An Open Letter to Anyone Who Writes Headlines for a Living Howdy writer, Remember when I said that profitable advertising was a planned and purposeful neglect of everything except making the sale … and that you should treat copywriting like a salesman? Well, there is something else you should know: the difference between copywriting and face-to-face salesmanship is that the salesperson can’t be ignored … She demands attention. Your advertisement, however, can be ignored. This is why effective headlines are so important. See, an effective headline is like calling out in a crowded room, “Hey Demian, can I talk to you?” Your headline gets the attention of the right people. So you write a headline that recognizes those people. But there’s a problem. These days the trick is to write a headline that will blow up on the social web. A headline that will get people to pound the “Share” button … a headline to clog our Twitter feed with thousands of retweets.
We watch our website traffic rise like a rocket out Phone Number List of Cape Canaveral … and then we stroke our goatees and fan our long hair as we linger in the afterglow of the rapidly fleeting adulation of people who are mostly impossible subjects for what we have to offer. To make matters worse the people we really want may never have a clue our content is out there. Waiting for them. Your mom might be proud. Your boss won’t be. Legend has it that nobody reads advertisements. This is absurd, of course, coming from someone who’s seen hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on direct-response advertising … and the returns that pile in. Again and again I saw twenty to thirty percent of readers subscribe to a 12-part email newsletter … and then hundreds of readers spend three hundred dollars for a product sold in those email newsletters. So please don’t tell me people don’t read ads. They certainly don’t read them for fun (unless they are a copywriter). The caveat, however, is prospects will only read advertisements if they are interesting. A 1,000 word landing page on building an igloo will not get a glance from a surfer. Nor will a 50-word ad selling surf board wax get a glance from an Eskimo. We are a harried people, and we have too much to read to begin with. We won’t waste our time on content that doesn’t speak to us.
Just look at our coffee tables: they are loaded with print subscriptions that pile up month after month without a single glance. Look at our RSS readers: bulging with unread posts from last year. Look at our inboxes: clogged with email newsletters — email newsletters we signed up for — that end up in a folder called “Later.” Later never comes. Here’s the lesson so far: create advertisements that communicate WHAT it will be worth to your prospects if they set aside time to read your promotion. And do that with your headline. We are ruthless when it comes to who we listen to. Who we read. We want entertainment. Benefits …
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