It’s all in the title. That’s what determines whether someone will start reading your latest article or flipping through your recently published book. I no longer have any doubts about this.
I’ve become so intrigued by this fact that I now look forward to receiving professional journals and magazines in the mail just so I can study the titles!
There’s clearly a science behind titling everything. Understand it and you can then easily replicate it.
Just as an example, in reviewing two recent business journals, I noticed words like:
- sustainability (frequently used)
- brand (frequently used)
- one of
I pulled out some more and the same concepts and patterns emerge. I’ve read what others have had to say on this topic and benefited from their analysis. I’m ready.
I now have my:
“8 steps to creating the perfect title!”
Step 1: Make a list of (a) the hot topics of the day and (b) universal challenges associated with the human endeavor.
As an example, I listed:
- people (talent is also good)
- time (time-tested is also good)
Step 2: Combine the various terms to create short phrases.
- Time-tested Branding Strategies
- Managing Innovation in a Time of Change
- Creative Learning Strategies for Talent Management
- Changing Strategy Through Innovation
Step 3: Let’s get quantitative. Add some numbers!
- 10 Time-tested Branding Strategies
- 7 Ways to Manage Innovation in a Time of Change
- 5 Creative Learning Strategies for Talent Management
- 3 Key Steps for Changing Strategy Through Innovation
Step 4: So far, so good. But we’re missing something, so let’s raise the emotional stakes by adding a competitive dimension Add words like: game, war, win, lose, success, dominate, etc. (And don’t forget the exclamation point!).
- The Innovation War!
- How to Succeed in the Creativity Game!
- 3 Steps to a Dominating Sustainability Strategy!
Step 5: This step is a refinement of Step 4. Looking back at the original list, I see evolution and survive. Sounds like a Darwinian struggle – survival of the fittest. Let’s give it a try while working in the other steps and adding a subtitle:
- The End of All Things: 7 Reasons Why Earth is Doomed (and what you can do about it!)
- Wars of Sustainability: The Evolving Conflict Between Animals and Plants!
Step 6: Play on fear! I’ve actually already introduced an example of this step in my prior list of titles. Here are my other examples:
- Aftershock! How Quality Management Sets Your Business Up for Failure!
- DOOM! 10 Reasons Why Sustainability Strategies Will Ruin Your Cash Flow!
- No More Profits: Why You Must Get Out Now and How to Do It
Step 7: Make it a manifesto (or something related to radicals or revolutionaries). The key is to make it sound like YOU are the revolutionary and it’s YOUR manifesto.
- Keep it Running! A Business Continuity Manifesto
- Who Said To? A Change Management Manifesto
- I Don’t Document Anything! The Next Software Engineering Revolution
- You Test It! A Manifesto for the Coming SQA Revolution
Step 8: You always have the option to go counter to the competitive, evolutionary strategy approach by staking out the “non-competitive” position. This can be risky. It’s all about zeitgeist and your ability to interpret the spirit of the times. But there is a niche for it.
- Wait Your Turn: Learning to Manage in a Time of Shortages
- I Give Up! 12 Ways to Stop Trying and Start Living
- I Lose, I Win: How Losing Can Actually Position You for Success
Well, those are my steps. With a little practice, you can be generating best-selling titles in no time! I wish you the best.
By the way – If it were to turn out that some of my examples have actually been used as titles, I apologize, but it’s purely coincidence.
by Don Appleby, Connect with Don here.
Originally Published on profappleby.com