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Marketing Tip of the Week
3/5/03
"Giant Zucchini Eats Michael Jackson"
(Use Arresting Headlines)

Today I saw a public bus with a big advertisement along the side.  The headline read, "Now is the Time..." and the rest of the letters were too small to read.  Something about AIDS testing, or funding for research, or awareness, or something. 

The point is, whoever designed the ad wasted the headline space with a cliché a propos of nothing.  Why in the world would the words "Now is the Time" make me stop thinking my own comfortable thoughts and pay attention to a different message?

Need other examples?  Check out your local yellow pages.  The ads there are just large yellow business cards.  The headline, typically, is the name of the business.  Whoopee, Archie and Edith's Flower Shop, think I'll call them! 

Looking for good headlines.  Next time you're in the supermarket checkout line, read the headlines of the tabloids.  They have the same stories about J. Lo and Ben, aliens and Elvis, sex and miracle vinegar diets every single week, yet they manage to get millions of people to subscribe, and millions more to sneak a peak at the news stand or checkout line.  How?  Great headlines.

It's not just a matter of being outrageous or full of hype.  Some of the best headlines arrest the attention of the reader by naming a particular worry or pain: "Is your child struggling in school?" "Has your IRA gone down in value by 30% or more in the past year?" "Are you sick of cold calling?"

Others promise a big benefit: "How to Win Friends and Influence People." "Secrets of Younger-Looking Skin."

Others go for the curiosity factor: "The 7 Costliest Mistakes of First-Time Homebuyers." "Is Your Dog Psychic?" "Why Headlice Prefer Girls, and What to Do About It."

Headlines aren't about shouting louder or being more obnoxious.  They're a respectful way to get the attention of the people whose attention you want, while letting everyone else filter out your message and get on with their day.

What's the headline on your next ad? What's the first sentence of your elevator pitch?  Are your headlines about you, or your customers?  Do they bog down in process, or do they promise benefit?

Let it shine!

Peace,
Howie


To find out how I can help you create arresting headlines, email me at howie@howieconnect.com.  Or mail me a giant zucchini with your name and phone number etched onto it.


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