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Beginners Guide: Write Headlines That Sell

April 6, 2015

Your headline is the first element of your postcard, poster, or brochure that people will read, so it’s important to make it count. There are hundreds of ways to write a headline, but not all are equally effective for every marketing campaign.

If you’re struggling to come up with a headline for your direct mail campaign or any other marketing material, don’t worry. Even the world’s best copywriters run into a bout of writer’s block every now and then, especially when it comes to headlines.

From thought-provoking questions to authoritative statements, effective headlines can take many forms. Learn four valuable techniques that you can use to write the perfect headline for your direct mail postcard, poster, brochure or flyer.


Tell people how to do something

Does your product help someone improve their life? From cleaning products to self improvement courses, any product that helps someone achieve something is perfect for a How-To headline.

Writing a How-To headline is simple. First, you need to identify the biggest benefit of your product. What can your product help someone achieve? Will they clean the house in record time? Will they lose weight and get into better shape?

Then, turn the benefit of your product into a How-To headline. If your product helps people lose weight, use a How-To headline like “How To Lose 10lbs Without Making Any Changes to Your Lifestyle.”

If your product helps people take care of their garden, use a headline like “How To Create and Care for the Perfect Garden Without Any Extra Work.” How-To headlines work great with results-focused, instructional copy.


Explain the value you have to offer

What is your product’s biggest benefit? What is it’s greatest value? In more formal terminology, what is it’s unique selling proposition? Benefit-focused headlines are simple and direct, but they work extremely well when done right.

A benefit or value headline clearly communicates your product’s or service’s biggest selling point. A direct mail campaign ultra-thin laptop would use a headline like, “The World’s Thinnest Laptop” to clearly state its value and unique selling point.

A marketing campaign for a piano designed to rarely, if ever, go out of tune could be built around a headline like “From January until December, Our Piano Always Stays In Tune.” Think of your product’s biggest benefit, then turn it into a headline.


Ask a thought-provoking question

Sometimes, it’s difficult to explain your product or service’s value using a How-To or benefit-focused headline. If you need to use a little more copy to explain the value of your product, draw people in by asking a thought-provoking question.

Question headlines are ideal for products and services that can’t be explained with a headline alone. By asking a question related to the product you’re selling, you draw in your target audience and keep them engaged with your postcard or flyer.

Let’s say you’ve created a workout routine that delivers excellent results in as little as 30 minutes a day. Explaining the benefits of the workout is too complicated for a headline, so you draw people in with a thought-provoking question:

       “Is 30 Minutes a Day All it Takes to Slim Down, Tone Up and Feel Better?”

When your product or service is complicated or difficult to explain in very little text, there’s no point trying to squeeze it into a small headline. Ask a question that makes people notice, then use your subheading and copy to market your product.


Keep it short, sweet and simple

The best headlines are short and simple, yet powerful. Try to make sure your headline is no longer than it needs to be, since every extra word reduces from the power of your message.

Here’s a good rule to keep in mind when writing headlines: Could you deliver the same message using fewer words? Keep your headline short, sweet, and simple to achieve the biggest impact whenever prospective customers read it.