Ah… the joy of copywriting critiques.
I love ‘em and I hate ‘em.
I love ‘em because it’s great to be able to make a big difference in people’s marketing with just a few well chosen words. I hate ‘em because so many people ignore what I tell ‘em.
The ones who DO take my advice invariably make great bounds and improvements in their results. The ones who don’t, gripe and moan about the state of the economy or whatever.
Anyway, the thing I see the most in copywriting critiques is the same simple mistake: the headline. Most people use their business name or their own name as the headline.
Consider your ad or letter as a personal – like one you’d see in the newspaper where Mr Healthy, Wealthy, Wise and Attractive can’t find a girlfriend.
Bad as these often are they never start with the guy’s or gal’s name, do they?
You can understand why, but if one ever did you’d laugh and not necessarily because he was broadcasting his sad little identity to the world (and I’m not knocking personals ads per se. I met Sarah on line on a dating website, so there you go).
No, you’d laugh because you’d think to yourself, “why the hell would anyone be interested in your name?“. Unless you’re Brad Pitt or something, I guess.
Now, a newspaper ad or sales letter is the same
It’s basically a “personal” for your business. It is, isn’t it?
Instead of members of the opposite sex you want to attract customers or clients. Other than that, it’s just the same.
You need to be making clear whom you do want and whom you don’t. Imagine you saw a personals ad saying something like, “I’m not fussy… I just want someone, ANYONE… anything with a pulse will do, and if there’s no pulse as long as it’s warm it’s OK“.
Well… I hate to be the one to tell you this, but when you put bland non-specific ads up there for your business, implicitly inviting everyone and anyone to come along and do business with you, that’s exactly what you’re doing – revealing your desperation.
And it’s not attractive in the least.
So, here’s what your headline should do: get the attention of the people you want as customers and encourage them to read the first sentence of body copy.
And then the purpose of that sentence is to get them to read the second one… and so on… until they’re on what Joe Sugarman called “the slippery slide to the sale“.
Don’t be afraid to reject upfront the kind of people you don’t want replying to your ads
And, please, don’t try to be cute or clever in your headline.
Be bold, be specific and telegraph an immediate benefit to your intended audience.
You’ll find the narrower and more specific you make your headline the better the quality of the responses you’ll get and, often, you’ll get more of them.
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