If you’ve studied copywriting, you know the purpose of the headline is to get people to click and start reading. And your opening copy needs to continue that momentum all the way to the offer or conclusion.
One way to do that is to make a bold, seemingly unreasonable assertion in your title or headline. A proclamation so jarring that the right person can’t help but keep reading, listening, or watching to see where you’re going with it.
As far as I can tell, copywriter John Forde (whose site tagline is, not coincidently, “Learn to sell or else …”) was the first to define the Proclamation Lead:
A well-constructed Proclamation Lead begins with an emotionally-compelling statement, usually in the form of the headline. And then, in the copy that follows, the reader is given information that demonstrates the validity of the implicit promise made.
This type of lead works for both sales copy and persuasive content. Let me give you a couple of examples.
Forde illustrates the Proclamation Lead with a direct mail report that is ultimately selling an alternative health newsletter. Written by Jim Rutz, the piece immediately startles and tempts the prospect with a bold statement:
Read This Or Die
Today you have a 95% chance of eventually dying from a disease or condition from which there is already a known cure somewhere on the planet. The editor of Alternatives would like to free you from that destiny.
The copy continues not by jumping to the offer, but instead by backing up the proclamation. In the process, the piece systematically removes the objections raised in the reader’s mind about the scientific validity of the bold assertions.
If you feel that example is a little too “direct marketing” for your audience, consider this from respected best-selling author Austin Kleon:
Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative
It’s the exact same technique for a completely different target market. The intent is to startle people interested in becoming more creative, while concurrently tempting prospects to further explore what Kleon means by “steal.”
The first example is copy designed to make a sale. The second example is content (a book) that is the product itself. But the reason why both “sell” is the same.
The key to these bold headlines and leads is the immediate emotional response provoked by the assertion. More importantly, that emotional trigger leads to immediate motivation to investigate further — and that’s what every copywriter aims to achieve right from the beginning.
That’s because implicit in the proclamation is a promise. In the Rutz and Kleon examples, you’re promised that you’ll learn about hidden cures to common diseases and the way creativity really works, respectively.
How do you come up with these types of bold beginnings? John Forde says they’re found via research, not conjured up out of the ether — and I agree.
For example, people often assume creativity comes from introspection, perhaps during long sessions of gazing out the window.
But if you research how artists throughout history actually work, creativity is much more about starting with something already out in the world — often the work of someone else — and making it into something new.
Austin Kleon discovered that truth, and then boiled it down to its shocking essence. After all, it was Picasso who famously said, “Good artists copy; great artists steal.”
That said, the proclamation approach is not always the right one for every situation. For example, I could have titled this article:
Read This Unless You Want to Starve
But that would have been lame, so I didn’t. There are plenty of other headline and lead approaches that also work well, so that headline wouldn’t be accurate or appropriate.
If you find a counterintuitive truth that’s relevant to your persuasive aim, however, you might just see if you can turn it into an almost unreasonably bold assertion that works wonders. But remember, don’t steal specific copy approaches (in the artistic sense) unless you’re sure you can perfectly tailor them for your audience or prospect.
According to Ahrefs, at the time of writing, it had over 25,700 backlinks, coming from 3,860 linking root domains.
Can you imagine getting this many links from a series of blog posts, no matter how “epic”?
This keyword tool takes a simple concept, but it executes it well. You enter a keyword into the text box, and the tool will generate a list of keyword suggestions based on autocomplete suggestions.
Basically, it goes to sources such as Google, enters your keyword, and then looks at the suggestions that pop up.
If you hire a typical developer, this kind of a tool would take about 2-3 weeks to create and cost around $ 5,000 (my estimate).
Based on that cost, the creator has been able to get links for 19.4 cents a piece. Or, in terms of linking root domains (LRDs), it’s $ 1.75 per linking root domain.
And these aren’t low quality links. On top of that, I’m sure he’s been able to sell a good number of premium memberships (a few extra features), while also drumming up some advanced keyword research projects for other businesses.
One more example (a personal one…): If you go to the Quick Sprout homepage, you’ll see the Quick Sprout tool, which you may or may not know about.
