Headlines

You’re flipping through a publication as you wait for your latte, when suddenly you decide to stop and read an ad. What made you stop? I’ll bet it was a headline.

 It is a scientifically proven fact that five times as many people read headlines as read the body copy of an ad. So with the headline, an advertiser has spent about 80% of their advertising dollar. It doesn’t take a genius to realize, then, that the headline is the most important part of any ad. 

Yet most small business advertising is wasted for lack of an effective headline or, worse yet, no headline at all. Don’t make this same mistake.
 
The headline is the first thing that your reader or prospect sees when they open your letter, browse a magazine, or flip your postcard. In that moment (about three seconds), your reader decides whether or not to read any further.
 
So first and foremost, any advertisement you produce must have a headline, and your headline must grab your reader's attention immediately. If you don't grab them by the throat and hold them right away, you never will.
 
Writing powerful headlines is not easy, but it can be done if you follow some simple guidelines:
 
1. Your headline should give the reader a reason to stop and read now instead of later. A carefully chosen word or two can create urgency.
 
2. Your headline should communicate something your readers considers valuable. They need to be able to justify the time spent reading your ad.
 
3. Your headline should scream how you might offer something that is unique, or at least interesting.
 
4. Your headline should point to something very specific for the reader – use facts and how to’s.
 
Using these points as a guide to create your headlines allows you to create headlines that hook your reader quickly, offer them a benefit they want, and give them a reason to read on.
 
Never use boring, conventional, or overused statements, and never use a headline to trick your reader into looking on.
 
Attention Getting Power Words for Your Headlines
 
Look at powerful headlines, and you will see that many contain one or more of the following words that sell:
 
Discover                Easy                       Free                        New
Proven                   Save                       Results                   Introducing
At Last                   Guarantee              Bargain                  Easy
Quick                      Sale                         Why                       How To
Just Arrived          Now                        Announcing
 
Here are some headlines that fall in the "Headline Hall of Fame" category for their design and their effectiveness over time. Again, some may seem corny or simple, but they are considered great headlines because they have worked over and over again.
 
                How Many of These Mistakes are Causing You to Work Harder?
 
                A Little Mistake That Cost a Farmer $3,000 a Year
 
                Why Some People Almost Always Make Money in the Stock Market
 
                How to Plan Your House to Suit Yourself
 
                How Banks Play Tricks With Interest Rates
 
                Burn Disease Out of Your Body Lying Flat on Your Back Using Nothing but the Palm of Your Hand
 
                What Food to Never, Ever Eat on an Airplane
  
Start off by writing some headlines that clearly communicate your promise, benefit, or USP. Then look for ways to make them even more powerful by adding a power word or two, and checking if they contain at least three of the guidelines provided above.
 
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John Jantsch is a veteran marketing coach, award-winning blogger, and author of Duct Tape Marketing: The World's Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide, published by Thomas Nelson, 2006.
 
He is the creator of the Duct Tape Marketing Small Business Marketing SystemTM