Headlines: another look at what this does in an advertisement

It’s been a while and am remiss updating my blog. Let me touch on a favourite subject: headlines.

I am reading a book on copywriting and the way the author presents this subject is different to other books I’ve read previously on the subject. In future posts, I will cover some new and some old points that I have rediscovered.

In a previous post, I harped about headlines, or rather, the lack of it.

Have your ever considered that just about any sales message, whether in print or on-line needs a headline–a good one.

Let’s face it, the headline of your sales message is what pulls a reader or visitor to your website. I would say that it would be responsible for up to 80% of the response from that sales message. So, let’s face it, the success or failure of most marketing efforts rests very much on the power of your headline.

In a print advertisement, 10-20% of your prospective readers will read your ad. That’s it. So, if you have a so-so headline, you can lose pretty much all the prospective readers of your ad.

To capture your prospective reader, you need to grab him/her with a good, punchy headline.

As covered earlier and again here, a headline is just so important. Even poorly written ads have been successful because of the overwhelming power of a good headline. Your prospects will decide whether to read your sales message in only two or three seconds. That is all the time they will give you to scan your headline. Really, you and I are no different.

We do not READ a newspaper, we SCAN the headlines – article headlines and ad headlines. We are looking for only for what interests us at the moment we read.

Consider how you would read a newspaper. You scan the headlines and then proceed to read the body of the article, if the headline interests you.

A headline comprises the first words at the top of a newspaper ad. It is the title of your article, the subject line of your email or letter, or the top of your web page. Some quick pointers:

Make sure that your headline is the first group of words that your reader sees. I’ve seen fancy layouts with the headline buried in the body of an ad. So, subtle and yet so easy to miss. We’re not out to win awards for ad layouts, but to make sales is something that I believe in.

Ads that go against this point put their logo on the top, where the headline should be. If you just want to get subliminal messages through, without trying to get your reader to go through the body copy, this might work. Otherwise, it’s a complete waste of time.

The headline should pull in the reader with some sort of promise. Once, you get the reader’s attention, the eyes will be pulled down to your logo, as part of your signature.

Of the readers who will see your ad, something like 10-20% will have an interest in your message. If you miss out on these readers, you’ve just done your money.

The headline should not only have a promise, it should be catchy and noticeable. Some headlines just describe the product that’s advertise and that’s it. Ho-hum. “1 tonne widget”. So, what’s the promise. Mind you if someone is looking for a 1 tonne widget, this could be enough to pull him/her through the body copy.

Now, why not something like “You can save money with our 1 tonne widget”, better yet, “How you can save money with our 1 tonne widget”.

Note the use of the word “you” in both headlines, making the appeal directly to the reader. Also note the appeal to the hip pocket nerve, to get the reader’s curiosity going.

Let’ not forget that we will not interest all readers, only the 10-20% who may be in the market for a 1 tonne widget. And, since the reader’s curiosity is piqued, he/she will read on. Now lose the reader at this stage, and he/she will go no further.

So, some thought should always be put in a headline.

When I write ads, I usually put as much work in the headline as I do with the body copy. I will touch on body copy on another post.

Until then…

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