Headline! Headline! Headline! – Its importance never ceases
February 25, 2008
“Four out of five people only read headlines. Nothing more”, said David Ogilvy, famous ad man and author of Confessions of an Advertising Man. And if people DO choose to read the rest of the ad, they make that decision based on the headline.
The importance of a good headline has never been lost on anyone who has had any experience in advertising or marketing – be it the copywriter, the editor, the ad filmmaker, the visualiser, the designer or even the marketing person.
For the uninitiated though, let me simply explain why a headline can make or break an advertisement, a sales letter, a brochure, a flyer, a hoarding…..anything that intends to sell.
Copywriters spend hours, even days, wracking their brains on a good catchy headline, an authoritative tagline, an attention-grabbing slogan/punchline that firmly establishes the product, the brand it signifies and the company it represents in the customer’s mind.
Think of some taglines that are immediately identifiable with the company – Philips – ‘Sense And Simplicity’, Accenture – ‘High Performance. Delivered’. Get the point?
The key quite obviously is how to convey, with authority, the benefits your products/services are offering to your customers.
Show the Benefits
1. ‘How to’ headlines.
Why do ‘how to’ headlines most often manage to grab attention? Because they promise a solution to your customers’ problems, ignite curiosity, strike an immediate chord.
The better the benefit, the more likely you’ll catch your customers’ attention.
The benefits in the above headlines are
- Getting a quick business loan
- Selling your house without the usual delays, and
- Getting a figure only filmstars and sportstars boast of.
All of these are powerful benefits.
2. A ‘Question’ headline
A questioning headline asks a question (obviously). If you want this headline type to work, it better ask a question that your customers want an answer to.
- Are you moving heaven and earth to get a good price for your car? (for a car-selling site)
- Is your marriage on the brink of failure? (for an ebook on feng shui)
- Is your boring 9-6 job proving to be a dead-end? (for a home based business)
Again, by stating in the question the immediate problem the customer may be facing, you throw into focus the benefit (read solution) your product/service is offering to the customer.
3. ‘Top Ten Reasons’ headline
Now you don’t always have to think up ten reasons every time. Any number works. But just as everyone loves ‘how to’ headlines, they also love a short list of reasons, spelling out the benefits.
- 3-steps to earning a six-figure income.
- Seven warning signs that your house may be making you sick.
- Ten easy ways to stop hair loss and grow your hair back
Again, the customers see the benefits immediately. Plus, they know exactly what they’re getting — so many reasons for something.
Remember, there are no short cuts to a good headline. You have to think, think and think. And before you put your thinking cap on, especially for headlines, make sure you know your product/service inside out. And then step back and take an objective look at it from the customer’s point of view.
Only then will you be able to narrow down on what should be your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) which you can position as a benefit that would immediately ring a bell with your reader to turn her into a buyer.
Antara Nanda Mondal
Web Content Consultant