Let’s talk about the basics of effective advertising and writing effective advertising copy.
The first critically important key is the development of effective headlines. The headline is the most important component part of any type of advertising. It must work or nothing else matters.
Next in importance are the subheads that are used to break up long blocks of copy.
Next are photo captions. Photo captions are marvelous opportunities to make persuasive arguments. People are drawn to pictures and often read the captions beneath the pictures before reading just about anything else.
The same basic guidelines apply to headlines, subheads and photo captions.
First the headline should promise a positive benefit or ask a provocative question or both.
Second, it’s best if it’s concise, 12 to 15 words or less – however many copywriters use a short pre-headline and a longer secondary headline in addition to the main headline, and work with what’s called “headline real estate”, which may be as little as the top 1/4th to as much as the top ½ of the first page of a letter or brochure: typically no more than the top 1/3rd of a full-page ad.
Third, it should stand alone. That means it should make a complete statement by itself.
I’ll give you a great example to compare all of your headlines to one that comes from the National Enquirer. This is a headline of a small mail order ad that has been running continuously in the Enquirer since before I was alive, a great indication that it works.
Here’s the headline: “Corns Gone in Five Days or Money Back.”
This is a great headline. In just eight words it clearly promises a benefit, corns gone. It strengthens the promise benefit with a specific time frame, in five days. And it further strengthens the benefit with a guarantee.
Your headlines, subheads and photo captions need to be equally strong.
If your headline does its job it will grab the attention of the reader and motivate him to read more of your offer. The headline will bring the reader into the copy.
There are fourteen tips to make sure that your advertising copy works. I’ll give you the first seven of them in my next post.