The Three Cs of Writing an Excellent all Purpose Headline

Since the headline is the first contact your readers have with your message, it must reach out to them. Promise them a benefit. Tell them how they will be better off if they read the rest of the ad. Use action verbs. Save ten dollars is a stronger heading than Savings of ten dollars because of the verb.

Headlines can be classified into the following five basic types; effective headlines frequently combine two or more of these kinds.

News Headlines

This form tells the reader something he or she did not know before. Using the word news does not make it a news headline. "Now - a copy machine that copies in color" is an example of this type headline.

Advice and Promise Headline

Here you are promising something if the reader follows the advice in your ad. "Switch to Amoco premium, no-lead gasoline, and your car will stop pinging."

Selective Headline

This headline limits the audience to a specific group. For example: "To all gray-haired men over forty." Caution! Be absolutely sure you do not eliminate potential customers with this type of headline.

Curiosity Headline

The intent here is to arouse the reader's interest enough to make him or her read the ad. The danger is that this headline often appears "cute" or "clever" and fails in its mission. An example: "Do you have trouble going to sleep at night?"

Command or Demand Headline

Watch out for this one as most people resist pushiness, especially in advertising. "Do it now!" or "Buy this today!" This headline generally can be improved by changing to less obtrusive wording such as: "Call for your key to success!"

One common misconception about headlines is that they must be short and easy to understand. This is not always true. Here is a headline that was used extensively in print ads by Ogilvy and Mather for one of their clients: At 60 miles an hour, the loudest noise in this Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock.

Illustrations

There are three primary reasons for using illustrations in an advertisement.

  • To attract attention to the ad.

  • To illustrate the item being featured.

  • To create a mood in the mind of the reader.

Everyone has heard, A picture is worth a thousand words; in advertising, the illustration frequently helps the reader visualize the benefits promised. You can almost feel the warmth of the tropical sun when you see the photos in January travel ads. Cost and practicality may dictate whether your ad uses photographs, artists' drawings or merely canned artwork. Any of these can make the ad more appealing to the reader's eye.

Copy

If you follow the three principles of good copy, your ads will be effective:

  • Good copy should be clear.

  • Good copy should be crisp.

  • Good copy should be concise.

Clear, crisp and concise . . . the three Cs of copy writing suggest that the words in your advertising message merely do a good job of communicating. Do not use big words when small words can make your meaning clear. Use colorful, descriptive terms. Use the number of words necessary to make your meaning clear and no more-but also no less! Selecting the right words is critical to the success of the ads. Recent research conducted at Yale University found that the following 12 words are the most personal and persuasive words in our language.

You Discovery Safety

Money Proven Results

Love Guarantee Save

New Easy Health

Notice the overused word free is not on the list.

REMEMBER THAT WHEN YOUR MESSAGE IS PRINTED IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS INSTEAD OF UPPER- AND LOWERCASE LETTERS, IT IS FAR MORE DIFFICULT FOR THE READER TO FOLLOW AND REMAIN INTERESTED. EVEN IN HEADLINES ALL CAPITAL LETTERS SHOULD BE AVOIDED.

About The Author

Steven Boaze (Chairman) is The Owner of The Corporate Headquarters Boaze.com Which houses and controls 5 websites including Web Development services. Steven is also the author of "Hidden Secrets To Business Marketing" and "12 Step Remedy To A Successful Ezine" along with numerous articles on Marketing and Advertising published by Boaze Publishing. http://www.boazepublishing.biz

Copyright © 1998-2003 Boaze.com

[email protected]

In The News:

Here Come the Prose Police  The Chronicle of Higher Education
The Heavy Unseen Labor of Writing Reference Letters  The Chronicle of Higher Education
Marilyn's writing debut  Royal Gazette
Scholars Talk Writing: TJ Stiles  The Chronicle of Higher Education
The struggles of writer's block and how to overcome it  University of Virginia The Cavalier Daily
Writers Series Hosts Author Aminatta Forna  St. Lawrence University Saints
Tinker, Tailor, Writer, Spy  The New York Times

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