TypewriterFrom The Urbach Letter February 2003

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Question MarkAre Headlines Important?

Reader's Question:  Does my ad or sales letter need a headline?

My Answer: Absolutely!

Here Are 7 Reasons Why Your Headline Is Super-Important:

  1. According to David Ogilvy (one of the greatest ad men ever), five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy of your advertisement. It may be the only chance you get to make a statement.
  2. If you don't stop readers with your headline, 80% of your ad dollars are wasted. The only purpose of a headline is to get people to read the first paragraph of your ad. The only purpose of the first paragraph is to get them to read the second paragraph, and so on. A headline is the engine that pulls this train.
  3. A headline is "an ad for your ad." It attracts and selects the kind of prospects and clients you want to have.
  4. A great headline is benefit-oriented. Creating one forces you to think about things from a client's perspective (i.e. what's in it for me?).
  5. Maxwell Sackheim, the inventor of the book-of-the-month-club and writer of one of the longest running ads of all time (its headline: "Do You Make These Mistakes in English?," ran 40+ years unchanged), had this to say: "The slickest writing, the finest paper, printing and artwork can't make a good idea out of a bad one or an attractive offer out of a poor one." If you've got something important to say, let your headline trumpet it to the world.
  6. Relatively few of your competitors use headlines (and your business name is NOT a headline!). Therefore, using one will instantly set you apart.
  7. Headlines aren't just for print ads. Every marketing communication piece will be improved by having one: sales letters (people don't care about your logo -- use a compelling headline instead), radio spots (use a "verbal headline" to fire your biggest gun first), even your business card (do you think a "conventional" business card does anything for you? put a big, bold, benefit-oriented headline on your card your name and contact information can be tiny by comparison.)

When I'm creating a new advertisement, I'll often spend more hours developing the headline than writing the rest of the ad copy. It's that important. I've often written several dozen different headlines for a single ad before selecting the strongest one to use. If you want to make your advertising dollars go much further than they do now, then give headlines the time and thought they deserve and then don't be afraid to run them big and bold. I promise you'll love the results.

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