They laughed when I said this LinkedIn advertising headline would work. But when they saw the results……..
If you recognise this headline you’re either old or a learned marketer. Or maybe you’re both.
It is an amended version of a classic advertising headline written by John Caples; a true advertising legend.
It was used in a newspaper advertisement to sell a distance piano lesson course over 80 years ago.
Obviously the success of the advertisement wasn’t down to the headline alone. Everything else – body copy, images, emotion, offer – all supported the headline and added to its success.
It has been applied 1000’s of times the world over to sell all sorts of things.
And I used it recently on a Linkedin pay per click advertising campaign for professional services. I tested its click through and conversion rates and against 7 other headlines.
And it won hands down.
It also worked as a headline on a posted direct marketing campaign I wrote to sell commercial legal services
In truth, the posted mailing only pulled a single response from the mailing of around 200. But the people on the mailing list had never heard of us and it was our first and only piece of communication with them.
More importantly, the one person who did respond became a client whose fees paid for the communication, with some extra for profit. And as the objective of the direct mail was sales, it was a success.
Do you know why I think it still works today as it did over 80 years ago?
It’s because, contrary to popular belief, people don’t really change.
You and I still have the same basic needs, wants and desires as we’ve always had.
And you and I are human beings, meaning we are emotional. People buy on emotion much more than they do logic, even in business-to-business.
This concept of us not changing much is explained in this quote. It’s by another grand old man of advertising, Bill Bernbach.
The next time you’re planning a marketing campaign, you might find his words useful.
“It took millions of years for man’s instincts to develop. It will take millions more for them to even vary. It is fashionable to talk about changing man. A communicator must be concerned with unchanging man, with his obsessive drive to survive, to be admired, to succeed, to love, to take care of his own.”
“A tried-and-tested marketing brief to supercharge your communications”
When you have to produce marketing work, what do you use for help or inspiration?
Do you just fly straight into developing your creative idea, shaping your message along the way?
If you do, you’re in good company. That’s what most people do. Heaven knows I’ve done it 1000’s of times.
I’m not sure about you, but the reason for me rushing straight to developing the creative is simple: time. Or, to be more accurate, a lack of it.
You are probably busier now than you have ever been.
You have a dizzying number of marketing channels to write for, but sadly, the same hours in your day.
But don’t despair, this free 7 point brief could save you
And it doesn’t matter if you’re writing for social media, email or posted direct marketing, press, radio, TV advertising or even events and experience marketing – it works for them all.
It was developed by Steve Harrison, one of the most successful advertising men of the last 30 years.
Steve and his agency, Harrison Troughton Wunderman, produced advertising for some of the biggest brands in the world, including Vodaphone, The AA, IBM and Microsoft.
If you’ve not heard of him, he’s one of the most successful creatives the UK has ever produced; winning the inaugural ‘Cannes Lion Direct Grand Prix’ award. On top of this, he has won three gold, five silver and two bronze Lions at the world’s biggest annual awards for professionals in creative communications.
I had the pleasure of watching Steve present recently at Drayton Bird’s European Academy of Direct and Interactive Marketing (EADIM) conference in London.
What a fantastic experience it was. And if you ever get the chance to see him – or any of Drayton’s events – I urge you to take it.
So, here is your free 7 point creative brief. I hope it helps you.
Use it. Maybe you’ll end up collecting a Lion or two of you own!
How to write your marketing brief
The simplest way of looking at a brief is like this: your client or prospect has a problem. You think you can solve it for them.
When you are writing your brief, keep this in mind as you answer the below questions. It helps maintain logic as you go; ensuring your argument builds irresistibly to your proposition.
1, Who are you talking to?
Describe your prospect. Who are they? What do they do? How does your service fit into and affect their lives? Do they currently use your service or do they use a competitors offering? If neither, how are they coping without you?
2, What do they think before receiving your message?
This is your opportunity to describe the problem, the need, the want or the desire. This single insight or truth shapes the whole brief. Put simply, you might start by saying “My job is fine but I keep having to……..”. Or “I’d get the promotion I need if only I could…………”. Or “I’m working late every night because …….”. Or “I’d like to eat healthy food but……..”.
3, What do we want them to think after they have received your message?
This is where you will describe how your service will provide a solution to your prospects problem, their need, want or desire. Put simply, you could say “Great, now I can start to ……….”. Or At last I Can…”. Or “Now I no longer have to work late because…..”.
