Thursday, May 29, 2014

Creating Effective Printed Materials

Following the previous blog – we will now look at each of the 5 tips in a bit more detail and hope this will provide a bit of extra help and advice.

Tip 1: You only get a second to catch attention writing headlines for documents and printing.

I cannot stress too much the importance of the headline.  The objective of every headline is to grab someone’s attention and draw them in, so they take some form of action.  The question to always ask yourself is “Would this make me want to read on?”

In advertising, research shows that 8 out of 10 advertisements are never read beyond the headline.  So, only 2 out of 10 readers ever bother to look at the rest of your content.

This is usually because not enough work has been put into them.  Whether short or long – your headline should always be visible and powerful and grab attention.

Four of the best categories of “attention grabbers” are:-
1. Headlines that offer real benefit(s).
2. Headlines that give information.
3. Curiosity headlines.
4. Urgency headlines.

This principle works for all your communications from company brochures through to your internet marketing and social media posts.  

Imagine this as your retail business. Your headline is your sign and window display – it has to compel the reader to take some form of action – and ideally to come in and browse!  Once they start reading your copy and checking out what you have to offer then they are actually in your shop!

A lot of time, effort and research should go into writing your headline.  Study what some of leading companies in your sector are putting into their headlines and look at your competitors’ headlines or those in a similar type of business.  

Keep a note of all the good ones.  Use the “creative copying” technique by seeing what companies use in other industries and some of those with big marketing budgets – note them down so that you can refer to them for any ideas or inspiration in the future.

Below are just some of the examples of effective headlines that could possibly be adapted to your product or service with a bit of creativity and thought:

1. Examples of Benefit Headlines

After promising a benefit, be sure to tell them how they can experience this benefit themselves. This is known as “the give and get” approach.  Promise them something valuable.  Or give me something and I will give you something in return.   
Alternatively you can play upon their negative fears – reminding prospects what they are missing and how your product or service alleviates their concerns.  

Use action words.  What, Why, How and When are all good.  Verbs encourage readership and help guide the reader.  Words like Save, New, Free, Discover, Join etc – remember your prospects are all about what’s in it for them.

Try and use numbers and incorporate them into the headline.

10 Ways to Improve (XYZ)
No More (XYZ)
Give Me X Minutes & I’ll Give You X Tips
Don’t Buy Another (XYZ) until you Read This
What You Don’t Know About (XYZ) is Hurting Your (XYZ)
Discover How to Eliminate (XYZ)
Read this and I’ll Give You (XYZ)

2. Examples of Headlines that gives Information

People like to know new things – particularly if this has a relevance to their industry or local area.  You can simply state the news, ask a question or simply add “How To” to the headline.  If someone has a problem, they want to know exactly what to do to solve it.  Asking questions engages the reader and makes them feel more likely to take action, since they feel connected to the copy.  

We can now offer (XYZ) Discover How to (XYZ)
Discover How to (XYZ)
How to (XYZ) Better Than (XYZ)
Let Me Show You How To (XYZ)
Who wants (XYZ)?
If I Could Show You (XYZ), Would You (XYZ)?

3. Examples of Curiosity Headlines 

We all want to be “in the know” and if you create curiosity you will probably get the interest. You can make your headlines more interesting by adding an unexpected twist or analogy.  You can use social proof or influence by showing them people in similar circumstances took the same action before them. We all have a propensity to follow the crowd, so this is an effective method in building trust and guiding people to take action.

Last Month X People (XYZ).  Did You Miss It?
Join X Others.  Download This Report Now
There is One (Simple) Thing You Can Do Today to (XYZ)
The Inside Truth About (XYZ) – It’s Not What You Think!
The New (XYZ) Everyone is Talking About
Successful Companies Do (XYZ). Will You Too?

My personal favourite headlines typically involve a play on words.  One of the most effective headlines I created some years ago had a deliberate play on words in a big bold heading– it simply stated “Outstanding Truck Record” and caught the eye of many people who thought it was a spelling mistake.  The copy or content was just bullet points of key statistics outlining facts that illustrated an amazing year of growth for a trucking company.  In black and white and aimed at financial media, the advert picked up an award for simplicity and clarity of message.

4. Urgency Headlines

One of simplest methods to generate interest or response is to imply scarcity and/or urgency. These are great motivators to get people to act.  They don’t want to miss out! People are more often motivated by missing out on something than they are by the thought of gaining the same thing.  

Experience has shown that with any offer it is best to specify an expiry date.  This increases response for all types of offers – particularly with direct mail campaigns. Although they are also very effective in the post script (PS) part of the letter below the main body of the content as a final push to try and convince someone to take action.

They are fairly simple to write and should be used sparingly to have real value.  Some good examples include:-

Before You Spend Any More on (XYZ) You Need to Read This
You Have 24 Hours to Get (XYZ)
There Are X Left At X% Off
Offer Must End Today/Date

Finally, combining any or all of the headlines should increase their effectiveness even more.  

Lots of time, effort and research have gone into writing the best headlines over the years, for a reason.  Headlines and good marketing copy are crucial to your success.  

Don’t be afraid to sell when you write any sales literature or document.  Shout from the rooftops how great you are.  Just remember, you will always need to back up what you are claiming – it’s only hype if it’s not true.

Writing good copy carries the headline forward in a logical manner – and becomes “salesmanship” in print or explains the heading in more detail.  

Copy writing will be the next Blog subject and takes the process of creating superb documents or digital printing to the next level.

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