The “Four U’s” of great headlines

Copywriter extraordinaire Michael Masterson says the best headlines embody four U’s. Let's dive into those to see what we can learn.

Copywriter extraordinaire Michael Masterson (real name: Mark Ford) says the best headlines embody four U’s: 

  • Unique
  • Ultra-specific
  • Urgent
  • Useful

In this post, we’re going to dive into those four Us to see what we can learn.

U #1: Your headline should be unique.

If you’re saying the same thing as everyone else in your space, readers will tune you out. 

That’s why your headlines need to be unique. If your reader feels they’ve “seen it all before,” they just won’t pay attention to your headline. 

But what does “uniqueness” look like? 

It comes from not just what you’re saying but the way you’re saying it.

Take a look at this headline:

This Organic “Dream Cream” Eliminates Visible Signs Of Aging So Gently and Naturally That Plastic Surgeons Want It Banned—For Putting Them Out of a Job!

We’re not saying the same old “eliminate visible signs of aging” stuff here, that’s for sure. 

U #2. Your headline should be ultra-specific.

You want to use your headline to “include” your ideal customer—and exclude everyone else.

Because the more dialed-in your headline is, the better it will typically perform for your target audience.

I’m saying “typically” perform there because, yes—you can be ultra-specific and still write a crappy headline. Maybe you’ve targeted the wrong audience, or you’re not solving a problem your reader has.

For example, here’s an ultra-specific headline that is still pretty blah:

4 Digital Marketing Tactics Busy Chiropractors Need to Know Now

It’s bland and boring—not to mention more of the same stuff you see everywhere.

Here’s a better variation:

4 “Set It and Forget It” Marketing Machines Used By The Most Successful Chiropractors—And How You Can Put Them To Work For You

U #3. Your headline should feel urgent.

Without a compelling reason to act right now, most readers won’t act at all. But if you can develop a sense of urgency, you’ll create the impression that your reader can solve their problem faster.

Take a look at this example:

Put These 6 Instant Confidence-Boosters To Work For You Today… And Be A “New You” Tonight

Can you see how this headline creates urgency?

U #4: your headline should be useful.

Promise a benefit in your headline—readers need to know what’s in it for them.

Take a look at what we’ve seen so far.

Here’s the skin cream headline again:

This Organic “Dream Cream” Eliminates Visible Signs Of Aging So Gently and Naturally That Plastic Surgeons Want It Banned (Because It’s Putting Them Out of a Job!

What benefits are we promising? Younger-looking skin. Beauty. A gentle, natural alternative to plastic surgery.

Summing up

Can you write a headline without considering Masterson’s four U’s? Sure you can.

Should you?

That depends on whether you feel like writing great headlines or having your copy ignored.

Totally up to you.

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