The Menu #39: A new mental model for writing headlines

The Menu

By Amanda Natividad | @amandanat

I still struggle with headlines. But one heuristic that helps me is to think of the piece of content (blog post, newsletter edition, video, thread, etc) as a solution to the consumer's problem.

And from there, I think of these questions to spur ideas:

  • What problem am I solving for the consumer?
  • Can I give a name to a commonly felt problem or feeling?
  • What does this content help someone achieve?
  • What little-known solution am I providing?

I hosted a workshop this week on writing effective headlines and hooks. You can check out the full replay on YouTube. You'll also see:

  • Teardowns of great content (examples from Rand Fishkin, Dan Runcie, Sara Campbell, and more)
  • Tools to help you with your drafting process
  • A self-roast of some of my past content and what I should have done differently

If you want to learn more from me and my approach to content marketing strategy, join the next cohort of Content Marketing 201.

🤓 Courses on my radar

Supercharge Your Productivity by Khe Hy: This productivity course has been on my radar since 2020 and I haven't had the bandwidth to take it. But this time, I was able to plan ahead and I'm doing the May 3 cohort. I've joined a few of Khe's free workshops and loved his approach to tackling productivity woes from their existential roots. Maybe you'll consider joining as well! (Full disclosure: affiliate link.)

Delivering Value by Andrew Capland: This is a new self-paced course by B2B SaaS growth marketer Andrew Capland. Though the target audience is for heads of growth within in their first 90 days, and I'm nearly 1 year into my role at SparkToro, I excitedly signed up for his beta launch. I'm still going through course materials (I'm slow!) but really enjoying it so far because I think there's always something new to learn in SaaS growth marketing. (Not an affiliate link; I just like this course so far!)

Agile Startup Marketing by Amanda Goetz: If I were starting a marketing strategy from scratch or founding my own startup, I would take Amanda's course. Her career spans business consulting and brand marketing, and she founded House of Wise, a CBD startup. I think companies in highly regulated industries are the future of marketing: because they can't run traditional ads, they have to rely on organic and word of mouth. And so, Amanda would be an awesome person to learn marketing from. (Not an affiliate link; I just trust Amanda.)

🍰 Petits Fours

Four bite-sized blurbs linking to interesting content.

🔹 Lessons from Mr. Beast: Most people my age or older don't know who Mr. Beast is. Or if they do, they roll their eyes at him being a famous YouTuber. But I'm fascinated by anyone who breaks through the noise in any way. My friend Paul Millerd summarized some key points from Mr. Beast's recent interview on Joe Rogan, and what we can all learn from him. Paul writes a newsletter on carving out your own life/career path. Be sure to subscribe! (Speaking of Mr. Beast, here's an underrated tweet about him being on the cover of Rolling Stone.)

🔸 The story of Betsy & Irv: It is a special thing when you find a nugget in someone's writing that harkens back to their previous work. The very first piece I read from Tom Junod was his profile of Fred Rogers. In this thread, Junod urges people to "be a helper." It immediately reminded me of Mister Rogers. It is also a special thing when a promotional thread brings you to tears. Betsy & Irv is the latest ESPN documentary, and it tells the story of one stranger choosing to be a helper: Irv Pankey was the only person who stood by Betsy Sailor when she testified against her rapist — Irv's teammate on their college football team.

🔹 What if you could subscribe to content that your favorite influencers like? I stumbled upon Reclists, a customizable newsletter. It's a weekly digest of the articles, podcasts, videos, and books that people are engaging with on social media. For instance, you can subscribe to the content that, say, Balaji Srinivasan or Gaby Goldberg are also consuming.

🔸 Writing advice from a writer: "The internet is not destroying writing. I think the internet’s impact on writing has been mixed, but I actually think that the overall level of prose style out there now is way better than it was 15 or 20 years ago."

🍚 Salmon Teriyaki

  • 2 4-oz salmon filets
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, minced
  • 1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 serving of a vegetable, sliced (I used bell peppers)
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • Rice
  • Green onions, thinly sliced

Lightly sprinkle salt and pepper on salmon filets.

Whisk together teriyaki marinade: garlic, ginger, soy sauce, water, sugar, vinegar, sesame oil. Pour over salmon filets and let marinate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Make rice in your rice cooker, or whatever it is you do.

Heat a nonstick pan over medium-high. Add a dollop of ghee or cooking oil. Saute vegetables until tender-crisp, several minutes. Set aside.

In the same pan, saute the salmon skin-side down until the salmon is cooked one-third of the way through, 3-4 minutes. Flip and cook until just done, maybe 4 more minutes.

While the salmon is cooking, pour the marinade into a small saucepan and bring to a low boil. Mix together a cornstarch slurry (1 teaspoon cornstarch + 1 tablespoon water) and stir in until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.

Plate your dish!

🥐 If you liked this... maybe share it?

This might sound silly, but I am so close to hitting 3,300 subscribers... and I'd love it if you shared this newsletter with a friend.

Uh... I don't have a referral program or a fancy referral link. But if you get a friend to sign up who actually wants this marketing and creativity-adjacent newsletter and you let me know, I'm happy to offer some feedback on a marketing campaign or blog post you're working on. 🙂

Have a great week!

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