4, What do we want them to do once they have received or read your message?
Go to a website? Return an enquiry form? Call a helpline? Order a sample?
5, What is a proposition?
What is the single-minded promise that will solve your prospects problem? It must, in just one sentence, encapsulate what your product or service offers your prospects. Do not try to write your proposition as a clever headline. Just write it as clearly and as simply as possible.
6, What is the support for your proposition?
Why should the prospect believe your promise? Only give reasons that are relevant and persuasive. Quote facts. Quote figures. Maybe highlight your awards. Quote any tests you have conducted that show your strength against your competitor. Explain in detail how your product or service gives the benefit you have described in your proposition.
7, Other benefits that will persuade your prospects to buy from you
Describe all the advantages your prospects get by using your product. Keep asking yourself “What’s in it for them?”
PS. If you have not already got it, buy and read Steve Harrison’s book ‘How to Do Better Creative Work’. It is without doubt one of the most useful books I have ever read on marketing communications.
If part of your job is writing to motivate people to buy – or to make people feel a certain way about your brand – you know it’s tough.
Obviously you can use a brilliant image that, in a heartbeat, shows your product and its benefits, whipping your prospects into a ‘wallet out’ buying frenzy. Or maybe your image creates the right positioning for your brand: from luxury to budget or something in between.
But even though your images can be incredibly powerful, it is the words you use that really create impact.
And one of the most useful tricks you can use to achieve this is using the words: you, your, and you’re more times than any other.
In fact on average, three times more.
You might be thinking that the rules of writing copy for social media are somehow different? Maybe because of the speed at which your audience read (or miss!) your messages in their news streams.
So here’s the content of a tweet you might find interesting. It is from Cindy Greenway, Editor in Chief of LawMarketing.com
It strengthens my opinion that, regardless of the marketing channels you use, your messages should always be about your reader.
And this gives some good insight into headline writing too.
You know that strong headlines that attract attention to your blog post, articles, ezines, emails (and more) are very important. How would you like to know which words you can use that will do exactly this – attract the attention of your readers? Imagine a stronger interest in your law firm blog posts, simply with a few tweaks to your headlines?
The team at Ripenn undertook extensive research and study to determine how to write a great headline and what works to use in headlines. This information was posted on the BufferApp.com Blog earlier this month.
3,016 headlines from 24 top content sites were examined – the most popular words found in their headlines are below.
What does this all mean? Here are some of my key takeaways:
- YOU and YOUR are two of the most common words. This means sense considering that the content you created is (or should!) created to help others. Make sure your content is not about you, the writer, but you, the person who needs legal information.
- When you use the word ‘this’ in a headline, the reader’s mind switches to a concrete view of whatever you are talking about. The power of ‘this’ is in its specificity.
- What, Which and When – These 3 words are all question based. Phrasing headlines in the form of a question does increase click-through rates. In fact, it more than doubles them, on average.
- Video – You know video is a must these days. Including the word ‘video’ into a headline (naturally), is a great tactic – it lets people know up front that your post contains video.
- ‘How To’ in headlines isn’t only popular, it’s effective! How to in a headline signifies a certain level of education on the subject matter.
- The average length of a viral headline is 62 characters. This will be of comfort to you if you struggle with keeping your headlines super short.
Take a look at the headlines you have written in the last couple of weeks. Can you revise some? What will you do differently moving forward to create more attention from your headlines?
So there you have it. Proof that the old tricks of copy writing work across all channels.
And remember, it really is all about you, you, you.
How do you try to improve your business and marketing success?
Obviously you know that the best way of learning is doing. But that can be a very expensive way of learning what works – and what doesn’t.
Do you ever study, attended seminars or use consultants?
I ask because I attended the Nottingham Post Business Summit the other week. It had four seasoned speakers including Josephine Fairley, co-founder of the Green & Blacks chocolate brand.
But the stand out speaker for me was a guy called Geoff Ramm; someone I’d never heard of before the event.
He gave thought provoking marketing advice on getting your brand to stand out from the crowd. And showed some great examples of how people had done this on a shoestring.
Some of his stories were downright hilarious.
He has written a book called OMG Observational Marketing Greats, which I think I might add to my reading list.
You might want to do the same.
Or speak with him directly to see how he could help you.