The Unfair Advantage of a Great Headline
I was leafing through a Volvo XC90 (we own one of these amazing cars and are considering buying another some day) brochure recently when I came across a page with the headline “Proud Sponsor of the Unfair Advantage.” It immediately grabbed my attention. How bold. How proud. How competitively establishing. And, how true. I thought. The headline was accompanied with developing copy and the Volvo XC90 R series (their high-end sports model) which also helped. I was intrigued so I read on and planted myself with that page for about three minutes more than the rest of the brochure which I continued to ‘leaf’ through.
A great headline to a print ad, billboard, letter or other marketing tactic is highly revered and can be considered, as in the case of the Volvo brochure, an unfair advantage. According to CopyBlogger in “How to Write Magnetic Headlines,” 8 out of 10 people will read a headline yet only 2 out of 10 will read the rest. Therefore, a lot is riding on making sure your headline is nothing short of fantastic.
Anatomy of A Great Headline
Good headlines usually describe, sell, introduce, support and/or prove. Great headlines engage a target audience. They connect. And, most of the time, a great headline will solicit some response whether that’s immediate or long-lasting brand mindshare.
Rean John Uehara in “All you need to know about good headline creation that work,” suggests that a great headline instantly tells the reader that he/she should read it. A great headline is a sing that the content is too. “He who controls the headline controls the readers,” is the one single point he makes for all to remember when writing a headline.
Several key elements can go into the successful execution of a headline. A great headline must captivate the target audience’s interest. Whether it is a play on words, a surprising or humorous statement, a statistic or testimonial, great headlines quickly identify and solve a problem. Another characteristic of a great headline is the ability to develop and/or introduce a value proposition or unique competitive advantage. (sidenote to marketers: reminder to lead with features yet sell with benefits. In other words, be sure to answer the customer question “What’s in it for me?”). And, lastly, great headlines, like the Volvo one, engage. They connect with the audience in an intimate way soliciting some type of emotion or response.
Not all headlines are great. However, you know one when you read one. Take the following headline from an Advil print ad found on People magazines Cover IV this month.
“’I Take Advil because my kids deserve a mom without a headache.’
Sunshine—Mother of Three”
In this captivating statement from a pre-qualified customer (a mom of three), Advil quickly identifies a problem, establishes a value proposition and engages, or connects, with their target audience (presumably other mothers who predominantly read People magazine).
Examples of Great Headlines
Here are a few of my favorite headlines from Nick’s Traffic Tricks blog entitled “105 Great Headline Examples” (the others can be found here: http://nickstraffictricks.com/3277_105-great-headline-examples/)
- “How $20 Spent May Save You $2000”
- “Can You Spot These 10 Decorating Sins?”
- “Free Book Tells You 12 Secrets Of Better Lawn Care”
- Play Guitar in 7 Days or Money Back”
- How To Stop Worrying”
- How To Feel Fit At Any Age”
- Girls Want Quick Curls?”
Which ones connected with you? Which solicit an immediate response? Which identify a problem? See if you can spot a great headline or two in the few that follow, taken from Allure and Star magazines (estimated Full Page ad to be around $30,000). Conversely, see which ones are not-so-great:
- “Beautiful Knows Age Isn’t the Enemy.” Elizabeth Arden
- “Don’t Prosciutto the Messenger” Aloxxi Hair Color products
- “There are acne cleansing regimens that dermatologists recommend. And there’s the one they actually use.” Sephora/Clarisonic
- “Introducing Three Incredible Scents. You’ll wish you had a third nostril.” GUD
- “Radiant beauty blooms…while you sleep.” Korres overnight facial cream
- “I Love My New Butt.” Lichi Super Fruit
How to Write Your Own Great Headlines
Stuart Brown in “How to Write Great Headlines” (full article here: http://modernl.com/article/how-to-write-great-headlines) gives the following suggestions to write your own great headline:
- Mention key words and hot trends
- Use superlatives (i.e. Best ever, Easiest, Worst)
- Summarize it all at once
- Pose a question (or an opinion dressed as a question)
- Use lists to gain interest (i.e. Top 10 films of 2012)
So what are you waiting for. Go write your own great headline for your product, service or business. Your business may need it sooner than you think.
About the Author
Angelo Biasi is General Manager of SMART Marketing Solutions, LLC, a leading full-service integrated marketing company in Florida and New York since 2001. He has helped create and execute marketing plans and integrated marketing solutions for companies such as Playtex, Bic, Rogaine, Tauck, and over 35 colleges and universities, to name a few. Angelo has an MBA in Marketing from the University of Connecticut and teaches Marketing at New York University where he has for over six years. He has been quoted and/or featured in USA Today, Mobile Marketer magazine, Mobile Commerce Daily, Luxury Marketing magazine, BNET TV and Business Currents magazine, to name a few. For more information or to learn more, email him at abiasismartmarketingllccom (abiasismartmarketingllccom) , visit www.smartmarketingllc.com, call him at 239.963.9396 and follow him on Twitter @angbiasi.