After about a week’s hiatus (my apologies for being gone) we’re going to pick up our discussion on the most important elements of copywriting. To review where we left off, check out the blog on copy killers. Your headline needs to answer:
What’s in it for me (WIIFM)?
Why are you bothering me?
No small task by any means. Keeping those four bullets in mind, how long should your headline be? I’ve heard many answers, and some even put a number on it, like no more than 12 words.
Here’s my answer. If you can answer all four of those questions above in 12 words or less,then do it! If you can’t, and it needs to be longer, then do that, too ! So my headlines are as long as they need to be to get the job done. I’ve written headlines as short as 5 words, for example:
FREE Lunch on December 29th
And I’ve written headlines as long as 48 words when using our x-ray letter to sell computer systems to retailers:
“Why The Heck Is Travis Lee Sending You An X-Ray To Tell You How Happy Alice Balbi, the Manager of Mementos Gift Shop at the Clark Fork Hospital in Plains, MT is After Her Team Started Using The SmartRegister Point-of-Sale Computer System from American Retail Supply?
So where do you get these good headlines, as my mentor and friend Bill Glazer says, you ethically S & D (swipe and deploy) them of course! And one of the best ways to S & D headlines is to use proven fill-in-the-blank style headlines.
Here are a few:
How Often do You Hear Yourself saying: _________________________________
If you___________, then you’ll love our _______________________.
Who Else Wants _________________________ (I’ve probably seen this one S & D’ed more than any other)
______________ That other Retailers Don’t Want You to Know.
TIP: Creating great headlines. This is entirely contrary to what many “experts” say, but it is what most experts do!
Headlines are critically important and yes you can spend hours, days, even weeks if necessary, creating headlines and then testing one headline against another. You can create at least 15 to 25 and test the strongest ones. You can write as many as 200 to 250 before choosing two to four to test against each other to find the most profitable.
Or you can do what most copywriters do when they critique someone’s copy. They read the copy and pick out a biggest benefit and make it the headline. Then they look for one ortwo other big benefits and make them sub-headlines. Here’s an example:
How To Get a New Roof,
And a FREE 42” Flat Screen TV
Just in time for the Big Game”
I Really Don’t Want to Lay Off My Crew this Winter
I Only Have 10 TVs – Call Now To Be Sure You Get Yours!
We could spend months on headlines alone and still not even scratch the surface, but I think you’re getting the idea. Here’s a link to download 25 of my favorite fill-in-the-blank style headlines. Go check it out. Next we’ll hit on guarantees. Have a great week!