The importance of headlines

Everyone knows that headlines are important in marketing. For example, five times as many people read the headline as the body copy of an advertisement. A good headline should telegraph your message into the mind of the reader.  It will entice them to read the rest of your copy.

In his book ‘Confessions of an Advertising Man’, advertising guru David Ogilvy said:  ‘The headline is the most important element…it is the telegram which decides whether the reader goes on to read the copy.  I never write fewer than sixteen headlines.’  He would then show the headlines to colleagues.  A select few would be shown to the client.

Direct marketing expert Ted Nicholas commented:  “Based on hundreds of tests conducted, a good headline can be as much as 17 times more effective than a so-so headline.”

3 reasons to start your headlines and subheads with numbers
i. Numbers are eye catching; take a look at magazines – they often start their headlines with numbers.
ii. Including a number is specific, i.e. “7 ways to reduce debt.” The reader likes the idea of reading a list of helpful tips and ideas.
iii. The human brain likes numbers, particularly small, odd numbered digits such as 3, 7 and 9.

Describe results and benefits
Don’t write about features: talk about what your product or service will do for the reader.  Pack the resulting benefits into your headline.

Use questions in your headlines
Here are some questions for you:
i)    Do you live in London?
ii)   Is your favourite colour blue?
iii)  Do you drive?

As you read these questions, what did your brain do?  The chances are that it provided answers.  The fact that the human brain (usually) automatically answers questions is a powerful tool for the headline writer.

Start your headline with ‘How to”
‘How to’ holds out a promise of solving a problem and creating a better life. Experiment with starting headlines with these words.

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