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Work on the Headline

Posted 20 May 2013

Pick up your local newspaper, or classified directory and flick through the ads.  What do you see ?  Chances are, after just a couple of pages, you will see … frankly … nothing.  A few logos, a lot of company names, a clipart picture or two, but nothing remarkable which makes you stop and want to read the whole ad.

Welcome to your prospect’s world.  As they read the local news or parish magazine, they are not consciously looking to buy anything.  They want to read the news, or find out what’s on at the cinema, or find their team’s results from the weekend.   However, stored away in their unconscious mind is the fact that they need to replace their washing machine, or get their garden ready for the spring, get that fence fixed or sort out their tax returns…

Advertising works by prompting the reader or viewer to action, mainly in a way when they least expect it.  Something jumps out at them from the page, the screen or the radio which brings that fence or that tax return springing to the front of their mind.  And that “something” is most often a Headline.

A headline which takes up 20-25% of the space of the ad.  A headline which speaks directly to them.  A headline which makes them ask themselves a question.  A headline which hints at a solution to their specific problem.  A headline which makes them want to read on.

Because only when your ad does this, does your prospect even notice that it’s there.

And yet most ads do not have a headline.  The biggest thing on the ad is the company name, and maybe a phone number.  That’s not going to stop anyone in their tracks, except perhaps the business owner and their proud parents, who like to see their name in the newspaper…

So the next time you are planning an ad, or an email blast, or a piece of direct mail, think first about how you’re going to get the prospects attention and make them want to act.  Think Headline.