By Alan Graner
“On average 5 times as many people read heads as body copy. Unless your headline sells your product, you’ve wasted 90% of your money.”
–David Ogilvy, Ogilvy on Advertising
A powerful headline accomplishes one (or more) of the following. It:
- Appeals to the reader’s self interest.
- Offers news.
- Promises great benefits.
- Arouses curiosity.
- Offers something people want.
- Warns of great scarcity.
- Appeals strongly to basic emotions.
- Promises to save time, money, energy.
- Shows how to increase productivity, efficiency, profits.
- Offers advice for solving a problem.
- Finds the right appeal.
- Calms a fear.
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The essential word behind any headline
That word is “believability.” If your claim isn’t believable, then you’ve lost your reader. To ensure your headline is believable:
- Always tell the truth.
- Use specifics instead of generalities. Not “Most people…” but “86% of people polled….”
- Back up claims. “New Smartphone kicks ass in speed tests.”
- Make damn sure readers understand your headline. Unless you’re writing for Mensa, a headline such as “New Study Proves Desultory Reading Hebetates the Brain!” is a complete waste of money.
Entire books have been written about writing effective headlines, but what other advice would you offer?
Graner is Chief Creative Officer at Daly-Swartz Public Relations, an Orange County, CA business public relations and marketing content firm. For content that makes you stand out from the crowd, email Jeffrey Swartz at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or visit www.dsprel.com.