🧑‍🔬 How Headway Challenges You To Be Your Best Self

Are you ready for greatness?

Headway, an app which summarizes key ideas from the world’s nonfiction bestsellers, launched in 2019, and now has over 30 million users.

Their ads compel you to take action by challenging you to be your best self.

They do it with The Pygmalion Effect.

Here’s what I mean:

🧪 The Pygmalion Effect

The Pygmalion Effect is a psychological phenomenon in which high expectations lead to improved performance (and vice versa).

When we feel a sense of challenge - a calling of increased expectations - we like to rise to the occasion and take action.

🤳 How Headway Uses the Pygmalion Effect

Headway uses the the Pygmalion Effect by challenging you to take action and become your best self (by downloading the app):

Note: I do think there are a lot of improvements that can be made in terms of how the challenge is framed and the design of these ads but these are simply to show the idea of Pygmalion Effect.

By presenting a challenge, they compel you to take action.

They make you feel like you can do more with your life.

And that Headway is the tool to do so.

It seems to work: their Facebook Ad Library has 36,000 ads just in the United States, almost all using the Pygmalion Effect.

The Pygmalion Effect can also increase brand loyalty if the desired outcome is fulfilled:

If someone took Headway’s New Year’s Challenge, completed it, and felt better about themselves, they would feel a sense of loyalty to Headway.

They also use the Pygmalion Effect in their images on the App Store:

🧠 How You Can Use The Pygmalion Effect

The key to The Pygmalion Effect is to make your customers believe in their own capacity of fulfilling their desires and dreams - you, the brand, are just here to help guide them.

Because here’s the thing:

We don’t buy products.

We buy transformations of ourselves.

We buy a better version of ourselves.

Even when we make a donation, we do it knowing it will make us feel good.

What’s the transformation you’re selling and how can you challenge your customer to go after it?

For example:

  • Set high expectations for your customer in your messaging

  • Highlight how your product can help them achieve their dreams

  • Show the end result: what life looks like when they achieve their dreams

  • Challenge your customer not to “settle” for a lower tiered alternative (ie., your competitors)

Here are some hooks using the Pygmalion Effect:

  • "Transform your [desired outcome] from ordinary to extraordinary with [product].”

  • “Don’t settle for [hint at competitor]. Become your best self with [product]”

  • “[insert number of users] have achieved [desired outcome] with [product]. Now it’s your turn.”

  • Become a [desired outcome] Challenge

So, how will you use the Pygmalion Effect in your ads?

How can you challenge your customers in a way that leads to them using your product?

Let me know how it goes!

Until next time,


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Some Links You May Find Interesting:

  • How to Write a High-Converting Ad Headline Using Psychology: Creative Strategist, Sarah Levinger, wrote another great thread about how to use psychology to write high-converting headlines.

  • Hacking Midjourney for Insane Ad Creative: Rory Flynn, of Systematiq AI, breaks down how to use Midjourney to create ad creative. The link here starts the video where he begins to get into the details of how Midjourney works. If you’re using Midjourney, I suggest pausing the video as he walks through some prompts to try them out yourself. He also goes into how to use it with Figma to create ad templates (and how he created 1000 ads in less than one hour).