You can’t hook a shark with Corn niblets … and you can’t make a sale with the wrong headline.
How to write effective headlines that grab your prospects hook, line and sinker.
Though I’m not a big fisherman, I often think of direct marketing as a fishing expedition. While general advertisers are more apt to cast a wide net and see what, if anything, they come up with. Direct marketers are more about using the right bait to catch the desired fish. Any expert angler can tell you, the wrong bait will get you nothing. That’s why the pros, the ones who succeed more often than not, spend significant time studying the fish, what they like to eat, when they like to eat and anything else they can know in order get a hit.
In ANY direct marketing effort, the headline is your bait! It either sucks a prospect in and encourages them to continue reading, or fails to interest them and loses the sale! The headline is your first line of attack! It’s your workhorse! And where significant thought time should be devoted. Using the wrong headline is like using the wrong bait. If you haven’t done your homework, not studied the market, the product or service or the targeted audience, and not crafted a headline that is loaded with benefits, you will get nothing!
On the other hand, good headline writing will make a prospect do exactly what you desire. With practice, anyone with a mind for marketing can master writing effective, interest-catching headlines.
I like to start any promo with the headline. It sets the stage for the rest of the mail package. It condenses everything into a single platform from which to build. Here’s how I do it …
First, I study background materials to elicit the most intriguing, informative headlines. This includes any written materials, past or present controls, competitors info etc. Then, I take notes and mark good ideas so I don’t forget them. And as I read, I write down headline ideas that come to me.
As I go through this exercise, my aim is get to center of the issue. What does the product or service do that’s new and/or different? How does it help the user? Why should it be coveted? Next, I let it gel: I let it sit in my brain for a while.
That’s the idea germ process. Once I have 6 to 10 solid ideas, I’ll run it through this 12 rule gauntlet, what I believe are the elements and silver bullets of powerful, attention-getting headlines, to come up with a winner.
- Keep it SHORT! (6-10 words)
- Make it Punchy and Powerful with bold, vibrant words!
- Use specifics. (numbers, names, places, etc.) No bland generalities
- Doesn’t use big or hard-to-understand words.
- Never use questions. (You can’t control their answer, and they may stop reading.)
- Make the headine big and bold (where appropriate)
- Make it compelling and captivating.
- Capture, in 10 word or less, the ENTIRE ESSENCE of main benefit as well as all sub-benefits.
- Make it easy to digest and have INSTANT connectivity to the prospect.
- Avoid Humor, it mostly doesn’t work.
- Make it positive, that will nearly always outpull negative.
- Benefits … Benefits … Benefits! Answer the prospect’s question … “What’s in it for ME!?”
Next I judge my headline. Is it intriguing? Does it make me want to know more? Does it solve a problem? Does it offer a solution? Does it speak of the very core benefit of what is being offered? Does it follow the 12 points?
Try it! Go through the process and you’ll likely come up with a winner too.