Sharpen your pencil and follow these easy directions
IF YOU HAVE EVER written an advertisement, you know that the headline makes or breaks the ad’s selling power. This is because headlines are the first—and oftentimes only—thing read by busy consumers.
What many marketing pros do not know is that there is a science and art to writing headlines that sell—if you know how to go about it. Here are some simple, tested hints from masters like David Ogilvy and John Caples. Be sure your product offers superior value at a great price before following these directions.
Five times as many people read headlines as read body copy. So make them count!
Long ain’t bad…
It’s a myth that customers won’t read long headlines. Research shows long headlines that are crafted well can outperform shorter ones.
…But no blind headlines
Blind headlines do not mention the product, company, benefit, offer, promise—anything of value to customers. Toss them out.
Follow the main headline with a clarifying subhead
It pays to follow the main headline with a secondary headline that further clarifies the promise. Subheads can be even longer and more specific than the main headline.
Humor is hard
Writing humor is a difficult task best reserved for specialists.
‘You,’ ‘FREE,’ ‘now’
Use the most magical three words in advertising.
If possible, mention the local city or region in your headline.
Three headlines that work
1. Promise useful information
Most people love to learn something new. Give them tips, advice, facts. Not convinced? Then why are your reading this?
2. Self-interest with curiosity
An element of curiosity mixed with customers’ self-interest tend to pull well.
Headlines with news tend to do well. Use words like ‘announcing’ or ‘introducing.’
A note on shock value
Many writers mistakenly try to shock readers with clever, snarky, or gotcha headlines. Shock may get attention, but customers oftentimes feel empty afterward (or worse, betrayed).
Motivate with time limits
Setting a time limit on an offer is a proven way to get customers to act.
Specifics work better than generics
Vague generalities rarely do well with customers. Be specific by using facts, data, and real numbers. And avoid claims like ‘Quality you can’t beat’ or ‘The Leader in Auto Repair.’
“Add some quotes”
Research shows putting quotes around a headline increases reader recall by 28%.
Mention the brand
The headline may be the only part of an ad customers read, so try to include the brand.