If you can get people to read your copy, you can get people to buy your products or services. However, to get people to read your copy, you must write strong headlines. However, more importantly, you must write money-making headlines.
As a mentor of mine once said, that in order to write a good headline, you must do four things:
select your prospects,
deliver a complete message, and
pull readers into the body copy.
There are many techniques for attracting attention. A few off the cuff ideas include appealing to self-interest, announcing news, offering valuable information, or including powerful key words such as “free.” For example, here’s a headline that appeals to self-interest: “Fed up with paying high taxes? Here’s how to pay fewer taxes with the new straightforward “Deduction Finder Software!”
Next, your headline must select your prospects. That means the headline should let people know to whom the message is directed. In the example above, the message is directed to people who are unhappy about their tax bill and want a solution: “Fed up with paying high taxes?” You can also use a “call” at the beginning of a headline, such as “Attention Doctors!” or “Good news for pet owners!”
Your headline should also deliver a complete message. You might think that a mysterious or incomplete headline would force people to read the copy, but that is generally not the case. If your headline is merely “Fed up with paying high taxes?”, all the reader knows is that your direct mail is about taxes. People are too busy to spend time figuring out what you’re selling. Get to the point and get to it quickly.
This leads us to the final point in our to-do list. Your headline must pull readers into the body copy. No one will buy anything based on a headline alone. And tests show that the more people read, the more likely they are to buy. So a headline’s ultimate job is to encourage people to keep reading.
Look again at the example we’ve been using: “Fed up with paying high taxes? Here’s how to pay fewer taxes with our new, straightforward Deduction Finder Software!” The words “Here’s how” tell readers that the copy will tell them how to reduce their taxes, so there’s a reason to keep reading. You can also make a promise, ask a question, or state an amazing fact to draw people into the copy.
Headlines are vital to the success of any advertising, but it’s especially important for direct mail. Good headlines are like a magnet that pulls your reader into the copy.
My mentor also had a saying about headlines: A strong headline is like money in the bank.