Is This Headline So Compelling That It Forces You To Read The Rest Of The Article?

OK, I admit it, that was my attempt to be cute.

Do you want to create ads that really sell?

The one glaring mistake that I see over and over again is that the headlines don't make the reader want to read the rest of the ad.

Here is the main reason your ad fails. Nobody saw it. The headline didn't attract attention. As a reader skims over the paper, they are looking at headlines. This is usually done on auto-pilot. Your headline has to trigger a " laser like focus of attention" or the reader really won't see the ad.

Here is another reason that your ad fails...Nobody is reading it. And the reason nobody is reading the ad is that the headline doesn't make you want to read it.

The headline's purpose is to " Grab the reader by the face and make them pay attention" .

But the headline must do more... it must target the person you want to read the ad. Here's an example; Several years ago there was an advertiser that had, as the headline, the word " SEX" in big letters. It did get the reader's attention.

Right after the " headline" , the ad said " Now that I have your attention..." and went on to sell auto parts or something similar. The ad didn't work because it angered the reader.

The person who was attracted by the headline wasn't interested in auto parts, and the auto parts buyer wasn't pulled-in by the headline. A complete waste of advertising money.

It attracted the wrong reader. If it would have just said " AUTO PARTS" it would have worked better.

You want the headline to attract the exact person that would be a buyer of your product...and nobody else.

For example: Let's say you are advertising a new air purifier. You are going to run an ad in the newspaper.

Who would be prime prospects for your product?

Maybe allergy sufferers? People with " pets with allergies" ? (don't laugh. Many people are more concerned about the pet's allergies than their own..or their children's)

How about " For Families With Allergy Sufferers; And Nobody Else" ?

Doesn't the headline set the allergy sufferer apart? No who would read such a headline? Allergy sufferers.

By the way, the word " For" pulls the reader into the ad. It implies that the reader gets something.

Have you ever read a " Personals" ad? Go to any online dating site and you can see all kinds of ads. After you get over the novelty of a dating site, study what they say.

If you read " Wanted; Non-smoking, non-drinking, medical professional with no children. Between the ages of 46 and 49, must love boating and have a German Shepard. Must live less than 20 miles from downtown Chicago, Must be slim and between 6 ft. and 6 ft. 2 inches tall."

Now, the vast majority of people would skim past that ad and not give it a second thought. But what if the ad described you perfectly? Assuming you were single, you would find it hard to resist finding out more. This is called a " message to market match"

Almost every headline I saw at the Workshop tried to be cute. Plays on words, words that rhymed, attempts to be clever...these were the norm.

All clever headlines sell is how clever you are.

How about;

" Allergy sufferers; Finally! Someone Is Listening To You. Indoor Air So Pure, It Will Make Your Nose Tingle!"

If you have allergies, how could you not read that ad?

Remember; Get attention, target a market, be dramatic, and then they will read your ad.

Claude Whitacre is the author of the book The Unfair Advantage Small Business Advertising Manual. Claude speaks on small business advertising and retail marketing.

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