If you want people to remember something, tell them a story.

The story of Noah's Ark

A few months back I wrote about how telling stories can influence people’s feelings.

In fact, writers of all stripes have been using stories to tap into people’s emotions for centuries.

Well… it turns out that as well as evoking strong emotions, stories are also a powerful tool to help us remember things.

A few days ago I was listening to the Tim Ferriss Show podcast. His guest was Stephen Dubner, one of the authors of Freakonomics.

In response to a question about the power of stories, Stephen came up with some interesting numbers.

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And the secret to writing an open-ended headline is…

A closed door is like a closed-ended headline.

If you’re not totally into writing great headlines, you should be.

When you’re writing online, headlines are everywhere.

Actually, anything you write that’s 15 words or less should be treated like a headline.

Headlines for blog posts, articles, reviews, buyers’ guides and even homepages.

For email subject lines. Same for e-newsletters. Headings within those emails and e-newsletters.

Tweets. Titles for Facebook updates. Bios for Instagram.

Whenever you’re short-form writing online, you’ll do well to think “headline”.

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Tap into the power of a shared, common experience.

Hiking is often a shared experience

If, like me, you write a blog, you’ve probably promised yourself you’ll post at least once a week.

Or maybe twice a week. Daily even.

There are plenty of good reasons for posting to your blog, whether you run a business or work as a freelancer.

Writing a blog makes sure your voice is heard. Writing posts regularly helps get your message out there, and keeps your name on people’s lips. (Google likes to see you posting regularly too.)

Is it always easy to come up with new post ideas? No, it isn’t.

In my case, sometimes l’ll have a lineup of ideas for posts, all clamoring for attention. But other times the well runs a little dry, and I have to cast around for inspiration.

I’m guessing it’s not so very different for you.

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Use inspirational content to drive engagement and sales.

Mountain bike inspiration

With some product and service categories, we automatically expect marketers to inspire us.

For example, if we are being sold a weight-loss program, we expect to hear inspirational stories about those who have come before us.

We expect to see before and after photos, and to hear about how people’s lives are improved as they shed those extra pounds.

Weight-loss and wellness coaches help us succeed by inspiring us with positive messages and stories.

It’s what we expect.

But we can also create inspirational content for slightly less obvious categories.

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Listening to your readers and customers is good. Being smug about it isn’t.

arrogant man about to fall

Last week I wrote about how I’m putting together a new course on writing headlines for web content, social media and email marketing.

At the end of the post I asked readers to email me with their suggestions on what should be included in the course, and which questions about writing headlines they would like to see answered.

When I extended the invitation, I was thinking maybe I’d pick up on a few points and questions I might have missed. Truth be told, my slide deck was pretty much done and I was almost ready to start recording.

I just wanted to be sure I hadn’t missed anything big or obvious.

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Please help me with my new course on writing headlines.

Young boy in bow tie writing.


Way back in July I was trying to figure out the topic for my next short course.

So far I’ve published two short-form courses this year – on content optimization and on selling with stories.

I wasn’t sure what to tackle next.

So I asked everyone who reads my newsletter to take part in a short survey.

I made two suggestions for my next course:

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