When writing a piece of copy, whether it is an email newsletter or a direct response letter, the headline may often be just an afterthought. After all, the hard work, research, and structure of the offer- the “meat” of the piece- actually lies within the body of the copy itself. Why, then, is the headline such a critical part of your copy?
Headlines are important because they invite your customer or subscriber into the article or document by creating a sense of curiosity or anticipation regarding your subject matter. A boring headline does nothing to entice your reader!
Let’s compare your copy to a big event. You have put lots of time and effort into planning a seminar for your customers. You have spared no expense in arranging the best speaker on the subject. You’ve made sure the room is well decorated and has appropriate, comfortable furnishings. Your media presentation is of the highest quality and cutting-edge technology. Your announcements and invitations have gone out well ahead of time, and nothing has been left to chance.
Suppose that when your customers arrive at the address they have been given, however, many of them take one look at the building, just shake their heads and turn around. There is no welcome sign at the door. In fact, the parking lot is a mess, and the outside of the building has no indication that anything special is about to happen inside.
On the other hand, what if these same customers are greeted with a big, colorful banner welcoming them to the event? Perhaps a live person is even standing outside the door to greet them and usher them into the venue. There is a well-kept parking area and lovely landscaping that is swept and manicured. This scenario begins the encounter with a sense of pleasure and value, with the feeling that something of great importance is about to take place inside.
That is the power of a well-written, effective headline. It is, figuratively speaking, the front door to all your marketing copy. It is the key to emails that get opened and read instead of immediately deleted. It is the secret to social media posts that get the attention of your followers instead of getting lost in the feed. The headline can make or break a sales campaign. Why is this?
First, a great headline filters out readers who will not be interested in your product or service. An ultra-specific headline gives potential clients a clear idea of what to expect as they continue reading, and you will ensure that the ones who do so are the best qualified for your offer. The headline has delivered a complete message and provided useful information to your readers.
Secondly, a great headline will seek to create a sense of urgency in the readers without going to the dark side of ultra-sensationalism. If the headline screams, but the article or sales piece does not deliver, readers and customers quickly lose trust in those companies. Urgency sells, and headlines are critical in the equation.
Finally, a headline needs to be the beginning of a relationship with your prospect. It has made a unique and useful promise to a specific group of potential customers, and possibly even created a keen sense of urgency. As this customer reads on in your newsletter or advertising copy, trust is built as they see that promise being fulfilled, or that need being addressed.
That is the advantage that a professionally trained copywriter can bring to your advertising copy. Because the reality of it is, you have about 5 seconds to grab your reader’s attention and compel him to read further. Otherwise, your valuable copy will end up in the virtual (or literal) trash bin.
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