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Seven Headlines to Energize Your Ads, Sales Letters, and Web Site Copy
Effective ways to get a prospect's attention, build interest, and get the sale.

by Dr. Kevin Nunley


Every one of your marketing tools needs a headline. Headlines get attention, make your message easy to read, get your main selling points across, and lead your customer to a sale. Use a short three word headline for classified ads. Use headlines frequently in your web site copy to help people get your main message without having to spend a lot of time online.

Headlines range from newspaper "hit-you-in-the face" to more subtle ones that don't seem like a headline at all. A hard-sell direct mail letter might have your headline in all capitals at the beginning:

I'VE GOT FIVE WAYS TO SAVE YOU MONEY--NOW!

Or your headline can be softer and less obvious, more like an important paragraph in bold at the beginning of your letter:

Here's something I know you will be interested in.
I've got five ways you can cut costs 20%--today!

Your headline gets attention when when it appeals to the reader's interests. Use your headline to point out a problem the reader has or something you know the reader feels strongly about. Headlines aren't a good place to list the features of your product or service. Instead, headline the benefit the feature provides.

"Webbuster gets your site listed high on search engines.
Nothing drives a flood of eager customers to your site faster."

Studies show headlines get even better results if they're enclosed in quotation marks like the example above. It's a good trick to use from time to time.

Seven Surefire Headlines

Over the years, copywriting pros have found several headline formulas that almost always work well. Try these headlines, putting your product, service, or benefit in place of mine.

1. Ask a Question. "Are you worried about filing your tax return this year?" A question headline gets the reader to answer in their mind. You automatically get the prospect involved in your message. Many people will read further into your letter, ad, or web site copy just to find out what answer or solution you provide.

2. Start your headline with "How to." "How to buy a car without getting a lemon." How to headlines work like magic. Almost all my articles start with "how to." People love information that shows them how to do something valuable. It works for reports or letters that provide helpful information.

3. Provide a testimonial. The recommendation of a satisfied customer can go a long way in convincing others to buy from you. "This product really works! I'm happier and less stressed. Marina Monson-Central City." Always include the customer's full name and the city they live in. Many readers won't believe a testimonial where it's hard to figure out who the author is. "R.A.,LA" doesn't work nearly as well as "Richard Allen-Big Town, LA."

4. Issue a command. Some classic headlines command readers to "Aim High" and "Put a tiger in your tank." Turn your most important benefit into a commanding headline. "Stop rushing through life." "Make more money this month." "Feel better about yourself."

5. Important news makes a good headline. This particularly works well for big changes in your company or the introduction of hot new products. "Richard Benson is taking the helm as our new CEO with a powerful vision for the future." "Software Central introduces the new Instant Forms 2000--professional web site forms in 20 minutes."

6. Headline a deadline for a special offer. Most of us are busy and tend to put off taking action. If you don't get the prospect to act now, you may never get the sale. "Save Money Now" and "Get More If You Buy Now" offers increase response.

7. FREE offers often pull the best response. "FREE report on boosting web site sales" is a powerful way to get lots of interested prospects. There is a myth that affluent or professional customers are turned off by free offers. Not true. Simply tailor your free offer to match the style of your customers or industry. You might subtly headline a "no-cost initial consultation" or "a bonus Widget 2000 in each package."

Prospects are in a hurry. They are bombarded with hundreds of ads, letters, postcards, and commercials every day. They tend to skip or tune out any marketing message that looks like it will take too much time or be too much trouble to figure out. Headlines simplify the learning curve. A reader can scan down your page, quickly digest your headlines, and figure out what you're offering. Once the prospect knows you have something she is interesting in, she will take more time to read your entire letter, ad, or web page.

Spice your headlines with action words like save, act, run, feel, and do. Cut out unnecessary words. Put subheadings in your copy to break up stretches of text. If someone else is writing copy for you, share some of these power headline ideas with them. In our hustle, bustle world, good headlines make your sales materials stand out, easy to use, and motivating.

Kevin Nunley provides marketing advice and copy writing for businesses and organizations. Read all his money-saving marketing tips at http://DrNunley.com. Email him at kn@drnunley.com.



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