How to Write a Great Headline

How to Write a Great Headline

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  1. How to Write a Great Headline for Your Direct Mail Envelope or Landing Page

    In direct mail wisdom, the teaser copy, or headline, on the outer envelope is the single most important piece of writing.  It either gets the envelope opened – if it’s good – or it doesn’t, if it’s boring, run-of-the-mill, or non-existent.  And we all know how much business an unopened envelope pulls in – none!

    A headline has about 3 seconds to make an impact.  Do your headlines motivate your prospects to read on?  Or are readers turned off, indifferent or bored? 

    There is a way to break through that indifference.  It’s called powerful creative writing, and it must satisfy at least one of these ten rules: 

  2. 1. Offer something of perceived value – FREE 
  3. "Free” catches the eye.  It makes the reader pause, think, and hopefully decide to open the envelope.  “Free” is one of the most powerful words in advertising, along with “you.”  If you are selling a magazine subscription, the first issue FREE is a powerful draw to a trial subscription.  After that you have to hope your product will induce the prospect to pay for a year’s subscription.  But at least you’ve got your foot in the door.

  4. 2  State a piece of news, the more startling the better
  5.             Ex.: The president orders us to pay you back on the extra fees you may have paid on your mortgage.  Get the good news inside!   

    3.  Arouse Emotions

                 “They told me to place my baby in a state institution.”  This headline, quoting a mother of a disabled child, worked to garner record-breaking contributions to a charity.  

  6. 4.  Start a story that stops at an exciting point, and is continued inside
  7.               This narrative approach is very involving, and usually succeeds in doing what an envelope is supposed to do:  get it ripped open and the reader inside.  Example:  “So there I stood, on a dark, rainy highway, my car disabled and no phone, when suddenly …” Continued inside.

  8. 5.  Use urgency, such as a dated event or an invitation:
  10.              Don’t miss this important industry event on September 23! Your invitation is enclosed

  11. 6.  Present a quiz, with provocative questions, answers inside
  12.              The Harvard Medical School Health Letter used this approach for years.  With a 9×12, 2-color outer envelope, they illustrated a number of newsworthy questions which not all of their readers would know the answers to. This lively format was their control package, although the questions varied. 

    Ex.: Here is a list of diagnostic tests.  How often should you have them taken? 

  13. 7.  Promise your most important benefit right in the headline
  15.              Grow rich.  This was the headline for an investment subscription solicitation. 

  16. 8.  Demonstrate how to build something
  17.              Ex.:  Plans enclosed for building a backyard tool shed   

  18. 9.  Show how to fix something
  20.              Closely related to building something, fixing is another way to draw in do-it-yourselfersThey love building, fixing, free plans enclosed, etc.

  21. 10.  Stress exclusivity or limited time only offers
  22.  Only for owners of late model Cadillacs or This offers ends in 72 hours!

    For more information on direct mail advertising, stay tuned!

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