“On average, five times as many people read the headlines as read the body copy. It follows that unless your headline sells your product, you have wasted 90 percent of your money.” -- David Ogilvy, "Ogilvy on Advertising"
Whether you're working on a brochure, blog post, case study or whatever the project, keep in mind that you only have a split second, a few words, to pique your readers' interest and make them hunger for more. Otherwise, no matter how persuasive your body copy might be, it won't be read.
So, how do you ensure that your headlines work? Use this checklist.
1. Is the headline congruent with the body copy?
Avoid fluff or hype that would bait-and-switch readers. Make sure the headline is compelling AND your body copy delivers the goods.
2. Does the headline speak to the needs, desires and "pain" of your audience?
Creativity for creativity's sake won't connect with your audience. Address specific points of relevance that capture your reader's attention, with language that is simple, direct and clear.
3. Does the headline appeal to both the mind and the heart?
Logic will get the reader to agree; emotion will compel the reader to act. Push both "buttons" simultaneously with your headline, and you'll motivate the right response.
4. What fat can you cut from the headline?
What words are not absolutely necessary to make your point? Remove them.
5. With these changes, do you need to adjust the body copy to ensure 100% congruity with the header?
This way, you can be confident that whatever the headline promises, the rest of your copy delivers -- to engage, influence, persuade or sell.
About the Author: Sean M. Lyden is CEO of Lyden Communications LLC (www.lydencommunications.com), a business communication consulting firm that advises companies on honing their message and their methods to more effectively influence their markets -- whether customers, partners, investors or employees. Practice areas include content strategy, sales strategy & coaching, and executive communication consulting. A feature writer for several automotive and trucking trade publications, Sean is also co-author of “How to Succeed and Make Money on Your First Rental House” (John Wiley & Sons) and contributor to "The Ultimate Small Business Marketing Guide” and “The Great Big Book of Business Lists,” both books published by Entrepreneur Press.
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