Friday, June 12, 2009

The Seven Secrets of...

Every summer, blog traffic slows down a bit, which usually occasions some musings on better marketing. So, some musings on titles...

“The” is so much more powerful than “a,” or even a number. Compare:

A List of Ways to Run Better Meetings

Okay, it's clear, but I'm bored before I even get to the end of the phrase.

7 Ways to Run Better Meetings

The '7' suggests at least some level of discipline (or finitude), but it still lacks a certain urgency.

The 7 Secrets to Better Meetings

Much better. Did your tricks make the cut? Are there really only seven? Such authority! Such confidence! The “The” implies a finality to it, and invites guessing, which is a form of buy-in. And 'secrets' is so much better than 'ways.' Urgency and mystery! And anyone who knows 'secrets' must have special access to something!

The definite article (“the”) somehow lends both gravitas and urgency, which is a neat trick. It inspires a certain faith that the author actually knows something about something. Is the faith warranted? If you actually want to know, you're already hooked.

Of course, there's still the limiting factor of 'better meetings' as a topic. Since 'meetings' are kind of business-y, and the default business culture is male, it's useful to throw in gratuitous celebrity references from a category that officially appeals to men: athletes, the powerful, and hot chicks.

Joe Torre's 7 Secrets to Better Meetings

Okay, cool, there's a guy-approved celebrity with a track record in a guy-approved field, and I've still got the 'secrets' thing going. I've also got a bulletproof excuse for lots of anecdotes about famous people. In old media -- books -- this would be enough. But in internet land, if you really want traffic, it's all about the hot chicks.

Audrina Patridge Shares the 7 Secrets to Better Meetings

Close. Almost there. But there's still that 'better meetings' angle. Word order may help.

The 7 Secrets to Meeting Audrina Patridge

Okay, I'm in the ballpark, but it's a little stalker-y. I'm trying to generate readers, not restraining orders. A subtle change should do it.

Audrina Patridge's 7 Secret Meetings Revealed!

Perfect. Add some pictures and bullet points, use the phrase "web 2.0" a lot, and I'm good to go.

Or I could just make peace with the summer lull. Either way is good.