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Archive for December, 2013

Beyond the headline

Following on from the last few posts I thought it would be useful to share some more thoughts on effective copywriting.

On the basis we have a great headline, we know that the first sentence of our marketing piece will be read.  So, the next challenge is to craft the first sentence or paragraph and draw the reader in.

The key here is to write about something the reader is already thinking about. This will enable you to meet your client on their level and then move them into your world.

The chances are your prospects are not thinking about you, what you can do or how good you are. They are probably think about their problems.

In the example of me marketing Sackmans to start-up businesses, I think it is highly likely most start-ups are most concerned about where sales are going to come from. But, this is a superficial fear, what they are really worried about is losing their house and going bankrupt.

If a new business is not worried about sales they are unlikely to be motivated enough to pay me to help them with their strategy, planning and reporting.

I prefer to start by focussing on a problem because people are more motivated to avoid pain that experience pleasure.

So, after the headline I would start with…

Do you know the 7 hidden traps that kill 98% of start-up?

I’ll get straight to the point….

The harsh reality is that by starting a business you’ve walked into a new game where you risk losing everything; your savings, house and even being made bankrupt. With that in mind doesn’t it make sense to check that you are not walking into the same traps others have stumbled into?

It may surprise you but the number one reason why most start-up businesses fail has nothing to do with sales, marketing, cashflow or the economy; it’s all about the mindset of the business owner.

So, here is the number 1 mindset shift you need to make now to dramatically reduce your risk.

Now, imagine you are a start-up business worried about making sales and paying the bills. Would you read on?


More about headlines

Headlines are so important that I thought it useful to elaborate on the previous post.

If the headline doesn’t catch people’s attention they will not read your marketing so here are two rules for a killer headline:

Rule 1 – the headline must work as a standalone as a sentence

Rule 2 – the headline must make the reader want to read the next sentence

I came across one article that suggested the 50:50 rule. This is that 50% of your time should be spent writing the headline and 50% on the rest of the copy. I am not sure this is correct but it is worth bearing in mind. So is that fact that advertising guru David Ogilvy rewrote a headline for a car advert 104 times and master copywriter Gene Schwartz often spent an entire week on the first 50 words of a sales piece.

How much time and energy do you put into your headlines?

To help make sure your headlines are there best they can be here are 8 checks that will help you create powerful headlines:

Check 1 – Does the headline promise a reward for reading on

Check 2 – Be specific e.g. 7 reasons…

Check 3 – Is there is a well defined audience in the headline?

Check 4 – Avoid all negatives

Check 5 – Does the headline create an emotion?

Check 6 – Avoid headline that just provoke curiosity

Check 7 – Be clear and direct

Check 8 – Avoid cleaver or cute headlines

Keep in mind that if you are writing copy for your Website that it can be useful to include keywords in your headlines.

12 types of headline to improve your marketing

Sackmans, Accountants North London, are committed to writing posts that will help you grow sales, increase profits and boost cashflow.

Picking up on the last post I thought I would write about the use headlines of headlines in Direct Response Marketing.

The headline of an advert, Webpage or letter is the advert for the advert, Webpage or letter. By that I mean that the headline sells the rest of the copy. If people don’t read the advert, stay on the Website or throw the letter without reading it the headline isn’t good enough.

So, with that in mind it makes sense to put a lot of energy into creating the headline. And, it makes sense to test before you invest serious money.

From my research I think there are broadly twelve different types of headlines and they can be combined:

  • News
  • Guarantee
  • How to
  • Benefit
  • Question
  • Reason why
  • Testimonial
  • Command
  • Free
  • Advice
  • Warning
  • Quick solutions


In the previous post I used a question headline “Do you know the 7 traps that kill 98% of start-up in the first five years?” But, I could apply the other types of headline to the same topic:

News – Announcing the new report – 7 traps that kill 98% of start-up in the first five years

Guarantee – Survive the 7 hidden traps that kill 98% of start-ups or get a refund 100%

How to – How to survive the deadly traps that kill 98% of start-ups

Benefit – Sidestep the 7 hidden traps that kill 98% of start-ups

Reason why – 7 reasons why 98% of start-ups don’t survive the first five years

Testimonial – Learn how I overcame the 7 hidden traps that kill 98% of start-ups

Command – Stop risking going bust from the 7 hidden traps that kill 98% of start-ups

Free – Free report on 7 hidden traps for start-ups

Advice – Advice for start-up to help avoid the 7 traps that force 98% to go bust in five years

Warning – Alert…don’t start a business without knowing the 7 traps that force 98% of start-ups to go bust in five years

Quick solutions – Instant success by avoiding the 7 traps that kill 98% of start-up

I hope this post help you create and test headlines for your marketing.

The magic forumla

Competing with Accountants North London , I know Sackmans needs to offer a lot more value than our competitors.

As well as high levels of service, and proactive tax planning, this means being able to help businesses grow sales, improve profits and boost cashflow with practical business advice.

A key part of this is marketing and I have written before about how small businesses can’t use brand based promotion because they don’t have enough money to make it work. You need millions to even get started. So, instead I advise clients to use Direct Response Marketing.

A key element of Direct Response Marketing is good copy writing and there are many great books on this subject but I’d thought I’d share some thoughts.

The well established formula in marketing is AIDA which stands for Attention, Interest, Desire and Action. According to Wikipedia AIDA was first used in an article in 1921 but similar formulas were used in the 1800s.

This type of approach has worked for many years but I am not convinced this is the best approach for now.

For a start, I’m not sure starting with “Attention” is the right approach because it encourages you to think of a cleaver headline rather than a valuable one. I suggest starting with “Thought Provoking”.

An attention grabbing headline for Sackmans could be “Introducing A Unique Accountancy Approach For Start-Up (And Young) Businesses”. In the advert, Webpage or letter I could then go on to explain in detail what I do and how it will help start-up businesses.

A Thought Provoking headline could be  “Do you know the 7 traps that kill 98% of start-up in the first five years?”

Imagine you are a start-up business and got two mail shots with these headline. Which do you think people will be more like to carry on reading? Something that bangs on about my firm’s service or something which may educate you?

I recommend starting with “Thought Provoking” because it encourages you to write copy that is interesting.

I could write a free report called “The 7 start-up traps” and promote this rather than promoting Sackmans. When someone responds and reads the report I will be seen as a trusted advisor.

I can then engage with them and start to build a relationship based on trust which hopefully will develop into a commercial relationship.

So, my formula is TEEA which stands for Thought Provoking, Educational, Engaging and Action.