Millions of ads compete for your customers’ attention. Consumers are exposed to twice as many ads today as they were 15 years ago. Yet they only pay attention to 20 percent more.
You must work hard to get attention for YOUR ad.
A sales letter has just five seconds to get your reader’s attention. If she finds nothing of interest after five seconds, she’ll toss the letter in the trash.
In advertising, getting attention is the job of the headline. But headlines can do much more.
Four Tasks Your Headline Can Perform
- Get attention
- Select an audience
- Deliver a complete message
- Draw the reader into the body copy
Let’s take a look at each of these in more depth.
Headlines can get a prospect’s attention by appealing to her self-interest. Take this for instance:
For Deep-Clean, Oil-Free Skin, Noxzema Has the Solution
Another effective way to get attention is to provide news for your customer. These headline use words such as
- it’s here
- at last
- just arrived
New Workout Video Can Give You Six-Pack Abs Now!
Other attention-getting words include
- how to
- last chance
Free New Report on How To Eliminate Debt
Selecting an Audience
At times you’ll want to screen out readers who aren’t potential customers.
For instance, if you’re selling a $200,000 Lamborghini, you don’t want to waste time answering questions from people who can’t afford it.
A good headline for your ad could be,
If You’re Asking About it’s MPG, You Can’t Afford It.
If you’re offering a better, innovative job search seminar,
Looking for more satisfying AND profitable work?
If you’re offering Medicare Part D Plans,
To All People Over 65 Who Need Affordable Prescription Drug Coverage.
If you’re offering a free calling service over the internet,
Is your phone bill too high?
The headline can also target the right audience for your ad.
Delivering a Complete Message
Four out of five readers will read the headline, and skip the rest of the ad.
As such, it pays to make a complete statement in your headline. That way, your ad still sells to the 80 percent who read the headline only.
Here are headlines that give complete messages:
Acme Real Estate Can Help You Make Big Money in Real Estate Now!
Electricity Inc. CFL Bulbs Cut Energy Costs Up to 85%.
Uncle Pete’s Oatmeal Will Lower Cholesterol and Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease.
If you think most of your prospects won’t read the entire ad, include the brand name in the headline as well.
Draw The Reader Into The Body Copy
Most products – cars, computers, books, cell phones – can’t be sold with just a nice photo and a great headline. They also require that the reader be given information.
This information appears in the body copy. So for the ad to be effective, the headline must compel the reader into the body copy.
To do this, you can use humor or intrigue. You can also ask a question or make a provocative statement. You can even promise a reward or useful information.
If you’re offering a leadership seminar to business managers,
What Skills Do German Managers Have That American Managers Sometimes Lack?
Of course, American managers will want to read further to learn about the techniques the Germans are using to manage effectively.
A headline for home gym equipment can say,
The $75 Alternative to Costly Gym membership.
A real estate company can begin its ad with the headline,
If You’re Confused About Buying a Home, Here’s Help.
If you liked this post, you'll love getting my free business tips. In addition, you can get free updates via email.