David Ogilvy’s Guide To Writing Ads Explained Part 31

Element 31 is an old and trusted friend when it comes to headline creation. If you see a headline and you don’t have a clue what it’s about, there’s a good chance it failed to call out its audience.

What does that mean? If you’re a copywriter looking for clients, then a headline like this is going to work: “Get more copywriting clients today with our new app”. You’ve been called out.

If the headline said “Design your surfboard today with our new app”, you wouldn’t be called out, but you’d still know exactly who this headline was for.

On the other hand, if a headline read: “Get more bang for your buck with our new app” you wouldn’t have a clue what it was, who it was for, or what it did.

The bottom line for any headline is this: don’t waste time or money trying to be clever. Say what it is, who it’s for, and what it does (from a benefit point of view) and your headline will work.

Which begs the question, what does ‘work’ mean? The purpose of a headline is to get the reader to read the body copy. But if the headline is off (because of trickery, cleverness, or any of a hundred other ways to obfuscate what it’s really about), then the reader will see through it and stop reading.

This is also why when it comes to advertising online, no one should optimise for click through rates (only two rates really matter – 1: conversion rate, and 2: refund rate).



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