It takes your domain name and generates an incredibly detailed SEO and site performance report:
I include it here to illustrate that you can go as big or as small as you’d like with tools.
Small tools that cost a few hundred or thousand can still get a great amount of attention, but bigger tools usually get more.
Even though the tool is free, the leads that it has generated have already produced several times what I paid to have it created.
That’s the most important conclusion here: Tools can be used not only to get backlinks and traffic but to also produce revenue.
Blog posts convert at lower rates, and while they can produce a solid return on investment (ROI), it doesn’t compare to tools.
Are tools perfect? It’s only fair that I tell you about the potential downside of tools as well.
First is the potentially high cost. You’ll need to invest quite a bit before you ever see returns.
Secondly, results are never guaranteed. Not all tools are well received or popular, so you risk creating a tool that your audience doesn’t love.
However, if you really understand your audience and apply lean marketing principles, you can reduce the risk of this considerably.
Type #2: Viral story videos (almost commercials)
I think many people forget that videos and commercials are still a form of content.
Yes, people don’t like most commercials they see on TV, but smart marketers have figured out that there are certain types of ads that people love.
They’ll share these, link to them, and help them go viral.
My favorite example of this is Dollar Shave Club’s ad campaign.
Their first video came out of nowhere and was enough to establish the company as a household name:
This wasn’t a typical commercial about shaving blades, with all sorts of close-ups. You know the ones I’m talking about…
Instead, it’s an immensely entertaining video starring the founder.
They don’t include the standard platitudes that viewers are sick of hearing. Instead, they’re authentic.
I strongly encourage you to watch the full video now, before moving forward:
This video alone has received almost 22 million views along with 9,520 backlinks from 1,760 domains:
It’s true, creating a video like this isn’t cheap.
It will cost tens of thousands of dollars, and that’s why most businesses don’t even attempt it.
However, if you have the budget, it’s a great option. Just remember to also budget for the initial promotion (that hopefully pushes the video viral).
Type #3: High quality images are more valuable than ever before
I’m not sure why this idea did not take off in the past.
It’s not new.
The strategy is to create a whole bunch of custom images that bloggers in your niche would love to use.
Once you do, you let them know about the images and say they can use any of them free as long as they link back to your site, giving it credit.
If you’re a blogger, you know how hard it is to find great custom images, let alone free.
That’s why this is such an easy sell.
But now, I think this strategy is more effective than ever before.
There have never been more bloggers creating content on a regular basis. That’s one factor that raises the demand for images.
Additionally, most of those bloggers are realizing that quality is the most important factor in their success. That applies to both their writing and the images they use. This creates even more demand for high quality images.
If you can provide that, you will be successful.
Stock images suck, go for custom: There are tons of free stock image sites out there with the same old pictures of models dressed up, faking some pose.
There’s a reason why readers hate these: they look fake and unrelated to the content.
You could customize those stock images, but that’s more work than most bloggers are willing to put in.
Your best bet, when using this strategy, is to create a ton of custom images relevant to the topics that bloggers in your niche write about.
Here’s an example of one that I used on one of my past posts:
As you can see, it doesn’t necessarily have to be complex to look nice and enhance the content.
Take image building a step further and make images for stats: One specific approach you could take is to create images, essentially mini-infographics, that summarize important industry stats.
This approach has one huge bonus.
Think about a time when a blogger is searching for a good stat to use.
They head to Google and search for something like:
content marketing challenges stats
A good portion of the time, they will look for good images to include with the stats they find (I know I do):
If they see a good one, they’ll click on it and go through to the page that hosts it:
In this case, that page would be your gallery.
As long as you ask nicely for a link in exchange for the picture, you’ll usually get it.
The big benefit is that it’s easier to rank in image searches than regular results.
On top of the links you get from emailing specific bloggers, you’ll get links naturally from people who find your image gallery through this process.
But don’t rely on image traffic: If you want to control your ROI from this project, you need to promote your gallery to bloggers yourself.
Make as big of a list of bloggers as possible, and start emailing them with a message like this:
Subject: I made a free gallery of custom (niche) images
I know that it’s tough to find or create great images to use in blog posts, so I thought I’d do something for the (niche) community.
