I was inspired to write this article originally by the fact that most of the local free magazines which get shoved through my letterbox carry dozens and dozens of adverts. The trouble is, most of those ads don’t carry a headline. This is sacrilege; a crime against commerce.
Yes, I believe that whatever the promotional or communicational item, from press adverts to direct mail and from double page brochure spreads to web pages, a headline maximises the attention it grabs and the results it generates.
But an effective headline doesn’t mean working (or spending) harder but working (or spending) smarter. So here’s…
10 fast and simple ways to make a headline give you more punch for your pound
- Use emotion: people would rather buy what they want than what they need. Your most effective headline isn’t just read, it’s FELT.
- WIIFM: your prospect doesn’t give a toss about anything except ‘What’s in it for Me?’ So make sure your headline tells them quickly, simply and clearly.
- FFAB: to feed your prospect’s self interest convert Features and Facilities to Advantages and Benefits. Then turn them into headlines.
- Get personal: the personal pronouns ‘you’ and ‘yours’ are the most powerful words in the English language. Put them in every headline.
- Dull can deliver: though often sneered at as not creative, some of marketing’s most attention grabbing words and phrases are still new, now, at last, announcing, introducing and, of course, free.
- Education, education, education: sadly it’s reckoned the average reading age in the UK is 12 though one recent study said 9 (that’s including adults!). Make sure your headlines make sense to your target audience. Being smart isn’t big or clever.
- Super, smashing, great: superlatives like these are totally meaningless. Use cold, hard facts and figures in your headlines if you can.
- Power up your headlines: use dynamic verbs; ie don’t write ‘we’ll cut your costs’ but ‘we’ll slash your costs.’
- Problem/solution scenario: show your prospects you understand their situation and, most importantly, how your product or service gets them out of it.
- Accentuate the negative: you can use fear by reminding your prospects what they will miss out on by NOT buying your product or service. ie ‘Bill didn’t use Wonder Cream and he stayed short, fat and ugly.’
The fact is, the right headlines can still blow your competition out of the water, without blowing your budgets.