How To Write Headlines That Get Read
By Michele Pariza
Headlines are the most important part of a print ad.
fact, David Ogilvy, famous ad man and author of "Confessions of an Advertising
Man", has said that four out of five people only read headlines. Nothing
And if people DO choose to read the rest of the ad, they make that
decision based on the headline.
That's a big job to put on the shoulders
for what amounts to a few words.
But before you start despairing over
your headline-writing skills, take heart. There are several "headline types"
that have proven to sell products and services over and over again. Below are
four of the most powerful and the easiest to implement.
1. How to
Everyone loves a 'how to' headline. How To Quit Smoking in 30 Days
Or Your Money
Back. How to Write a Novel in 30 Days. How to Lose Weight Fast.
these headlines work so well? Because they promise a solution to your customers'
problems. Why else do so many nonfiction books have how to in the title? If the
how to is addressing a need, you feel almost compelled to pick the book up and
look at it. Or, in the case of marketing materials or articles, this same
natural curiosity can entice you to keep reading to discover the
Keep in mind the better the benefit, the more likely you'll catch
your customers' attention. (The benefits in the above headlines are quitting
smoking, writing a novel in a month and losing weight. All of these can be
These headlines ask 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 spending too much on your car
insurance? Will your marriage fail? Will you know what to do if you're in an
Whatever you do, don't ask a question that only your business
cares about. Something like: Do you know what our company has been up to lately?
Again, focus on the benefit for the customer.
3. Top ten reasons
it doesn't have to be ten reasons or even the top reasons. But just as everyone
loves 'how to' headlines, they also love 'top ten reasons'.
that work. Five ways to fix a broken toilet. Seven warning signs that your house
may be making you sick.
Again, the customers see the benefits
immediately. Plus, they know exactly what they're getting -- so many reasons for
This headline uses your customers' words to
sell your products or services. This works because people see proof up front
that your product or service does what it's supposed to do. If used correctly
(meaning people believe it really is a testimonial from a real customer and not
something fabricated) then this can be a very effective strategy.
choose this headline, put it in quotes so it's obvious it's a testimonial. And
use the customers' words as much as you can to make it sound authentic. Whenever
possible, get permission from your customer to use his/her name. You may even
want to consider adding a photo as well.
(For more headline and
copywriting tips, see Robert Bly's book The Copywriter's
Creativity Exercises -- Write those headlines
stack of paper, find a couple of pens (I'm partial to gel colored pens) and
let's start brainstorming.
Start by making a list of all the benefits of
your product, service or business. (Benefits, not features. Benefits are what
your customers will get out of your product.)
Put that sheet of paper
aside. Now pick a headline type and write it on top of the paper. For instance,
Question headlines. Underneath start writing as many different types of question
headlines you can think of. They don't have to be pretty, they just have to be a
Come up with at least 50 of them. Don't let your brain or pen
stop until you do. No matter how painful. If you get stuck, go back and look at
your benefits list and pick a different benefit.
I practically guarantee
by the time you reach headline number 50, you'll have written at the very least
one pretty darn good headline. You might have even uncovered a brilliant
Try this same exercise with all the headline types and see what new
ad concepts you uncover.
Copyright © 2004-2007 Michele Pariza
About the Author:
|Michele PW (Michele
Pariza Wacek) owns Creative Concepts and Copywriting LLC, a copywriting,
marketing communications and creativity agency. She helps people become more
successful at attracting new clients, selling products and services and boosting
business. To find out how she can help you take your business to the next level,
visit her site at http://www.michelepw.com. |