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Rule One :- The Headline
The headline should summarize the whole offer. It should grab the eye, and make you want to read the subheading.
The headline should intrigue and captivate the reader. It's sole aim is to make the reader continue on to read the body text. You should take great time and trouble over the headline.
Let's say we're selling a book on home security, yes, I know, boring and you might start with something like this:-
"CRIME FIGURES UP"
This is very bad, but typical of an amateur. People don't care about 'crime statistics'. That's boring, they only care about their own house or car being broken into. OK, how about this:-
IS YOUR HOME AT RISK?
A bit better, but not brilliant. It does personalize it and does play on peoples fear. It's still pretty weak though. What we need is a headline that will grab you by the throat and force you to read on. How about this:-
HOW TO BURGLE YOUR OWN HOUSE AND STEAL YOUR OWN CAR
Now that's what I call a 'killer' headline. You've just got to read on, haven't you?
Always think very carefully about your headline.
Make it extremely intriguing, interesting or exciting. If you're selling a 'straight' product, then use a slightly different approach, the headline should state what the product is, with a few adjectives in front. Say for a Tea Trolley, your headline would be:-
New, Italian, Fold-away TEA TROLLEY
There should also be a picture of the product. The picture and the headline simply act to grab the eye of anyone who is remotely interested in purchasing this type of product.
Rule Two:- The Subheading
The subheading should expand upon the story hinted in the main heading, and draw the reader inexorably into reading the body text.
Subheadings for straight products should outline the main features and benefits of the product. Again, boring, but this is what works,
A subheading for the Tea Trolley would be:-
"New from Italy, Lightweight, Fold-away Trolley is available in your choice of three colors."
As I say, boring, but this is what works, so don't try and get clever or 'artsy'.
Here's the subheading for the security book:-
"I've nicked hundreds of cars and done over fifty burglaries. Would you like to know what I've got in mind for YOUR place?"
Brilliant, or what??!! You've just got to read into the body text, haven't you?
Remember this is the MAIN function of the heading and subheading. Notice the quotes, it seems as though the guy was talking to YOU, the reader of the advert, but the quotes imply that it is just something that this burglar said, some time ago, to whoever it was he was speaking to.
Rule Three:- The Copy
Always overstate the product, but within the bounds of truth and reasonableness!
For some reason long copy, sell books. People will actually read an entire page of text if the story is strong enough. For straight products, the body of the text really just gives the feature and benefits, together with a slight allusion to an improvement in lifestyle.
A classic piece of rubbish for the security book would be:-
"We at ACME security have been leaders in the field of home security for over seventy years, winning the Queens award for industry on at least five occasions."
So what? Who cares? What's that got to do with ME?
Here's an important little technique that can be used to fascinate your readers. It's the 'reverse' technique. In this technique, you take what is considered an obvious and well know fact about your subject, and then state the exact opposite in your advert.
We all know that in order to keep burglars out, we have to lock doors. Right? I mean, that's obvious. OK we're going to take this obvious fact and simply state the exact opposite. Like this:-
Why leaving doors UNLOCKED can sometimes be better than locking them.
"How can this be?" you ask yourself.
Why fitting a car alarm can sometimes result in car thieves flocking to break into your car.
"What's that?!! Surely with an alarm fitted, they'll give your car a miss?" Well it depends. There are several reasons why sometimes (which is all I said) the opposite might be true. For example, if you have a car alarm then that means you have something worth stealing. Also car thieves are full of machismo and they like stealing difficult cars, they stay clear of the easy ones because there's not enough danger and excitement. Most car alarms can be bypassed. Get the idea?
To sum up, your headline must grab the reader's attention, it doesn't matter how good your offer is, if your ad doesn't get read, you've lost them before you get a fair shot.
Once you've got their attention, you've got to keep them interested. Your ad copy must intrigue and captivate them so they will read your entire offer....
About The Author
Neil Moran has over 7 years online marketing experience, discover how Neil drives quality targeted traffic to his site: http://www.forfreedom.ws/
Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard
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