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Writing Headlines

Creating Advertising Headlines That Get Noticed


Before you being writing headlines for advertisements, take a quick test. Flip through a magazine, newspaper or even visit a website and read a few stories.

How did you make your decision on which stories to select? It wasn't the fancy opening sentence or the little picture that went along with the article.

The headline and maybe even the subhead made you want to read or even ignore the story. The same rule applies for print advertising.

Consumers scan headlines before committing to reading the entire ad. If you haven't written a powerful headline, your print ad copy might as well say, "blah, blah, blah," because it's not going to be read. Writing your headline is one of the most important factors in writing your print ad.

An effective headline doesn't just pique your reader's curiosity. It hooks them. They are drawn into the ad, compelled to read more.

There are many approaches you can take to write a solid headline. Explore these various methods for every print ad you create:

Be Direct with an Offer or Guarantee
Headlines don't have to be complicated. If you have a special offer that will lure customers in, don't think you have to spend hours trying to create a witty, humorous headline to go along with your ad copy.

Sample headlines from print ads:

30 Free Digital Camera Prints from Snapfish
Print ad for: Snapfish

LifeStyle PartyTime Kitchen $159.99
Print ad for: Step 2

Take a 30-day test drive and decide for yourself.
Print ad for: Escort Radar

40% Off Cards
Print ad for: winkflash

Our Best Rates Guaranteed.
Print ad for: Hilton Hotels

Make a Statement
These are the popular-type of headlines you usually see in print ads running in national magazines. Sometimes they're creative and catchy. Sometimes they're just a couple of short words. Sometimes they're a sentence or two. Magazines are loaded with these headlines.

This is why a lot of people think you must write this type of headline in order for your ad to be a success. That isn't always the case, of course. Knowing your market, your products and what exactly it is you're trying to sell will help you determine if using a statement as your headline is right for your ad.

Sample headlines from print ads:

Mommy's new favorite mucus fighter!
Print ad for: Mucinex Cough

Be One in a Million, Not One of a Million
Print ad for: Pantene Pro-V

Pricey Ink Stinks
Print ad for: Kodak

Their point and shoots would miss and miss. Then the Nikon D40 came to town.
Print ad for: Nikon

Easier Mac.
Print ad for: Chef Boyardee Mac & Cheese

Stop. Rinse. Play.
Print ad for: Mr. Clean AutoDry Carwash

Rescue Your Child from Sore Throat Pain with Scooby-Doo!
Print ad for: Orajel Kids Sore Throat Relief Strips

Viruses can live on surfaces for days.
Print ad for: Lysol

The Gorilla Has Evolved. Now It Gets Stronger, Faster.
Print ad for: Gorilla Glue

Use News in Your Headline
If your ad is introducing a new product to the market or an improvement on one of your existing products, you can use that news in your headline. Introducing, Finally, Announcing, Now and New are popular choice words you'll find in these types of headlines.

Sample headlines from print ads:

Introducing Freschetta Pizzamore. For Take-Out Taste at Your Place.
Print ad for: Freschetta Pizzamore

In a Perfect World, Your Baby Would Always Be This Protected. New Good Start Natural Cultures
Print ad for: Nestle Formula

We've Always Helped You Rock. Now We Help You Roll.
Print ad for: XM NavTraffic

New Southwestern Style Veggie Cakes
Print ad for: MorningStar Farms

Introducing a World of Healthy Flavors!
Print ad for: Pilgrim's Pride EatWellStayHealthy

The Question (and Sometimes Answer) Headline
The question and answer format can easily be overdone in advertising. A question's wording can also run the risk that your potential customer can answer the question with a "no" and they'll skip reading your ad. Carefully choose your question so you don't lose your reader right from the start.

Sample headlines from print ads:

Need Curb Appeal? Go With a Pro!
Print ad for: Classic Gardens and Landscapes Inc.

Do your plans include having another baby in the next five years?
Print ad for: Mirena

How do you heal dry skin? Use a lotion that's actually attracted to it.
Print ad for: Curel Ultra Healing Intensive Lotion

Uncomfortable? Comfortable.
Print ad for: Dulcolax Stool Softener

Want to Know How to Make Kids Happy? Look Inside.
Print ad for: Kraft Singles

Note that not all question headlines have the answer in the headline and they don't have to be straightforward questions that rely on a "yes" or "no" answer. You can be creative with your questions and this can also help you avoid the question headline that allows your potential customers to easily answer "no" and move on to the next ad.

Sample headlines from print ads:

From Scratch? It'll Take 15 Minutes to Find Out if You're Out of Garlic.
Print ad for: Ore-Ida Roasted Potatoes

How do you redesign the most beloved small SUV? Very carefully.
Print ad for: Subaru Forester

Why use fake flavors and additives when you can use lemongrass and coconut?
Print ad for: Kashi

Are the Hairs on the Back of Your Neck Begging for Exercise?
Print ad for: Ford Flex

What Will You Keepsake?
Print ad for: Hallmark

Is it a vacuum cleaner that kills germs? Or a germ-killer that vacuums?
Print ad for: Halo Vacuum Cleaner

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