How to Write Good Headline Copy

in Headline

The headline is the most important part of your promotional letter. In fact it has been suggested that 90% of the success or otherwise of your promotion is down to the headline.

So what is the purpose of the headline?

The main purpose is to touch the emotions of the reader. You have to elicit an immediate emotional response.

Why?

Because people mainly buy what they want not what they need! So how do we appeal to this want?
By creating a pleasant image or feeling in the mind of the reader so that the headline is not only read but felt.

The other point to bear in mind is to make the headline personal to your reader. They will feel much more receptive if the headline appears to be directed solely at them. The way to do this is to use the word "you" frequently whilst at the same time avoiding the words "me, I or we and us" as much as possible.

You must remember that we are all human and the most natural thing for each of us when considering any proposal is to ask ourselves the question "What's in it for me?" This is why we use the benefits of our product/service to appeal to our reader.

Please note that a benefit is not the same as a feature. A feature might be that a particular car has a certain size engine which is larger than its main rival. The benefit might be that it goes faster.
It is so easy to give people statistics whereas what they really want to know is what the benefit to them is in purchasing the product.

Another way to touch the emotions of your reader is to include a picture under the headline.
Obviously this should be a picture which relates to your subject and increases the emotion of your targeted audience.

An obvious example would be a lovely photo of a beach if you are promoting holidays. This would drive home the emotive message Whatever you do though do not use a picture which has no relevance to your subject matter. This will only cause your reader to become confused especially if it is of the humourous variety.

Humour is often used to promote things but the danger is that not everyone (thank goodness!) has the same sense of humour so it can badly backfire on you. So be warned!

Another fatal point is to use a headline designed to grab a person's attention just for the sake of getting that attention.

Some unprofessional marketers use a headline such as "Hey I'm giving away $1000" when they have no intention of doing any such thing. They then go on to say well that got your attention and then start to promote their product. In most cases such a tactic is a BIG turnoff for most people and is definitely non productive.

Sometimes even a very small change in your headline can have a considerable effect.For example many people are lazy and by suggesting that something is done for them rather than them having to do it themselves can bring in much more business.
If you say "put this information on your computer" the wording suggests that you have to do something whereas "puts this information on your computer" implies that the work is done for you. So you can see that one more letter could make all the difference to your results.

What is the recommended length for a headline?

Normally a maximum of twenty words should be used for the MAIN headline with up to forty words taken overall when combined with the sub-headings. That is to say if you use less words in the main heading you can use a few more in the subheadings provided that you keep to 40 words or less.

That is not set in concrete though trying to keep within those bounds will help.

I have used over 600 words just to convey the best way to go about producing an effective headline of twenty words or less so I hope you can see how much

I value a good headline.

To YOUR success
John Beaumont

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How to Write Good Headline Copy

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This article was published on 2010/11/21