What do zombie apocalypses, Alec Baldwin and power-suited superheroes have in common? They are all used to headline B2B campaigns.

Surprised? Don’t be. First, here are the proofs:

  • About two years ago, a financial IT systems consultant asked companies how prepared they were against disasters, such as a zombie outbreak.
  • A leading networking systems provider got Alec Baldwin to sell the virtues of its telepresence solution…on 30 Rock.
  • Then, an IT security leader deployed a superhero to help an overworked IT administrator back up his systems faster—and score a date.

The game is changing for B2B. Today, the battle for the eyeballs of business customers has grown stronger. Organisations worldwide are upping the ante with bigger and better ideas. As this happens, so will the standard for B2B headlines. The price of not being imaginative will only get higher as time passes. Today, only 2 out of 10 people will read past the headlines and the rest of your copy.

Just use the example of the zombie outbreak. If I were to put these two headlines side by side, which would you click on?

Option 1

Discover the principle of systems availability

Option 2

Can your business survive a zombie attack?

I think the answer is clear. And this difference could affect your marketing results by as much as 500 percent!

Ultimately, businesses are run by people. There is no such thing as a unified hive-mind entity that is reading your headline. When you send a company an email, it is not an abstract concept that you are talking to. It is someone in a real physical room in a real physical department—who may have just came back from lunch. Combine this with the hundreds of emails we receive in a day, and you have yourself a warzone. And in a fight, you got to do what it takes to win.

None of us gets to use cool pop culture references all the time. So in such by-the-book cases, deploy the tried-and-tested headline techniques like “Top 5”s, “Don’t Miss”s, “Make the Right Call”s and “3 Ways to…”

But when you get that amazing project once in a while that gives you full reign to go crazy, don’t hold back, because your competitors sure aren’t. Find out what your customers like or are watching, including you (don’t forget you are a customer yourself). Whether it’s the Zen-like Mad Men finale or the stunning Unbelievable video, if it’s trending, you should be exploiting.

So the next time you sit down to write that headline, sit down and think hard. And most importantly, have fun.


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