We The People Can End Clickbait


Together, creative’s and SMB’s can drive engaging marketing strategies, while promoting sugar-free honesty and thorough, accurate answers. Continue reading to learn how designers and clients can accomplish this in 3 easy steps.

As a small business owner, you know standing out at the internet dinner table is a challenge. Likely your business has competitors and you’re not only competing with regional competition, but global peers bringing their own strategies to the table.

The debate whether content is still king appears at the close of each year. Content remains powerful and is an economical, unique way to engage new prospects by providing them value before they spend money. But it’s obvious there’s too much junk food, clickbait headlines and sponsored content being embedded in your awareness everyday.

The human brain can only handle a threshold of information before it begins underperforming, creating sloppy mistakes, or crashes. With the assumption that you’re a business owner who has a operation to manage, a household, a social life while multi-tasking email with restroom breaks – you like your customers already dwell in a saturated mental state.

In the fight to grab a sliver of attention today, there’s never been a more important time to have a strategy that not only is honest, but is backed with a factual narrative. As we’ve seen from the 2016 US presidential election, there’s now proof that online linkbait tactics can drive some heavy, history changing results. The winner and losers of the election covered the sugary internet like bad bacteria devouring a donut shop. Both major party candidates were heroes in pieces of content on Website A, and on Website B that same candidate was a demon-possessed entity who frequented Eyes Wide Shut themed parties.

So, where is the middle ground?

Yes, the internet is overstuffed with lunacy and pure genuine stupidity. The fact that anyone with a social media page can share whatever information they please without any validating filter, creates a swamp of confusion. But these hindrances can be an opportunity for you and your marketing efforts. Right now, many people simply just want honesty. People want factual information, not assumptions like election polls. And half the country wants thorough answers, not vague, believe me tag-lines that fit on a bumper sticker. Together, clients and creatives can pull the opposite ends of the information spectrum into a compact center loaded with verified information, while accurately covering both sides of a story.

If you want to start a transparent, honest and evolving marketing campaign for your SMB, you want to focus on 3 components.

  1. Don’t cherry pick information. Find factual information that tells your customer the whole story you’re solving. Own that your solution is an evolving panacea that isn’t perfect, but has benefits that outweigh any negatives.
  2. From the research, craft a truthful story that will resonate with your customer’s intelligence, and give a glimpse of what you’re working on to continue to provide them value.
  3. From the story, complete your narrative by writing an authentic headline that will stand out on your marketing platforms.

Let’s dive deeper into these 3 areas.

1. Don’t Cherry Pick Information

When hunting for research to support that your business has value, you want to verify the information you find is posted from multiple credible sources and tells both sides of the story. Peer reviewed journals, unsponsored academic papers and research conducted by you is where you can start digging for info.

2. From the research, craft a truthful story that will resonate with your customer’s intelligence, and give a glimpse of what you’re working on to continue to provide them value.

If you find information that says, 70% of customers found value in YOUR SOLUTION, but the truth is the 70% came from a survey of 100 individuals in one town, doesn’t tell the truth about YOUR SOLUTION, it only skews it. Accept the research, and be honest in your message that in a single town, 70 customers out of the 100 interviewed supported YOUR SOLUTION.

From the research, you can focus on framing the story in an honest way, and position your business as being currently valuable to some customer’s problems and provide insights on how you’re continuing to work to satisfy all customers.

For example, if 70 customers out of a 100 in one town found value in YOUR SOLUTION, because it helped them save $100 a month on increasing transportation costs, you could frame the narrative to focus on how your business helped 70 people save money, but also how 30 of the customers are not having their needs met, so YOUR SOLUTION 2.0 is in the works to meet their needs in the near future.

3. From the story, complete your narrative by writing an authentic headline that will stand out on your marketing platforms.

Each platform will have it’s limitations, hence the importance of keeping the headline short is key. When writing a headline, you want to consider if your headline will be engaging to your client and be readable on social media, in-print and in email campaigns.

  • On LinkedIn & Pulse, will the headline be fully read in your post & summary?
  • On Slideshare, will this headline read strong reformatted as a cover slide?
  • On your website, will the headline be engaging to read as a blog post title?
  • In the subject line of an email, will it read well on monitors?
  • In a subject line on a phone, you have 30 characters, does it read clearly or get cut off?
  • In print, would the headline stand out if it was on a cluttered wall of other content?
  • On Twitter your tweets are limited to 140 characters, even less if you want to include hashtags and a url link. Will the headline work as a tweet?

Once you have clarity on how your headline will be seen online and a completed story, then you can decided on what angle will speak to your reader. 

This part is a little tricky, you have to get inside your reader’s head and think, what would entice them to authentically want to read more. But again, you already have a story written and know where you are going to share this information online. So you can start from this point and write a headline.

When thinking there's 3 directions to consider – Self-Interest, News and Curiosity. Once you have a direction, you can use one of the 8 headline templates below. For each suggestion, I used an IRA example for context to show how you can frame your headline.

  • Address the Reader: Why Your IRA Was Stagnant This Year.
  • How To: How To Invest Conservatively and Double your IRA in 2 Years.
  • Reasons Why: The Reason Why Your IRA Isn’t Growing.
  • Ask a Question or 2?: What? Your IRA Isn’t Doubling This Year?
  • New Something: The New Way to Invest Your IRA, Eliminating All Trading Fees.
  • Use a Number, or a Couple: 3 Important Lessons I Learned from 10 Years of Managing My Own IRA.
  • Immediate Results: Learn How to Invest Smart, and Have a New IRA Strategy by the End of the Weekend.
  • Honest Testimonial with Tangible Results: I Learned How to Strategically Invest my Disposable Income and Increased my IRA by $14,316 During My Pregnancy.

Bonus Tip >>> Write Your Headline Using Power Words that Educate Your Customer

The (Power Word) Guide To: The Tested & Proven Guide To Continually Grow Your IRA by 22%.

Power words are verbs that are used to hook attention. I suggest using Power Words that will generate interest in your topic, not suggesting cheapness, terror or pleasure. For example, the words Free, Easy, Rare, Urgent, Shocking, Crucial, Weird, Warning, Danger and Discount are what you see on link-baiting sites. And words like Electrifying, Exciting, Mouth-Watering, Revolutionary, and Gigantic are words for infomercials and crummy radio ads.

I suggest using words that educate your reader and entice them to take a few minutes and to learn more about your topic. Words such as: Discover, Learn, Reduce, Gain, Obtain, Facts, Important, Research, Proven, Sourced, Strategy, Approved, Tested, Save, Information, Results, Create, Smart, Intelligent, Finish, Teach, Educate

As you see in the example above, you can also combine these words to increase their boldness: Sourced Research, Tested & Approved, Discover the Strategy, Save Important Information, Discover Facts, Proven Results to Create a Strategy, Intelligent Strategies.

Chris Brock