Concentrate on the Headlines

March 12, 2007

The Mousetrap Series…by Matt Michel

The Mousetrap Series is about helping you sell more mousetraps, no matter what the mousetrap is that you sell. I don’t care how good your mousetrap is, few people will buy it if you do not market it well.

5. Most People Read The Headlines First, So Concentrate On The Headlines

Writing headlines is tough. I sweat through it. But they matter. Five times as many people will read your headline as will read your copy, so the headline is worth 80% of the effort.

The headline has got to grab people. It’s got to speak to them, be interesting to them. It shouldn’t be about you. This doesn’t mean that you can’t use your company name in the headline, only that the company name cannot be the headline. In fact, finding a way to work your company name into a headline can be an effective strategy for helping to build top-of-the-mind awareness. After all, five times as many people will read the headline as the copy.

One of the misperceptions many people seem to hold about headlines is the notion they must be short. Nonsense. Ad great David Ogilvy considered the following to be the best headline he ever wrote…

At 60 Miles Per Hour The Loudest Noise

In The New Rolls Royce Comes From

The Electric Clock

It was a long headline. Ogilvy managed to incorporate the company name into the headline. Yet, he also managed to focus on buyer benefits.

Headlines should speak to the buyer. They should focus on something that matters to a buyer tuned into WII-FM.

If you have news, proclaim it in the headline. People are always interested in new stuff.

Many people make the mistake of getting too cute in their headlines. They try to arouse curiosity. AT&T Wireless’ "M-Life" campaign is a good example. Millions were spent on obtuse ads and headlines talking about M-Life.

"So what? What does that mean to me?"

"Well, the ads didn’t say."

"Yawn. What’s for lunch?"

For goodness sake, don’t bore the prospect!

You should also avoid headlines that are overly gloomy or depressing. Don’t depress the prospect either.

Instead, you should imply a quick solution. Your product or service should be simple, easy, and painless.

Classic headline formulas include…

"Introducing…" or "Announcing…" or "New…" or "Now…" or "At Last…"

"Beginning <date>…" or "On <date>…"

"Only <price>..." or "Reduced By <amount>…"

Feature a special, such as, "Free Water Heater With a Furnace"

Promote an easy payment plan

Free offer or information

Tell a story in a headline

"How To…" or "How Do I…" or "How This…"

"Why…" or "Which…" or "Because…" or "If…"

"Advice To…"

Use testimonial style, such as, "I Saved…"

"Can Your Electrician Pass This Test…"

"Don’t Buy Until…"

Address to a person, such as, "For All Property Managers Sick Of…"

Source: Comanche Marketing. Reprinted by permission.
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Copyright © 2003 Matt Michel

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