What's In A Headline?
Updated: Jan 5
Writing is an art.
Having a good vocabulary helps but you don’t need to know the dictionary inside out, just have a good all round knowledge of words and to some extent, grammar. And the more you practice, the better you will get- usually, although rather like singing, for some people it just doesn’t work! Even if you cant write well, when you read something that flows naturally, is easy to read and easy to understand, you might not think ‘that was well written’ you just somehow enjoy reading it.
Writing sales copy is totally different.
As I discovered many years ago, although I could write, I thought I should research writing copy to help people sell before I offered my services to potential clients. And what I found was fascinating.
Solve their problems, ease their pain
This is the essential lesson to bear in mind when writing sales copy. Most people when writing their own copy, natural tend to write about what they do – their services and their products ,whereas what they should be doing is writing about what their services and products can do to solve problems, ease pain and make life easier. In other words, you must stress the BENEFITS, not the FEATURES.
There is a system . Its called A.I.D.A.
Its old, its tried, its tested and It works. Remember AIDA.
Attention – The headline
This is the key. It’s the key to writing a successful sales letter, a sales email, an advert, a leaflet, a web page…the headline. The headline determines whether people read on or ignore. You could have written brilliant copy but either not used a headline or not understood how important it was – and the project would have failed.
When I researched this, all those years ago, I discovered that the top copywriters in the world all agreed on thing – they spent up to 80% of their time making sure they had the best possible headline. Why? Because they knew that if the headline didn’t grab the attention of their clients’ target market, their target market wouldn’t read the rest of the message….the message that contained the vital information they wished to get across, the information that would help to sell the product they were writing about.
The headline should, in just few words, grab the attention of the particular group – the target market - let them think there is something here they must find out about.
The next sentence will expand on the headline with a little more information that will make the reader WANT to find out more
Here the writer can go into more detail with exactly what the product or service is and what it can do to solve problems and make life easier for the reader. Stress the benefits. Make it sound that the reader cant manage without this product or service. This is where a great testimonial from a well known, or maybe locally well known company in the same market as the target market really plays its part ’ If it works for them, it must work for me!’
The desire may now be there, but there is always doubt, so bring in a guarantee – something to reassure the potential buyer that even if he buys the product, he cant lose. An easy returns offer, money back, an extended the guarantee for as long as possible. Experience suggests that the longer the guarantee, the longer people leave things and the less likely they are to want their money back or make a claim.
Many excellent sales letters, adverts, websites fail to include their required ‘Action ‘ You must ask people for what you want – an appointment, a quote, a visit, send a sample ....
If it’s a letter, use the PS. A strong PS can summarise the offer, quickly reminding the reader what a great opportunity this is. Its thought to be the second most important part of sales letter.