Archive for March, 2012

8 Gimmicky Headlines

Once you become aware of a particular way you are being manipulated you will notice it more, and quickly become irritated and hypersensitive to it.

Everyone is trying to promote their blogs, or e-zines, or whatever form of writing they are producing for the sake of selling adds. A major trend for the past couple of years has been the perfection of eye-grabbing headlines.

A few examples:

  • (first, see the headline of this post)
  • 3 Words that Guarantee Failure
  • The 5 Qualities of Remarkable Bosses
  • 10 Executives Share the Best Advice They Ever Got
  • The 6 Worst Things You Can Say to Your Spouse
  • The Top 3 Ways to Get Past Gatekeepers
  • 7 Ugly Tattoos You Have to See to Believe
  • Top 5 Myths of B to B Word of Mouth
  • 6 Sneaky Ways to Make Any Meal Healthier.

See a trend? Amidst all the hyperbole they all have numerals in them. And they aren’t spelled out, as would usually be correct (for numbers under 10 at least). Admittedly these kinds of headlines can be seductive. They play on how busy we are and our lack of attention span. Presumably the reader will think, “Oh, here is something I can quickly digest that will provide something concrete.” Only in many cases they don’t.

Everyone is battling for readers so they’ll pretty much stop at nothing to get your eyeballs on them for a minute. There are some good ones, of course, but now that this technique has been identified there are so many of these articles that just turn out to be noise. It has effectively jumped the shark.


As someone who has been in a number of different supervisory roles for many years let me provide a little insight.

When you the employee arrive with an issue it should stand on its own, with you as the source. Many times employees feel the need to say things like, “I’m not naming any names, but…”

“Many other people feel this same way.”

“I know of several people who are very close to jumping ship (because of _____).”

And all the variations therein. This usually doesn’t help make your point stronger. We’ve all heard this stuff many times. Usually it’s bogus. Quite a few people before you have made similar statements and most (not all) of the time the disgruntled individuals never surface in any demonstrable way. I’m not suggesting that it may not be true in some cases, but I do (now) believe that most of the time it is exaggerated.

Unless you are ready to get specific and name names you should refrain from this. It actually weakens your case and damages your credibility, in part because it makes me think you think your point isn’t strong enough to stand on its own.

If you have a valid point/issue, then stand up and make your case. Own it. If you are coming forth representing other people (with or without their consent) then be specific and be prepared to identify them. If they don’t want to be identified then let them handle their own issues. If the issue is valid there is no need for you to take one for them if they aren’t willing to stand behind it themselves, unless of course you are in a role of representing subordinates.

If your case isn’t strong enough to stand on its own then I suggest you just suck it up and deal with it.

Pick your battles.

Don’t Insult Your Best Customers

A scenario that happens too often: someone receives marketing from a company she is currently doing business with offering a better deal to new customers. Cable and phone companies are notorious for this. Rather than rewarding customers for loyalty, you communicate to them in a very direct and concrete way that you now see them as a commodity.

Not only do you have a better deal for people who haven’t been supporting you, but you don’t even think enough of your customers to take the time to pull their names and addresses out of the list for marketing the new offer.

No loyalty breeds no loyalty. You’ve put it in their face that not only do you not really value them, but also that they are trapped in the contract you probably forced them to sign to get the deal, which means they are inherently looking for a way to jump ship. And this means you always have to be in a mode of new customer acquisition. Do you really make enough– after all the promotion costs —¬†on that two year contract you force them to sign for it to all be worth it?


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