I’ve hired a designer to create a ton of custom images, some of which will probably be perfect for future posts you write. (I can’t use them all myself!)
The only catch is that I’d appreciate a link back to the gallery when you use a picture.
I’ll also be removing each picture once it’s used a few times so that none of them become too common.
If that sounds like something you’re interested in, let me know, and I’ll send you the link.
Type #4: Stats will drive the future
The final type of content that isn’t created as often as it could be is a list of stats.
Good bloggers love stats and will link to a source when they use a particular statistic in their content.
If you collect a ton of stats on different topics in your niche, they will often link to your page as a reference (on top of the original research studies).
For example, in a health niche, you could create stats for things like:
junk food consumption in 2016
average amount of protein in diets of different countries
number of vegans in 2016 (or over the years)
average minutes of exercise that people get per day
Think of stats that bloggers will be looking for.
To make it even more effective, conduct original research: The real power comes when you conduct your own surveys and data analyses.
Then, when a blogger wants to cite a stat from that research, they will link back to your site every single time.
You can easily get hundreds of links (or many more) if your research provides a useful, interesting result.
One business who does this sort of thing is Buzzsumo.
Crafty typography always strikes the eye, especially when it diversifies the website design that, as a rule, is lacking in adornments and ornamental elements. Though the lion’s share of artistic typography falls into graphic design (posters, booklets, magazine covers, flyers are highly populated with such kind of type), the web sphere also has something to offer.
What is more, web designers leverage various decorative fonts starting with classic exquisite hand-written ones and ending with modern sculptural ones with a powerful 3 dimensional appeal. The Internet has numerous collections with representative examples, so that we won’t “throw everything into one pile”; we are going to narrow our range and concentrate on one specific font style: today fancy, crafty typography with distinctive brush strokes is our main focus of attention. Let’s take a look at what we have found for you.
Web Design with Brush Stroke Typography
How to make the title look attention-grabbing? The answer is simple: just play on a contrast between background and foreground as well as going for a more artistic kind of typography. The landing page of this online portfolio demonstrates this method in action.
Jolby and Friends
Here, quirky, bold, brush type with a grunge feeling accurately excels from the video background and draws attention to the slogan; it is exactly what is needed. Moreover, the font choice reveals the true creative nature of the digital studio.
Hochburg looks positively messy. Who would have thought that this landing page with such an unbalanced, slightly cluttered appearance could look so impressive and intriguing. Here, brush-esque typography made in black fits like a glove, giving the page a powerful artistic vibe.
New York Summer
Elegant hand-written brush typography looks extremely gorgeous and appropriate when it is used for conveying a personality. Here, it even looks more sophisticated and refined thanks to complementary, clean, subtle, vector urban scenery.
Here brush typography with a subtle grunge note helps to make the title stand out from the background. Even being relatively small and surrounded by an amusing image, it still has its own charisma that is hard not to notice.
Thru You Too
Here, the title is thrust into the limelight. The designer turns a quite simple and pretty traditional color scheme into its advantage, having created the landing page with an absolutely refined and clean appearance that just can’t go unnoticed. The brush type helps to stamp the artist’s charismatic personality on the website design.
The title looks smooth and sleek. Such an appearance not only goes perfectly well with the urban scenery placed on the backdrop but also brings its own note of individuality.
Has it Leaked
Has it Leaked has an exquisite website design with a fragile creative vibe. Here everything contributes to the aesthetics: classic coloring, sketchy backdrop, graphics, and of course, decorative typography used for the logotype.
This is another splendid example of a website based on a black and white color scheme. As it turns out, this color choice naturally collaborates with brush typography that makes it shine with its inner radiance.
Peel Entertainment is marked by an elegant script style title, effectively reflecting a strong charisma of the agency that is behind this amazing website. The crafty typography lets the lettering ideally blend in, and at the same time, adds to the project a note of individuality.
The artist skillfully makes use of several types, effectively mixing and matching them. Thus, the sharp font with distinctive edges is supplemented by a sleek, hand-written typography that is used to emphasize the logotype and the title, making them look delicate and subtle yet with a barely noticeably brutal touch.
