I Want You to Want Me: Cheap Trick or Rockin’ Headline?

If you’ve read my 30-Minute CopyMaster guide, you know I recommend (and use) a reader-centric writing style that is generally positive or supportive in tone, and authentic in voice.

An authentic, supportive, reader-centric style can end up sounding as unique as you want according to the intention for your copy. Take my own site or this post as an example–and then look through my portfolio and read what I write for my clients.

stay classy copymaster pen to zenThey have their businesses, their audiences, their intentions–but you can sense the same approach to the work. A good, reliable person is behind each of their business offers. And mine, too.

I write this way because it’s proven to work better for the quality results I’m seeking. And by the way, although I say doing this makes us CopyMasters, I know I’m not the final authority on writing. There are many experts, and we don’t all agree. Besides, writing wisely and generously, with compassion for your audience, is more about what not to do.

Just know my suggestions for you are based on years of observation, and honestly, personal preference and values. I’m a consumer and reader, too.

For example, I don’t believe in formulaic headlines. Or pummeling people with their pain points. I made that clear in my piece for Bad Blogging Advice.

I also don’t care for cheap tricks like using a song lyric which will get clicks from search results when the article has nothing to do with the–hey, wait a minute…

Why I Used a Cheap Trick Line

I want to prove a few points with this headline. Plus it also appears as a subject line in my email series to all of you who subscribe to pen to Zen and get my book, Become a 30-Minute CopyMaster. Allow me to present my rationale:

1. Even though “I want you to want me” is a popular song lyric and may cause some people to find this post when they meant to find out something about the band Cheap Trick, I used it as a relevant subject line for an email about how I DO want you to want me, for real. You might remember, or will be getting it soon. I want to write about what you care about and I ask that you tell me–in comments or email me at: faithw[at]pentozen[dot]com {sorry, that’s so I can avoid the spambots}

2. So, you see that the line was not exactly a cheap trick, though it was a little tricky in that it was clever. I do employ the pun or double entendre on occasion, as that is my style. I try not to get carried away with it, because it’s not for everyone and I’ve learned I’m not always successful at it, either. However, I stay authentic. So it’s not strange that I make this reference.

3. Even less strange is that I make a musical reference. Or any pop culture reference, actually, because that is also authentic to me–not just the writer me, but the me that is Faith in Real Life. I’ve offered the Zen of Elvis and I’ve been Schooled by Dylan, why not jump to the year I graduated High School for a song I didn’t even like then, but it gives me lots of memories now? In fact, I love the cover from the soundtrack for 10 Things I Hate About You, done by Letters to Cleo.

4. Today as I write this, on the day after Robin Williams was found dead in his home, people are using his name in their headlines all over the internet. Some stories are genuine but many will be using that name and anything related to it to gain eyes and clicks for their work. I can’t judge, but I’ll admit, I simply don’t agree. However, we’ve seen a similar technique work to get attention in many forms. When Taylor Swift named her song “Tim McGraw” and Sheryl Crow named hers “Steve McQueen,” they got a lot of hits for the wrong content. You can’t copyright a title or song line, so a headline or subject line is open for the same kind of word play and results. Anyway… that’s not what I was doing here. I’m truly discussing using “I want you to want me” as a headline vs. a cheap trick. It just so happens…

5. I Want You To Want Me is a strong performer among my email subject lines. I have my theories as to why. First, I added the tag –In a Friendly Way. I didn’t want to insinuate anything too sexy or lewd, so that made it cute and accessible. Perhaps it caused some curiosity. We have to be careful not to be too playful or elusive with our subject lines. But if they fit with our voice, we can keep some interest, yes? This one has a 58% open rate for me. That’s up there with the best of mine, which are usually over 52%.

6. Continuing with my theories on why this line has worked so well to get people to read the email it’s attached to (remember, that’s also the point of a headline–to get people to read the next line): I circle back to my belief in being supportive and positive. I like to write in YOUR best interests, and even when I borrow a song lyric, I want you to know that I mean it. This stands in contrast to one of my worst performers which I wrote using an approach I borrowed from Eugene Schwartz, one of the fathers of direct response copy, a true genius, and the author of the classic book Breakthrough Advertising.

Know Your Intention

See, not all Mr. Schwartz did applies to what I am doing. Audiences and mindsets matter. He successfully probed deep with the question, “Do you have the courage to make $500,000 a year?” I probed with, “Do you offer services that really matter?” and that email open rate is hovering down around 44%

The email I sent explains that I would bet you provide services that matter, but want to make sure you offer them to sound like they really matter as much as they do, and should, to your audience. Then it talks about writing your service offerings.

It’s not an epic fail, but I’m afraid the subject line reads more like a cheap trick than I want it to. It has that, “didn’t I see you crying?” tone to it. Know what I mean? We’re often advised to hit on our prospects’ problems, but do we really want headlines that insinuate about their weaknesses, or remind us how we’re feeling all alone without a friend, you know, we feel like dyin’?

I don’t. So that’s why I don’t usually write them, and why I don’t adhere to recommendations that say we should because of random data that points to how this “works.” I’ve now shown you a different experiment. Not working.

But I am leaving the subject lines of my emails for now, to see if their percentages change as my audience continues to expand. So far, I am still convinced: If you want me to want you…

You better be good to me. Oh I love me some Tina Turner. Paul Rudd ain’t too shabby either.

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