17 SureFire Ways To Grab Your Reader’s Attention
Fact: Five times more people read your headline than read your body copy. Knowing this, the professional copywriter puts more thought into developing great headlines than anything else – because it pays off. That’s why all 17 surefire ways to grab your reader’s attention are Headline Tips.
Before we commence with our list, I’d like to remember one thing from your basic marketing courses. “Headlines can consist of words, images, but usually both”.
I Cite a Common Problem and Offer a Solution
People most often search the web to find an answer. Often they come with a specific problem in mind and search for a solution. One of the top headline tips, therefore, is to pose a problem and offer the solution.
Example: “Got Acne? Get Clear-X!”
II Communicate A Benefit
Buyers are interested in their own best interests, not in yours. That's as it should be. Headlines that focus on Benefits do remarkably well when compared to those that do not.
Example: “You Won’t Believe How Soft, Cool, and Comfortable A Sheet Can Be.”
(To learn more about this and other Headline Tips, please see my article “Turning Features Into Benefits”.)
III Use “Interrupt Words" (aka Buzzwords)
Start your headline with words that have been proven effective over decades. No reason to re-invent the wheel…try “New, Now, Finally, Amazing, Suddenly, Award-Winning, Save, Sale, FREE” etc. Multiple Headline Tips in One!
Examples: “Save $100 on your next set of tires”
“New Discovery gives topical pain relief naturally”
“Finally, A Shampoo That Won’t Make Your Baby Cry”
(Interesting tid-bit: my uncle, Michael Balter, invented the “No More Tears” formula used in baby shampoos, back when I was just a baby. I’m told my parents used it on me. : )
IV Be Specific, Not General
Prospects are more apt to believe specific claims and precise numbers. Very few believe the general claptrap like: “50% better than X”, or “Best Customer Service In Town”, or “Lowest Prices Around”. This headline tip goes for your entire piece as well – sub-head, crossheads, and body copy.
Example: “Our Members Rate WLAM U 4.91/5 Stars”
V Create Curiosity
People are innately curious. They don’t want to leave unless they can satisfy their curiosity. If you can pique that curiosity in one or two short lines, you’ll notice an uptick in your clicks, conversions, and sales.
Example: “New Discovery Dramatically Reduces Concussions In Football”
VI Speak Directly and Personally to the Reader
Readers often like to know who’s behind the curtain, so they react favorably to statements coming directly from a person, rather than a company. This headline tip works even better for small businesses, coaches, consultants, and professionals.
Example: “I Believe I Can Help You Lower Your Golf Scores In Just One Lesson”
VII Name Your Target Persons or Group
Folks love to see and hear their names, affiliations, towns, schools, etc. By naming persons or groups, you grab the attention of your ideal customer.
Example: “High School Seniors, 50% Off Admission To SeaWorld This June”
VIII Ask A Question Your Prospects Can’t Ignore
Questions can be effective attention grabbers when they get the reader to pause and actually think for a few seconds.
Example: “Do Your Underage Kids Drink – Even A Little?”
IX Begin With “Because”
Tell readers exactly WHY you’re running the ad, or have a website, or are sending this email. Understanding your reason can make a person more apt to take action.
Example: “Because We’re Overstocked To The Max, Take 50% Off All Kids’ Shoes For August”
X Use A Testimonial As Your Headline
But please, have the testimonial come from a real person (first and last name) who should be in a position to know.
Example: “We cut our overhead 23% with RealTimes’s Practice Management System” Jane Doe, Office Manager, Doctor’s Office
XI Show Your Product In Use
What better way to get your readers’ interest than to “see” themselves using your product.
XII Draw a Comparison With Your Competitor
A direct factual comparison is a very effective headline tip…BUT…the facts must be true.
Example: “The Kia XYZ, has a bigger, more powerful engine than the Ford ABC, and 11% more passenger room, to boot.”
XIII Give or Offer Helpful Information
Think of your ideal customer. What information would they want to have that you can provide? Remember – the purpose of websites and advertisements is to educate the prospect and in turn, the prospect will usually remember YOU, when time comes to buy.
Example: “Get This Free Report On Leather Upholstery Quality and Cost…plus, as a Bonus, we’ll send you a dozen sample leather swatches so you’ll know as much as the furniture salesperson.”
XIV Tell a Story in Words and Pictures
I’m sure we all know the old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words”. It’s sure true in copywriting, website strategy, and advertising. Just make sure the picture is relevant to your product. Bill Bernbach, copywriting legend and Original Madman, said, “I have very often given the example of being able to attract people to an ad by standing a man on his head…. But that is not a good ad unless you‘re selling a product that keeps things from falling out of that man’s pockets.” Now that's a headline tip from the Master.
XV Begin With “How” or “How To”
These are very powerful words to the human mind. Again, people search for answers and “How To” searches are always at or near the top of the list. If you have a “How” or “How To”...lead with it. People are looking.
XVI Begin With “If”
Similar to asking a question, starting with “If” pinpoints your audience. If the “if” doesn’t pertain to them, they won’t continue. But why would you care? We all have ideal audiences in mind. If, for instance, I’m a dog groomer, who do I want reading my ad or going to my website? Right-o! Dog owners. So I don’t care if a non-dog owner doesn’t bother to read my piece.
Example: “If You Have Children Under 10…Read This Now"
XVII Before and After
Nothing succeeds like success. Given that, the before and after photos usually get high reader reaction. Why? Easy. The prospects see what their finished product will look like. Great for home repair and re-modelers, auto painters, landscapers, hair and nail salons, and many others.
Dig Deeper – The Best Headline Tip Of All
If you’re interested in learning a lot more, I invite you to visit Write Like A Madman University. Headline tips, body copy tips, and check lists galore. PLUS: To gain more insight, take the free Virtual Video Tour, and even sit-in on the first video session of my copywriting course, Write Like A Madman and Make Money Like Crazy. See you on campus.
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