I Want My Startup
Here, the title sounds louder than ever. The artist has made sure that the watchword “I want my startup!” looks simply stunning through having it involved a sort of “heavy metal” of the design tools: toxic coloring, bold smooth massive letterings on the background and solid, sharp, relatively small, supporting lettering on the foreground, as well as excluding everything that could accidentally catch the eye.
Food-related websites, as a rule, feature a skillful combination of natural textures (usually, the choice falls into wooden textures and paper textures), appetizing images and of course, some crafty typography that will slightly diversify the appearance and give the project its charm. Knorr is no exception; it gets its marvelous and yummy appearance exactly from such sort of blend.
This website has several carefully selected typography choices: a regular font used for the copy, a script font used for the logotype and the decorative one with some distinctive brush touches is used for prettifying the headings. The latter, of course, is worthy of attention due to the natural traits that reinforce the general feeling on the website.
Here everything is imbued with the restaurant’s spirit. The bold, hand-written name literally marks every section, giving the website distinctiveness, beauty and powerful appeal.
The website is enlivened by a personal signature of the artist that brightens the front page not only with its touch of sparkling personality but also with a touch of creativity. Here, the artist opts for a quite piquant realization, having painted the signature in pink shades and supplied it with a white edging.
Void and Form
Art and music: what a strong and powerful combination. The website that should reflect the inner world of such a mighty tandem should also look impressive, intriguing and profound, much like Void and Form does, whose landing page can boast a highly artistic, yet a bit enigmatic, watercolor-esque appearance marked by a crafty logotype.
Brush typography looks gorgeous almost in any environment: whether it is placed in an art-inspired scene that can feature illustrations, drawings, watercolor art etc. or it is surrounded by objects and elements that can be hardly called artistic. It will certainly find its suitable place, adding its own piquancy.
In the struggle for potential clients, the end justifies the means. In the fierce competition among creative agencies where each one can boast an excellent resume bolstered by a bulk of mind-blowing works, it’s really difficult to take a stand, distinguish yourself from others and win over new clients. So it is quite self-evident that corporate identity as well as official website design, as a rule, is planned down to the last detail. Everything is taken into account in order to avoid any possible loopholes. Here, every element, even the tiniest one, plays a decisive role that is able to gain the favor of online visitors.
From lush header backgrounds that strengthen the first impression to minor social media icons that finish off the overall appearance, teams pay attention to every component, and verbal tool of communication is also not forgotten, though it seems to be a relic of the past. Front pages are marked by motivational, catchy, smart and even bold taglines that develop friendly and healthy relationships with users as well as bring them around. Let’s take a look at a selection of intriguing examples.
Get Shit Done Kit
Sounds rude but gets to the heart of the matter. The landing page with its rich header background exudes an image of brutality that goes perfectly well with the main tagline. Geometric shapes, sharp regular type, and a primitive color scheme adds to the overall atmosphere.
Pervolo’s online portfolio features a truly inspirational tagline that sets up an air of delicacy and sophistication: ‘We give wings to your business you decide where to fly’. Although due to densely packed together front page, the phrase slightly blends with the overall environment, when it catches the eye, it certainly enhances a favorable impression.
Hatch Collective opts for a good choice of phrase. ‘We raise the bar’ indicates that the agency not only keeps pace with the ever-changing world but it also is one of those who tries to call the tune. The second saying plays a supporting and inspirational role, ‘Our work, your eyes, it’s a love story.’
ThemePunch vividly stresses everyone’s desire – that is to make their website excel from others – through putting a heavy emphasis on the last two words. The website has an informal tone with its header backdrop that features a workflow. It helps to highlight the value of the tagline more strongly. ‘We make your website stand out.’
The team skillfully leverages the title of a well-loved movie ‘The Fast and The Furious’, slightly changing it into ‘The Fast and The Curious’; however, it still reflects its powerful spirit. Standing in a sharp contrast to the dark backdrop, the tagline naturally strikes the eye and entices users to scroll down.
