The same is true for marketing communications. Pieces need to look good. And they need to have a stand-out introduction.
Why do strong intro lines matter?
We’re a visual society. That's true. Videos are big on Facebook and Twitter. YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest are huge.
But words are still critical, even in this digital, visual age. An attention-grabbing subject line on your email gets folks to open it. Your blog gets more readers from a headline that draws them in. Search engines don’t look at pictures. They look for words.
The headline’s the hook that draws the viewer in. In the words of the great David Ogilvy (a real-life “Mad Man”)
“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”
Pictures are great for catching the eye, but it's words that make your point clear.
Guidelines for writing headlines
1. Know your prospect People are more likely to buy from folks they’re comfortable with, so the more you’re in touch with your prospects’ world, the better. The prospect’s needs should drive what you offer. Her environment needs to inform your cultural references. His language should be your language. Headlines need to grab attention. An understanding of the prospect makes it easier do that.
2. Consider several ideas There’s a myth that great marketing campaigns are born fully formed through some kind of creative magic. The truth is that great ideas come from lots of thought, study, and brainstorming. Many ideas are generated and may be researched before THE ONE is chosen.
If you’re tasked with headline-writing, jot down everything that comes to mind. Then sift ideas through the filters of prospect knowledge and your piece’s objectives.
3. Take your time Creativity takes time. Whenever possible jot down multiple headline ideas and then put them away for a while. Hours or days later you can hone them and maybe come up with something better.
4. Show your personality People like to know who they’re dealing with, so don’t be afraid of showing some personality. If you can do it in a way that rings true, consider using humor. Humor, done right, can grab attention and demonstrate that you really know the audience.
5. Keep the tone appropriate to what you’re writing Appropriateness of tone depends on the type of piece you’re writing. The subject line of a sales email can be promotional and fun, whereas a white paper’s headline should be straight-forward and factual.
Need help coming up with great intro lines? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org