How to write headlines that tantalise customers

Did you notice the title for this newsletter? Of course you did and that is why you clicked to read this article. The headline is the most important part of any advert. It is often referred to as the advert for the advert.

The advertising legend David Ogilvy said, “On average, five times as many people read the headline than the body copy. It follows that, unless your headline sells your product, you’ve wasted 80% of your money.” 

Think about it. When you are skimming a newspaper, website or magazine, what’s the first thing you look at? The headline, of course! It’s the most important tool in print advertising, be it for a print article, an advertisement, a website, a sales letter, a billboard, or a press release. Headlines are the difference between success and failure in advertising. That is why writing an attention grabbing headline is essentially important in advertising.

A great headline needs to answer all of the following:

  • Who cares?
  • WIIFM – What’s in it for me?
  • Why are you bothering me?
  • So what?

I list 6 tips that will help you write more powerful headlines for your adverts:

1. Your headline should flag down readers who have a specific problem. For example, if you are selling cosmetics that help middle-age women look younger, then your headline must highlight that benefit. For example, “How women over 40 can look 10 years younger in 10 minutes with ABC Cosmetics”.

2. There are two words that work like magic in headlines – “How to”.  People are drawn to headlines that say “How to”. Why? People are curious and want to learn “how to” solve problems. If possible try to start your headline with the words “How to”.

3. Whenever possible, use the words “Free” and/or “New” in your headline. Both words are magnets that attract readers to read your advertisement.

4. Don’t use all capital letters. A mix of upper and lower case, like this sentence, is easier to read and looks better THAN ALL CAPS.

5. Headlines can be very effective when posed as a question people want an answer to. (“Mover and Shaker or Moaner and Groaner, which are you?”)

6. Put quotation marks around the headline. You will get 25% better results.

The headline is your first impression and maybe your only impression unless you get it right. So get it right!

John Lloyd is a business growth strategist, award-winning marketer, speaker, trainer, columnist and author of the book Smart Thinking for Crazy Times.     

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