Monday, April 10, 2006

Energize your business with headlines

Every one of your marketing tools needs a headline. Headlines grab attention. Make your message easy to read, get your main selling points across, and lead your customer to a sale.

Generally, you should use a short three-word headline for classified ads. Use headlines frequently in your web site copy to help people learn your main message without having to spend a lot of time online.

Headlines range from those types that hit you right in the face to more subtle ones that do not seem like a headline at all. A hard-sell direct mail letter might have your headline in all capitals at the beginning.

Your headline gets attention when it appeals to the interests of the readers. Use your headline to point out a problem the reader has or something you know the reader feels strongly about. Headlines are not the best place to list the features of your product or service. Instead, headlines should showcase the benefit the feature provides and offers.

Studies have shown that headlines get even better results if they are enclosed in quotation marks. It is one good trick to use from time to time.

Over the years, copywriting pros have found several headline formulas that almost always work well.

Try some of these headlines.

1. Ask a Question. "Are you worried about filing your tax return this year?" A question headline gets the reader to answer in his mind subconciously. You automatically get the prospect involved in your message. Many people will read further into your letter, ad, or web site copy just to find out what answer or solution you provide.

2. Start your headline with "How to." "How to buy a car without getting a lemon." "How to" headlines work like magic. People love information that shows them how to do something valuable. It works for reports or letters that provide helpful information.

3. Provide a testimonial. The recommendation of a satisfied customer can go a long way in convincing others to buy from you. Always include the customer's full name and the city they live in. Many readers will not believe a testimonial where it is hard to figure out who the author is. "R.A.,LA" works better if it is written as “Richard Allen-Big Town, LA."

4. Issue a command. Some classic headlines command readers to "Aim High" and "Put a tiger in your tank." Turn your most important benefit into a commanding headline. "Stop rushing through life." "Make more money this month." "Feel better about yourself."

5. Important news makes a good headline. This particularly works well for big changes in your company or the introduction of hot new products. "Software Central introduces the new Instant Forms 2000--professional web site forms in 20 minutes."

6. Headline a deadline for a special offer. Most of us are busy and tend to put off taking action. If you don't get the prospect to act now, you may never get the sale. "Save Money Now" and "Get More If You Buy Now" offers increase the response rate.

7. FREE offers often pull the best response. "FREE report on boosting web site sales" is a powerful way to get lots of interested prospects. There is a myth that affluent or professional customers are turned off by free offers. Not true. Simply tailor your free offer to match the style of your customers or industry. You might subtly headline a "no-cost initial consultation."

Prospects are always in a hurry. They are bombarded with hundreds of ads, letters, postcards, and commercials every day. They tend to skip or tune out any marketing message that looks like it will take too much time or be too much trouble to figure out.

Headlines simplify the learning curve. A reader can scan down your page, quickly digest your headlines, and figure out what you're offering. Once the prospect knows you have something she is interested in, she will take more time to read your entire letter, ad, or web page.

Spice your headlines with action words like save, act, run, feel, and do. Cut out unnecessary words. Put subheadings in your copy to break up stretches of text. If someone else is writing copy for you, share some of these power headline ideas with them. In our hustle, bustle world, good headlines make your sales materials stand out, easy to use, and motivating.

About the author:

Peter Dobler is a 20+ year veteran in the IT business. He is an active Real Estate Investor and a successful Internet business owner. Collect more free software and bonus content for your own web site at

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