The Importance of a Headline

And Why it Should be Short

I sometimes get submissions for ads that do not have a headline or a call to action of any kind. Just text. Lots and lots of text. Even I am confused. What are they trying to say? What is the main goal or message?

To the seller it’s apparent, and they have a lot to say. However, we need to approach this from the viewpoint of the reader or buyer.

First, let’s not forget our 3 second rule. You have 3 seconds to grab the reader’s attention. That chunk of copy may say it all, but it will go unread if there is no main headline to pull the reader in. The same is true for articles, which is why many magazines these days utilize a different or larger type style at the beginning of articles, as well as a catchy headline.

The headline needs to get right to the point. Five words or less is great. Leave out the flowery stuff. A headline that doesn’t get right to the point has lost the reader after those initial 3 seconds.

“You Are Cordially Invited to Attend the Premier Screening of a Truly Revolutionary Documentary” will not attract as many readers as a short headline that cuts to the chase. “Revolutionary New Documentary” pulls the reader in. Then you have an opportunity to tell them more.

Every ad and every article needs a big hook. You are trying to catch a big fish. Don’t waste that opportunity. Make a strong point using as few words as possible.

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