. There is absolutely no ambiguity.
  5. Be memorable.  I doubt that anybody who ever saw this headline will have forgotten it. In fact, I would guess that those who saw the actual cover of the New York Post will remember the entire story when somebody mentions just the headline.

Creating a great headline is hard work, but well worth the effort. Without an effective headline, you won’t get the readership you need to generate content marketing results.

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Newt is a leading thinker on the new discipline of content marketing. He urges marketers to think like publishers by delivering essential, relevant, and timely information that makes customers smarter and wiser–and much more likely to become buyers. Newt is a successful publishing executive with more than 25 years of experience as both a manager and business owner. He has launched profitable publications in the high tech arena for both CMP and Ziff-Davis. He was an early player on the web in 1996 as Publishing Director of an early Yahoo competitor, NetGuideLive. As an entrepreneur, he launched Southwest Florida Business and BusinessNewsNow.com in the late nineties, later selling them to Gulfshore Media. His publication still thrives under its new name, Gulfshore Business. In addition to his sales and marketing skills, Newt is a published writer for Business Currents and Gulfshore Business magazines. He writes on topics as diverse as healthcare, education, public policy, growth, business best practices, and technology. He knows how to build great brands that serve client marketing needs. He is comfortable driving dramatic market-driven changes. Newt is recognized as a leader with the ability to move teams in new, unexplored directions. He is effective in high level sales and marketing conversations with senior executives in client organizations of all sizes. He delivers successful consulting engagements to improve products, people, and processes.