Does brainstorming help you write better headlines?

November 29, 2011 | By | 3 Replies More

Brainstorming is a bit crap.

Or is it?

It’s a difficult one.

I say this:

You should never disregard brainstorming as a tool for generating ideas.

As a copywriter, when it comes to generating original and engaging headlines for a promotion, you’ve got to develop your own style.

Me; I tend to pace up and down a lot. I kind of stab my hand about a bit like as though I’m trying to karate chop a log into an ornate ornament. I speak aloud random lines and generally look a bit mad.

What’s interesting about this approach is that I do it all away from the PC or notepad I’m writing on.

You see, I don’t like to write a thing before I’ve got a clear idea forming in my head.

Of course, it’s not the same for everyone. I know copywriters whose first step is to just start writing headlines and chip and chop at them until something interesting starts to take shape.

I know other writers who write the lead and vast majority of the promotion itself before they even think about the headline. (Personally, I think this is very dangerous – but, whatever works.)

Here’s the thing though…

All of these techniques are brainstorming.

Huh? No it’s not, Glenn. It’s er… it’s… ah crap, it is, isn’t it!

Yup. I’m afraid ‘brainstorming’ is a bit of a trick word really. It makes sense now – any time you’re using your brain to knock around disparate ideas in the hope bringing together one cogent idea: you’re brainstorming.

Don’t be too hard on yourself though. We tend to associate ‘actual’ brainstorming with drawing a keyword on a blank piece of paper and then jotting down different little offshoot ideas on spiders’ legs.

Something like this:

Using brainstorming to create copywriting headlines

Yup. That’s starting to look more like a bit of actual brainstorming – not some weird guy stalking around outside chopping his arm in the air.

It’s THIS kind of brainstorming that we tend to laugh at and consider a bit crap.

But it’s this kind of brainstorming that I encourage you to not disregard completely.

You see, this is actually a picture of some of my own notes that I recently made when writing a new sales promotion.

Why did I choose to interrupt my usual routine with this cliché technique? Because sometimes our brains need a little push.

I’d been pacing up and down for a while. I’d chopped my arm about in the air. And I’d stood there randomly saying possible headlines aloud.

But I could get it. Nothing was clicking.

So, I sat down for a brief moment and jotted up and down the page all the main features of the product that I could think of at that moment.

Then I jotted down some feedback I’d got about the product already – and some objections about other similar products.

I then stared at that page for quite a while.

Eventually, an idea started to form. I pushed aside this page and turned to my screen.

Within half an hour I’d written three different headlines and leads. Each was stronger than the last. In fact, the third of these I believe could be the basis of an incredibly successful sales promotion.

Yet interestingly, nothing I’d written on that scrap of paper made it into the actual headlines.

You see, this traditional form of brainstorming is not the be all and end all; it’s merely a means to an end. It’s a platform, a tool. A secret weapon that you can call upon to compliment your own style, if you reach a dead-end.

So, brainstorming isn’t as crap as you might think it is. In fact, it could help you come up with a breakthrough headline.

Best wishes,
Glenn

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Category: Technicals

About the Author ()

Glenn Fisher is a professional copywriter, founder of AllGoodCopy.com and author of Write Better Copy. He is an expert in long copy sales letters, having written copy that has so far generated more than £10 million in revenue. Born in Grimsby, he now lives in London.

Comments (3)

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  1. Tom Sugden says:

    Thanks for this Glenn. Seems an obvious solution but I’ve been stuck writing a new pack for a couple of days now and this really helped me out. Ended up with a massive spider diagram of product benefits. Keep up the posts.

  2. TopCopy14 says:

    you can not go wrong with writing your ideas down first. I always brainstorm before writing a new promotion for a client. good post

  3. Carol_Giffin says:

    Haha. Love the thougth of you mumbling headlines out loud to yourself.

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