Why Your Ads and Other Marketing Pieces Aren’t Being Read
The root of the problem is message clutter and the problem is worsening every day.
Marketing experts tells us that we have only three to five seconds to grab the attention of our customer or prospect and get her to read whatever it is we want her to read – or listen to whatever we’re saying to her.
This includes everything from a newspaper ad or billboard to a statement insert, direct mail piece, or email marketing notice sitting in the inbox. It also covers radio spots, TV ads, blogs, twitter messages, Craig’s List postings, door hangers, and online newsletters.
No matter which marketing channel you’re using, you have only a few, short seconds to catch the attention of your customer or prospect and pull her into your message. Failure to engage your customer or prospect means you’ve wasted your scarce marketing dollars.
When this happens, the blame falls squarely on you for either writing or approving a bad headline – a headline that fails to reach out and grab the attention of members of your target audience.
Your headline is the most important element in every marketing communication – regardless of the channel or format.
It’s that simple.
MARKETING'S HEADLINE CRISIS
We’re experiencing a headline crisis in marketing today. The problem is missing and ineffective headlines have become the rule, not the exception.
Bad headlines are pervasive.
It’s as if writing and accepting bad headlines has mutated into a virus that’s spreading with no known cure. And the problem continues to worsen. This disease has spread to every marketing channel and shows no signs of letting up.
It’s affecting almost every marketer from the huge pharmaceutical and tech companies to the auto companies and even the local credit union and community bank.
What’s really frustrating is there is an easy cure for this illness.
And here’s the ultimate irony – the absolute BEST headlines today are created by people who many consumers consider the two biggest purveyors of junk mail...
...sellers of vitamin supplements, alternative health cures, and related newsletter subscriptions.
...experts promising financial and investment advice via seminars and newsletter subscriptions.
What’s behind the great headlines on these direct mail pieces?
These direct response marketers hire the absolute best freelance copywriters to write their copy, including the all-important headlines like you see in the sidebar to the right. In fact, these copywriters are the highest-paid copywriters in America today.
These experts and their copywriters understand that a single headline can make or break an expensive direct mail campaign. These are your headline experts.
Unfortunately, some of the worst headlines can be found on bank and credit union newspaper ads as we’ll see below.
ELEVEN BAD EXAMPLES
Before you begin looking at this list, remember that members of the target audience for each of these ads devoted 5 seconds or less to each headline before making a decision to skip the ad or read it.
Now, spend as much time as you like studying each of these recent headlines from a bank or credit union newspaper ad and see if you can determine what product or service is being offered. You may want to write down your answers.
- Ready. Set. Buy!
- it’s a new day. make it great!
- Swipe. Round Up. Save
- Expanding Lives
- How to skip while driving.
- The Perfect Arrangement
- Advertisers love lines this good.
- Your toolbox just got a lot more powerful.
- Hello to Making Life Great.
- Motor on Over.
You might get one or two by guessing, but basically, all are ineffective headlines – headlines that should never have been recommended, let alone approved for use.
Okay, here are the answers:
- Auto loans
- Checking accounts
- Certificates of Deposit
- Debit card usage
- Equity line of credit
- Auto loans
- Home loans
- Business lines of credit
- Commercial real estate loans
- Equity line of credit
- Auto loans
Our goal in this issue of the ACTON Marketing newsletter is to provide you with some useful information about how to recognize and write effective headlines – headlines that grab your prospect’s attention and get her to read the rest of your ad or marketing copy.
But first, why are headlines so important?
WHY HEADLINES ARE CRUCIALLY IMPORTANT
Put simply – the headline stands between you and success or failure.
In one of the five books he wrote about advertising, veteran copywriter John Caples tells his readers, “If you can come up with a good headline, you are almost sure to have a good ad.”
It’s likely the greatest number of quotes about the importance of the headline was put in print by advertising great and author of two books on advertising, David Ogilvy. Ogilvy preached, “The headline is the most important element in most advertisements. It is the telegram which tells the reader whether to read the copy.”
Whether or not your ad, postcard, billboard, email, Craig’s List posting, direct mailer, or other marketing message gets noticed and read depends almost 100% on your opening line of copy – YOUR HEADLINE.
This was true many years ago when Caples and Ogilvy were at the top of their game and it’s still true today. In fact, your headline has to work even harder today to grab attention!
Because of the increasing proliferation of message clutter due to the rapid expansion of marketing channels available today.
Bottom line, marketing messages are coming at us at an unprecedented rate and the volume is only going to continue growing.
Therefore, if you want your marketing sales message to have any chance of being read, you must lead it with the absolute best possible headline – NO EXCEPTIONS.
And actually, the same is true for any marketing article or blog you might write and publish.
The good news is that you don’t have to hire a six-figure copywriter to come up with breakthrough headlines.
In this issue of the newsletter we are going to share three approaches that should help you improve your headline writing skills.
What, you’re not a copywriter and don’t need these skills? What about reviewing and approving headlines? If you’re at all involved in marketing, you need headline writing skills. It’s that simple.
Hey, wait a minute.
Are you a blogger? Do you sell items on eBay, Etsy, or Craig’s List? Have you ever written an article for a website?
Bottom line, every one of us must become more proficient at writing headlines if we want people to read what we’ve written.
Now for some headline writing secrets.
THREE SECRETS BEHIND HEADLINES THAT WORK
While every veteran freelance and agency copywriter past and present has his or her own secrets, rules, and checklists for writing and selecting the best headlines, we have chosen three unique recommendations to present in this issue of the newsletter.
- The little known three-part headline
- The IF...THEN formula
- The Four U’s
Because they are unique, and a bit unusual, we hope you’ll remember them and put them to work immediately after reading this issue.