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WRITING COMMONSENSE HEADLINES

Copywriting Tips – No.1

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WRITING COMMONSENSE HEADLINES

Patrick Quinn

Many well-meaning writers on the subject of copywriting are happy to tell you that the headline is the single most important element of any ad, brochure, website and so on. Which, of course, it is.

They also tell you that the headline must be so cleverly framed as to practically force the reader into the compass of the body copy. Which, again, it should

But it is right there that the commonsense comes to a stop. Because they then go on to offer you a formula of some kind along the lines of: ‘Ten Ways To Write Killer Headlines’, or Eight Sure-Fire Methods For Creating Copy Impact’

Some even go so far as to say something like: ‘If You Can Write A Headline Like This, You’ll Be A Cash Millionaire This Time next Week.’ The latter is usually accompanied by a sample headline that, take my word for it, would get most ad agency trainees fired on the spot.

Let’s clear the decks. There are no formulae, no quick tricks, no lazy ways to produce a good headline. A good, selling headline depends for its success on just one simple ingredient a statement of benefit. Meaning a benefit inherent in the product or service that the consumer will reap if he goes out and buys it.

Every product or service has a benefit. If it hasn’t, why is it being produced? Thus, the best headlines, those that move product, say to the reader: ‘Buy this product and get this benefit.’

Simple, isn’t it?

And on the subject of commonsense copy here’s a bit more:

Me, me, me.

A lot of website writers, not to mention a lot of brochure and corporate newsletter writers, seem compelled to talk about themselves. They talk about their business, when it was founded, why it was founded and who by. Not content with this, they tell us all about their employees one by one; about the size and location of their offices or plant; and about the lengths they go to in order to satisfy their customers.

A little of this sort of thing goes a long way, but a lot of it goes right over people’s heads. And they lose more customers than they gain with such naval-gazing.

The simple truth is that nobody gives a damn about other people’s achievements. All most of us are interested in are our own achievements. Good enough reason, then, when writing your next website or promotional material, to talk more about your potential customers and what you can do for them, than about yourself. Six-to-four, you’ll get a bigger response.

END

Patrick Quinn is a copywriter, with 40 years’ experience of the advertising business in London, Miami, Dublin and Edinburgh. Over the years, he has helped win for his clients just about every advertising award worth winning. His published books, include:

The Secrets of Successful Copywriting.

The Secrets of Successful Low Budget Advertising.

Word Power 1, 2 & 3.

© Markethill Publishing 2005.

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