No, it’s not Jay Leno’s bit—it’s what you need to draw attention to your advertising and direct mail. Without a great headline, the rest of your copy isn’t worth nearly as much. And what good is great body copy if no one reads it?
The headline may be the only thing a prospect sees when flipping through a magazine, perusing a newspaper, surfing the web, sorting the mail, or watching TV. The purpose of the headline is to catch the viewer’s attention and direct him or her to the rest of the copy with a hint or idea of the benefits of the product or service. In the headline, you’ll want to state your strongest benefit or advantage. Words and phrases such as “How to,” “You can,” “You will,” “Fantastic,” “Easy,” “Fast,” and “Sale” are good attention-getters, but you must follow them with some informative words to hold the prospect’s attention.
You want your prospects to remember what’s in the body copy and the headline. The headline’s purpose is to get them to read the body copy where the real information is.
Appealing to a specific group can make an effective headline, such as “Attention Restaurant Owners,” “Homeowners Beware,” or “Parents Read This!” They will see something that hits home with them and feel the need to at least read more.
Being too clever or wordy or using rhymes can actually hurt more than help. Being clever is great for slogans and jingles, but slogans are not great headlines. Jokes and cartoons are not for headlines either, and they can actually do more harm than help. Some of the most entertaining, award-winning commercials failed to increase sales and were dropped after a short run. A small business doesn’t need awards; it needs sales and profits. Remember, the purpose of the headline is to get people to read on and find out what you really have to offer. It’s not intended to entertain
people. For that reason, slogans, jingles, jokes, and cartoons, if used at all, should be deeper in the body copy for readers to see after you have their attention.
Always write down several headlines before you use them and select the best one for your copy. Ask associates, friends, and customers what they think. Your headline should reach out and grab your prospects and make them want to know more. Don’t let prospects turn the page or leave the TV until you’ve told your entire story. Remember that the headline is the most important part of your advertising—without it, there is no advertising.