Not only does the team demonstrate its creativity through an elaborate typographic centerpiece that is hard to miss but it also utilizes the verbal tool to announce this, ‘We are made of ideas’. A catchy slogan, which vividly describes the agency as a group of talented folks who are teeming with clever ideas, makes its significant contribution.
TSC tries to direct the attention to their enormous creative potential through a smart tagline, ‘Creativity is intelligence having fun’. Being displayed with the help of a subtle ultra-narrow type that gracefully interacts with the background, it goes well with ghost buttons, tiny solid icons, and an elegant logotype, creating a harmonious design.
Not only does the agency feature a clever motto with an interesting twist, ‘Consulting is our sport’, but it also supports it via an accompanying video that charges the page with a positive atmosphere. The saying naturally takes up the dominant position and perfectly conveys the concept.
Agigen tries to convince users to work with them by stating that they are doing a noble cause of populating the Web with excellent projects, ‘We make the web a better place’. The phrase is simply inspiring.
Born marks its front page only with 2 words that speak volumes, ‘Big experiences’, relying on the experience factor that is necessary for each project. In order to make the impact more powerful, the team has used a strong image backdrop that reinforces the slogan substantially.
Here is another phrase that utilizes “user experience” terms in order to win over potential clients, ‘We are craftsmen of beautifully branded user experiences’.
Here the creativity is evident; the landing page looks brilliant thanks to harmonious symbiosis of flat graphics and soft yet vibrant coloring. The tagline just strengthens the overall effect.
Parent with its clever statement tries to convey to the visitors that creating brand identity does not only mean to choose brand colors, as many do believe, it means much more, and they are perfectly aware of it, ‘Brand development that’s about more than just a colour palette’. As usual the startling contrast in tandem with enigmatic accompanying image backdrop dishes the meaning out correctly.
OneBlis encourages you to be ready for the tough world of the Web, choosing a proper phrase for communicating this message, ‘You better buckle up! ‘Cause you’re in for a long haul in a new digital world’. Although it looks a bit seamless and clumsy; however, it still manages to catch the attention.
Departement Creatif allows the image backdrop to speak for itself and create an authoritative and powerful atmosphere. The front page looks just sublimely and sophisticated. The catchy phrase ‘Rock the future’ slightly lightens the atmosphere, saving it from the pomposity.
New Deal Design
Although the team gives number one priority to the statement ‘Good Happens Here’ promising to be the right place for your needs, an accompanying phrase that lies underneath it and made in a tiny size is also worth attention, ‘We mix brains, bravery and magic to make people smile’. It adds to a friendly and positive aesthetics substantially.
Southpaw Agency has put a sincere effort into bringing around potential clients. The front page has a powerful, playful element that takes visitors on an actual experience. The phrase serves both as a link to the inner pages and as an inspiring tool, ‘Be brave or play safe’.
Planilandia seizes attention right away thanks to its dynamic and energizing “welcome” section. With its tagline, the team tries to make an indirect allusion to the fact that the agency is a birthplace of creativity, ‘Nobody knows where the creativity starts, we call it Planilandia’. So if you want your project to radiate originality you should apply strictly to them.
Form have succeeded in reflecting the workflow in the best way through two well thought out statements, ‘Inspired by purpose’ and ‘Driven by passion’. An office-related image background perfectly singles out the tagline and establishes a businesslike appeal.
The team skillfully manipulates the type in order to attach importance to a couple of words. The phrase states that regardless of its small size, the agency can cope with complex projects and bring to life outstanding ideas with memorable user experience. ‘The biggest little agency’.
Thepixelage stimulates users to choose their agency through two catchy phrases. The first one communicates the main appeal, so it is an eye-catcher due to its size and bold weight, ‘Bringing your digital dreams to life’, and the second one plays an accompanying role and brings its special zest, ‘An independent digital agency that is small in size but big in ideas’.
From outrageous and brutal to elegant and clever phrases, agencies not only push the limits in terms of design, but also try to impress online visitors with the help of a verbal communication tool. Although it lost a bit of its credibility and capabilities in the era of lavish images and splendid videos, properly implemented it still achieves spectacular results.