Two Kinds of Headlines -- Which Should YOU Be Using?
Zillions of headlines have been written over the years, but in my view they all fall into one of two categories: teaser headlines or benefit headlines.
Teaser headlines are meant to stop you in your tracks because of their cleverness. They don't really communicate anything important in themselves but are meant to intrigue you so that your curiosity draws you into the body copy.
Here are five teaser headlines from ads that appeared in a recent issue of Forbes.
- "We give you the confidence to dream"
- "How do you efficiently deliver feed to a farmer who knows all his animals by name? "
- "Big? "
- "The retirement sonata"
- "Some think breakfast"
Benefit headlines, on the other hand, DO mean something all by themselves. They do NOT depend on cleverness or the reader's curiosity but, instead, try to clearly communicate a solution to the reader's problem.
Here are five benefit headlines from ads that also appeared in the same Forbes issue.
- "More delivery options to and from China"
- "Our indispensable guide to building wealth in the stock market"
- "Life insurance prices drop to all-time lows"
- "Back pain? There IS an answer"
- "Humidifier and purifier. Two in one."
Faithful readers of this column will have guessed by now that I advocate using benefit headlines. And you'll have guessed right. But I must point out that some of the greatest print ads ever written used the teaser technique to enormous advantage.
For example, one of the old, classic Doyle Dane Bernbach ads for the introduction of the Volkswagen featured a simple photo of the car. It was accompanied by the one-word headline: "Lemon." To see how the body copy played off the header, check out this trail-blazing ad.
Yes. This ad is brilliant, but if you're not Bill Bernbach, I'd suggest you stick to benefit headlines that communicate instantly. Remember, a teaser headline is a bet. It's a wager that your headline is so compelling and interesting, it will get the reader into the copy.