Advertising Headlines Exposed

In my last post, I talked about how magazine headline writers are the best. There are many valuable lessons an online marketer can learn simply by reading the millions of magazine headlines in existence. Don’t think that you have to read them all. Read as much as you can and see if you can spot the following patterns.

Numbers Count. Many people hate math. Their minds grow numb at the sight of adding numbers longer than 3 digits. But for some psychological reason, people seem to trust information that is presented to them more when there are numbers attached. For example, the first ad said, “617 pieces that will change your life.” Notice that the ad didn’t just say, “Pieces that will change your life.” The ad was very specific. People also trust numbers that aren’t neat like 600. Rather, 617 implies that someone actually took the time to count the pieces so the information presented must be trustworthy.

Sentence Length Matters. The longest “sentence” out of the 8 ads that I showed you last time from the magazine’s front cover was 21 characters long. It read, “(and we should know!).” There is a reason for this. People scan for sound bites when they read. You have to create short sound bites that grabs your prospect’s attention as they are bombarded by information coming from the hundred other magazines on the rack.

Notice that Google took a page out of magazine advertising strategies when they created their online advertising platform, Adwords. Each Adwords ad is limited to 3 lines of text and 1 line for the display URL. In the 3 lines of text, you are limited to 25 characters for the first line which serves as your headline. You have 35 characters for the 2nd line and 35 characters for the third line. The reason behind this is simple…sound bites. As with magazine advertising, you are bombarded with information when you get the results back from doing a Google search. People will make a decision on what to click within seconds.

Bolding and CAPS. The ads that I showed from the magazine utilized three style elements: one is bolding, two is capitalization, and three is color. The goal of using bolding and caps is to avoid monotony for your reader. It’s also to point out an important element like a number, for example. For search engine PPC advertising, you will only have one style element to work with – CAPS. But this is not a hindrance because a lot can be done with CAPS. We’ll cover this in another article.

Instant and Easy. The truth is most people are lazy. We’ve been program to want instant and want it now. Nobody wants to exercise and eat less to lose weight. They want a weight loss pill. Nobody wants to buy the giant 65″ plasma TV three years from now when they’ve saved up enough money. They want to take the TV home today with the easy payment plan. And nobody wants to build up their look, they want, “Instant Glamour: The Only Makeup Item You’ll Need.” Only one makeup item? That’s hard to believe… I’ll take two.

These four advertising headline tricks should get you on your way to creating your own swipe file of the best magazine ads out there. After reading through a few of these ads, you will undoubtedly begin to see the patterns that are repeated over and over again. You’ll see the same patterns in sports magazines, kid magazines, women magazines, car magazines, and so on. The reason for this is they work. Plain, simple, and easy.


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