Wow, is it really that time again? I cannot believe it has been a whole week since I imparted some more pearls of wisdom. You would think with all these pearls, gold dust ditties and nuggets, and little gems that I would be a very rich woman in an expansive, glass fronted office but alas I am typing this perched on a stool at my kitchen worktop with an overly helpful Siamese on my lap. (Any spelling errors are attributed to him!)

So, where was I? Ah yes, headlines. A headline is similar to your first impression when meeting someone new. This is your ten seconds to impress (gosh if it took ten seconds to read it would be more like a short paragraph than a headline but you catch my drift) so no shirt tails hanging out and shine those shoes! Roughly translated as make it sharp and attention grabbing. ‘Smart’ is always required when it comes to appearance but not always when used in the colloquial sense meaning clever and applied to headlines. So consider your brand, client, customer and product before you brainstorm.

Here is an example of smart used properly:

It is rare to find a steak this well done

(New Zealand food and drink magazine promoting local restaurants)

This is light hearted, like the Kiwis, and the terms ‘rare’ and ‘well done’ obviously relate to steak but in this sense they are subtly saying “our steaks are the best around”. Mmmmm steak…sorry, lost myself for a moment but hey it worked, now if only I was in New Zealand…

It is clever without you having to think too much, if your target audience is left confused or worse still, if they don’t understand, then they could perceive your product unfavorably. The positioning of this headline, in a food magazine in the hotel room pack, was perfect too as chances are you would be reading it because you were looking for somewhere to eat. It would probably not have worked so well if it was just in the local paper.

Remember, headlines are copy so therefore should be persuasive and take you on a journey. In the marketing trade this is simplified by an acronym, AIDA.

A – ATTENTION (get it and keep it)

I – INTEREST (create it and turn in into…)

D – DESIRE (…longing a.k.a. desire!)

A – ACTION (get your audience to act on their desire)

If you think ‘features and benefits’; what can my product do and how will it benefit the customer, and incorporate this then you are on the right track. Keep it closely linked to your goal i.e. buy now, renew etc. whilst making it memorable. If your reader finds it unique and/or funny they are more likely to read on and if they remember it they are more likely to tell their friends.

Depending on your choice of promotional material, i.e. catalogues and newsletters, headlines can be longer and have more messages as it is a safe assumption the reader will have set aside more time to absorb your information. Try making your headline benefit led and follow up with a sub-head full of features but above all, have fun – pick some words relative to your company and play with them.

And so, on to my final words…who wants to write the blog headline for next week?? The topic is ‘marketing offers the right way’ and you will get your name featured in next week’s blog. Tweet us (@carolinefw and @debutmarketing) or leave a comment!

Headlines vs different types of promotional material – 2:1 odds on headlines
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