Advertising: Headlines

Your advertisement’s headline is the most effective tool, the most important element that will determine how effective your campaign is. Never advertise without a headline.

“On the 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 per cent of your money.”
– David Ogilvy, On Advertising

Include your product’s name in the headline. If you don’t, 80 per cent of readers (who never get past the headline itself) will never know what product you are advertising.

The best headlines promise the reader something—nostalgia, quicker play, lots of action. What are you promising your customers? Communicate this promise, somehow, in your headline.

If you have news to tell, place it in the headline so that customers will read it, don’t bury in the body of the ad where it will go unnoticed. Headlines with news in them are 20% more likely to garner a response from customers. If you have a new product to release, this is prime news and you should place that information in your headline.

Certain words engender consistent responses from readers. Introducing tells your reader that your product is something new and entices them to read on so they can learn more about it. Now has a sense of immediacy about it, focusing the reader’s attention on your headline and drawing their attention to the message you are trying to convey. They appear regularly in advertising for a reason: they work.

Write plainly. Puns and double meanings may show how agile your intellect is, but they are counter-productive. Your advertisement has to compete with a host of other content for the reader’s attention. Broadcast what you want to say in language that is easy to understand.

The magic number of words in a headline is ten. Anything longer and the readers are unable to digest what you are trying to tell them.

If you want to read more about writing headlines, pick up a copy of Tested Advertising Methods by John Caples.


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