Here are some ideas to power up your headlines:
1. Start with a verb. When you lead off with a verb, you can transform a message from passive to active. A verb puts readers in the present tense and calls them to take a specific form of action. Go...find...get...take...try...: these are all verbs that add life to a headline.
A lot of times, a small adjustment is all it takes. For example, "Get a free widget when you test drive a Zoom-mobile" is better than, "Zoom-mobile will give you a free widget with a test drive." See the difference?
2. Start with "how to." This is a handy copywriting tool. These magic words can create a superhighway to a benefit headline. Part of the magic is in the fact that, once you've written the headline, you can drop the words "how to" and still have a benefit headline. "Do yard work faster" promises the same benefit as "How to do yard work faster."
3. Use the word "free." In the Zoom-mobile example, the verb "get" is connected to a free offer. This is a strong combination, because a timely giveaway will never go out of style. Consumers love to receive free things.
Free offers can be used to promote anything from restaurants (buy one pizza, get one free) to clothing (free alterations with new suit) to real estate (free relocation information).
4. Use the word "save." This is one of the strongest verbs in your toolbox. Once again, it's all about benefits. Show readers how they can save money, time, or some other valuable commodity, and you will have their attention.
5. Use specific dollar amounts and percentages. Specifics always sell better than generalities. "Take $2,000 off the purchase of your new car" is better than "Take a big discount on the purchase of your new car." And "Save 25% on new carpet" is more compelling than "Save a lot on new carpet."
Using specific numbers can help advertisers avoid meaningless phrases like "fantastic deals," "unbelievable bargains," and "best prices ever." As a result, their messages will have more clarity and impact.
6. Use short words. Two facts are worth mentioning: (1) People read publications –including newspapers – at a glance. (2) Short words are easier to read than long words.
People turn pages faster than advertisers would like. In fact, I have found that a typical reader spends about three seconds looking at a newspaper page. In that brief window of time, he or she makes decisions about what to read and what to skip.
The challenge – and the solution – is obvious. Use short words, and you'll give your headline stopping power. You'll make it easier for those hurried page turners to catch the essence of your message.
(c) Copyright 2011 by John Foust. All rights reserved.
E-mail John Foust for information about his training videos for ad departments: email@example.com