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Testing Headlines


A correspondent to AdBriefing, my monthly newsletter, has posed a very sticky question. How, she asks, can you tell whether a headline you have written is a good one?or not? What she means by this, I imagine, is whether the headline will actually help to make sales, rather than just act as a passing amusement to its readers.

The latter precept, that a headline should actually try to sell something, is not as universally known as it might be. The vast proportion of headlines actually say nothing what'soever about the product and the benefits of owning it. And the reason for this is that good, selling headlines are not easy to write. So the majority of so-called copywriters take the easy route and produce something which they think is humorous or eye-catching and hope that this will do the job. That it won't and doesn't can be witnessed day in and day out in press ads, brochures and websites worldwide.

But I digress.

There is sadly no absolute test that a headline will do the job it is paid to do. If there were, we benighted copywriters would be earning ten times what we are earning now, on the grounds that our work would be foolproof. Every headline we conceived would be irresistible; and products would move off shelves like Spring snow off a dyke.

But there is a test - a very good and worthwhile test - that you can apply to any headline you create. I call it the 'So What?' test.

Allow me to give you an example of 'So What?' in action. If you produce a headline that says: Our Widget works twice as fast as any other Widget, and then ask yourself 'So What?', it immediately becomes clear that the line is bereft of a sales proposition. Because there is no obvious benefit to the potential customer.

On the other hand, if you write: Our Widget works twice as fast, so you do the job in half the time, then the 'So What?' has been answered. Your customer can cut his production time by 50%.

Likewise, were you to write: Our Widget is so small, it fits into the palm of your hand, you simply invoke 'So What?'. Which results in: Our Widget fits into the palm of your hand, so it goes wherever you go. In this case, the benefit is portability. You can use it anywhere.

Over the years, I have found the 'So What?' test to be invaluable. You might care to give it a try yourself.

And on the subject of headlines consider this.

When trying to write a headline many people tend to go off half-cocked. They consider the marketing brief, then bash down a headline or two to satisfy it. After that, they write the body copy.

Experience shows, however, that if you write the body copy first, the odds are that there will be the makings of a headline within it struggling to get out.

Body copy is, or should be, a carefully worked and logical encapsulation of the marketing brief. In other words, the whys, the wherefores and the benefits of owning the product or service. It makes sense, then, that if it is properly written, there is a very real chance of finding an embryo headline lurking within it.

Why not give it a whirl? You may be agreeably surprised.

About The Author

Patrick Quinn is an award winning copywriter with 40 years' experience of the advertising business in London, Miami, Dublin and Edinburgh.

He publishes a FREE monthly newsletter, AdBriefing. Subscriptions are available at: http://www.adbriefing.com

j.p@markethillpublishing.co.uk


Todays News by officejax free advertising and ad exchange solutionsMORE RESOURCES updated Tue. October / 17 / 2017

Five Keys To Achieving Positive Return On Advertising Spend With Facebook - Forbes

Forbes

Five Keys To Achieving Positive Return On Advertising Spend With Facebook
Forbes
Achieving positive return on advertising spend (ROAS) is a key objective for many Facebook and direct response advertisers. Sustaining positive ROAS with a large media spend is not an easy feat to accomplish, but it is possible with the right approach.


The Advertising Apocalypse Has Been Postponed - Barron's

Barron's

The Advertising Apocalypse Has Been Postponed
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Back in August, advertising stocks Omnicom Group (OMC) and Interpublic Group (IPG) got whacked after WPP Group (WPPGY), the world's largest ad agency, slashed its revenue target citing a slowdown in spending by consumer companies. At the time ...

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How LG Works Advertising Into Smart TVs - AdExchanger

How LG Works Advertising Into Smart TVs
AdExchanger
Thanks to its smart TVs, LG Electronics controls a channel that can bring the granularity of digital advertising into the world of connected TV. But LG is a consumer electronics manufacturer, not an advertising company, and in recent years it has ...


Google is looking to wedge into TV advertising by displacing ... - Business Insider

Business Insider

Google is looking to wedge into TV advertising by displacing ...
Business Insider
Google is looking to wedge into the TV advertising business by displacing Comcast's ad technology. The company has signed on the likes of CBS and ...

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Time Inc., Google to Launch New Innovative Native Video Advertising Tool - Mobile Marketing Watch

Mobile Marketing Watch

Time Inc., Google to Launch New Innovative Native Video Advertising Tool
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As demand for digital video content continues to grow, Time Inc. has announced the launch of Adapt Video, a proprietary video advertising unit created by the company in partnership with Google. We're told that Adapt leverages DoubleClick's native ...

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Pharmaceutical advertising can empower patients - Medical Xpress

Pharmaceutical advertising can empower patients
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Autumn is flu season and that means it is high season for pharmacies selling over-the-counter cold and flu remedies. Those who aren't reminded by their own running noses, are sure to be alerted to these types of pharmaceutical drugs by advertisements ...

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Missouri Honor Medalist Jack Smith contributed jingles to advertising - Columbia Missourian

Missouri Honor Medalist Jack Smith contributed jingles to advertising
Columbia Missourian
After retiring in 1994, Smith returned to the Missouri School of Journalism as a broadcast advertising instructor. Since his retirement, he's been inducted into the American Advertising Federation's Hall of Fame and granted dozens of honors, including ...


Press Release: Columbia Marketing Group: A New Advertising Agency for Mid-Missouri - Columbia Business Times

Press Release: Columbia Marketing Group: A New Advertising Agency for Mid-Missouri
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As a full-service advertising agency, CMG will offer clients a range of creative services (including branding, content marketing, custom publishing, display advertising, event planning, and custom photography) as well as media placement, strategic ...


Should NC double what the Lottery may spend on ads? - News & Observer (blog)

News & Observer (blog)

Should NC double what the Lottery may spend on ads?
News & Observer (blog)
Current law caps advertising spending at 1 percent of the lottery's annual revenue, a restriction favored by lottery critics who worry that heavy advertising could contribute to gambling addictions. A bill passed by the Joint Legislative Oversight ...


TV Networks Consider 'Thor' Ad-Measurement Plan With Eye Toward 2018 - Variety

Variety

TV Networks Consider 'Thor' Ad-Measurement Plan With Eye Toward 2018
Variety
This so-called focus on “attribution” and outcomes” – tracing exposure of a commercial to an actual sale – is at the heart of a project that has been code-named “Thor.” It is meant to help advertisers tie their commercials to something they have long ...
TV Networks Meet on Thor, New Effort to Prove Their Ads WorkAdAge.com

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