Headlines are the most critical part of any sales material; letter, advert, brochure, web site, sales script - in fact anything you write to promote your business product or service.
The most important thing to remember when creating your headline is what interests you may not attract your audience. A strong headline for you may not cause even the slightest ripple of attention from others - and what appeals to them may have no substance in your eyes.
TEST IT FOR YOURSELF…
After reading this article, write 4 or 5 headlines for your product or service you think works. Now ask 4 or 5 people, preferably not family or close friends, to place the headlines in the order that appeals to them.
I think you will find it is highly unlikely everyone will have placed them in the same order.
This is why you should not be satisfied with the first headline you think of and, when you have found a few headlines that seem to make sense, you should still test.
HOW TO MAKE YOUR HEADLINE EYE-CATCHING AND COMPELLING
Write as many headlines as possible for your marketing message - don’t stop at one or two.
Be clear - don’t be obscure or ‘clever’. If your reader has to think about what you mean he/she’s not going to bother with it and he certainly won’t be encouraged to read the rest of your letter.
Describe the result and a real benefit for him/her (not for you) as these do…
New system guarantees you will lose
weight permanently - or your money back
In an advert this could be shortened to…
Guaranteed, Permanent Weight Loss
But these are ‘general claim’ headlines, very much the same as used by many other companies. Neither of them really stands out.
Be specific in your headline. You attract attention and make it more believable. Don’t worry if the headline is long - when you are saying something your reader has a keen interest in the length is not relevant…
New system guarantees you will lose at least
10lbs in weight within 28 days, without
exercising or starving yourself, and what’s more
it will be permanent - or you can have your money back
Make your headline big and bold. In an advert, up to a third of the advertising space can be taken up with the headline.
Evidence shows that using certain
words in a headline substantially
increases the reader attention
There are many ‘attention grabbing’ words which, used in headlines, have proved to increase responses from people attracted enough to read further.
These ‘attention’ words have been used in many highly successful direct mail letters and adverts over the last 30 or 40 years - and are still as effective today. Here are 10 with examples where they’ve been used:
YOU / YOUR - People are interested, primarily, in anything that helps them; makes their life easier or more enjoyable. Including the word You / Your catches their attention.
Your Investment in Pinesuites Development
Could Be Worth Up To £12,960 per Year in Income
In this headline the specific value of the income attracted an impressive response (44.2%).
Do You Make These Mistakes In English?
This is a curiosity headline; the reader wants to know what these mistakes are and if he/she makes them. If the word ‘these’ had been left out the headline would not have got the high response it did. This headline is from one of the highest performing adverts of all time.
WHO ELSE - this is using the ‘me too’ principle. The offer implies someone else has already benefited and your reader could as well. Again being specific in the headline also helps.
Who Else Wants To Lose
10lbs In 28 Days?
WHICH - using ‘which’ in the headline creates curiosity - part of what makes us human is our curiosity. If the headline is asking your reader an intriguing question he/she wants to know more.
Five Familiar Skin Troubles -
Which Do You Want to Overcome?
By using the word ‘which’ the reader is unconsciously thinking about a skin problem he may have that he could clear up.
NOW - implies ‘at last’ here is something worthwhile or beneficial for the reader.
Now You Can Get a Business Loan -
Even if Your Bank Has Turned You Down
NEW - always a good word to use - provided what you are offering is new. People like new things, ideas and innovation. Curiosity makes them want to know more.
New Offer - Buy One Get One Free
BARGAIN - everyone likes a bargain. We all like to think we have got a brilliant deal:
Fantastic Bargain, 3-in-1 Business Seminar
at a Massively Reduced Price
FREE - although many people think this word is overused, it still attracts attention. Even though we all tend to believe there is ‘no such thing as a free lunch’ we are still intrigued by the possibility of receiving something without any cost to us.
Free Report Reveals 54
Secrets of Marketing Experts
HOW / HOW TO - using these words implies education and information. Finding out ‘how to’ do or get something or ‘how’ something affected an outcome attracts anyone who likes to know more about what is going on. Tying this with a problem your reader may have makes it even more effective.
How to Have a Cool, Quiet Bedroom -
Even on Hot Nights
HURRY - creates a sense of urgency, especially if it ties in with a ‘bargain’ or time limited offer.
“Hurry this drastically reduced offer
is only available for 10 days
BREAKTHROUGH - implies whatever is offered is at the ‘cutting-edge’ and therefore your reader would be amongst the first to benefit from the service or product.
Breakthrough Business Seminar Gives You
Insider Secrets to Marketing, Commercial Funding
and Handling Business Growth Effectively
There are many more - look at any marketing mail you receive or any adverts that catch your attention - what is it attracted you? Would other people react in the same way? Could you adopt and adapt the essence of the headline for your service or product?
Using the examples I’ve given as a guide, write headlines for your business. Come up with 2 for each response word I’ve listed here.
2: Who Else
8: How/How to
Congratulations! - You have just written 20 headlines for your business!
Don’t stop there… repeat the exercise until you have 90 or even 100 - I often find the later headlines are the best ones; the early ones are just a ‘warm-up’.
Now select the 3 or 4 headlines to test with your mailing campaign or advert.
© 2004 Carol A E Bentley
Extracted from the book ‘I Want to Buy Your Product. . . Have You Sent Me a Letter Yet’ (How to create powerful sales letters, advertisements, flyers, brochures, web pages and newsletters that persuade hundreds, or even thousands, of additional customers and clients to buy from you!) by Carol A E Bentley (Rated 5-star on Amazon.co.uk)
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