I received a direct mail headline question and thought I would talk about it here too.
You are relying on someone giving you their quality time. If your headline is weak, you are assuming they will care long enough to read your whole copy. They probably won’t.
Your instinct may be to use a headline like “The best service in our industry”. But this is more like a followup to a real headline that grabs their attention and then makes them read more. People process information in bits and you can either lead them along or you can confuse them at the start.
I would rather entice readership with something like “Your Customers Don’t Like You”. which makes everyone say to themselves “WHAT? Our customers love us! Who is saying this?” and then you drop into your secondary line “How do you know you have the best service in your industry?”.
At this point the person reading will at least ask themselves that secondary question and see if they can answer it. If they cannot – you can take them to the next line… leading them forward into your offer.
You have engaged them! Bravo! Step 1 complete. Remember not to think too much about step 4, 5 & 6 until you conquer step 1. Engage them and make them talk to your mailpiece and question it.
The main problem is that too many corporations wont allow you to use headlines like that. They’ll say it’s too unprofessional or too “small company”. They want to lead with giant brand statements like “Great service for over 50 years”.
Why should I give you 15 more seconds of my time, let alone some kind of response or business order?
Your headline must engage them.
Oh yeah, don’t forget to track and test multiple headlines to see what works best with your audience.