David Ogilvy, the father of advertising, understood the importance of a great headline. He once said, “On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy.” With the shear number of ads we encounter throughout the day, our minds are wired to filter out the noise. Whether by tuning into a different radio station, changing the channel or flipping the page, we actively try to avoid the sale. Ogilvy believed that, “In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative, original thinker unless you can also sell what you create.” Copywriting is a lot like fishing; you have to hook ‘em before you can reel ‘em in.
Find Your Voice
Copywriters speak in a targeted vernacular. We adjust our messaging to fit a specific target audience because millennials just don’t respond to the same messaging as baby-boomers.
Keep it Simple
When writing ad copy, it’s perfectly fine to think outside the box. However, if your headline becomes so convoluted that it fails to effectively communicate your message, then you’ve failed. Never sacrifice clarity for cleverness.
In today’s age, we’re more connected than ever. When writing for traditional media, keywords serve as triggers to focus the readers’ thinking. In digital media, keywords are a great tool for search engine optimization (SEO) to help your readers find you online.
Inspire Your Readers
In many instances, a headline alone doesn’t sell. Great headlines will inspire your reader to seek more information. Often times, that information will be available immediately below in the body copy. If not, show them where to find it.
Personalize the Message
Don’t treat your reader like they’re just another face in the crowd. Speak to them, not at them. You want to make them feel like they’re important, not just a number.
The list of dos and don’ts for writing a great headline could go on and on. By establishing your voice, keeping it clear and concise, utilizing keywords, inspiring your readers and personalizing the message, you will have the best chance of getting your audience from pitch to purchase.