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© Ugur Akinci
The header or the leading sentence of a sales letter, a brochure, flier, or a classified ad is probably 80% of the message.
Headers are important even in news business. That’s why some newspapers have full-time “title editors.” Their job is to make sure people will read the headlines because that’s only what most people read anyways. And most of the time Direct Mail Power Headers work pretty well in the news business in terms of triggering the curiosity of the readers. A news article story that has a weak and dull header will never be able to hook the reader into reading the whole article.
I’ve known copywriters who write at least one or two hundred titles before they decide on one header for their direct mail letter. If you follow the following 4-U Method thought you will come up with Direct Mail Power Headers that work time after time.
A great header must satisfy the following conditions formulated by Michael Masterson and taught in many excellent copy writing courses offered by the American Writers and Artists Institute (AWAI):
1) ULTRA SPECIFIC
1) ULTRA SPECIFIC
For example: “Make money.”
That’s certainly useful. We all like to make money. But there is hardly anything particular about this message. It’s just too general to move us to action.
BETTER: “Make $2,567 a month.”
EVEN BETTER: “Make $2,567 in 30 days.” That’s much better. Don’t you feel already more interested in the message?
We’d like to make “$2,567 in 30 days” but we still do not know how.
Everybody is promising us something and God knows we’ve seen and heard it all.
So what’s the big deal about this offer? The header still won’t say much.
BETTER: “Make $2,567 in 30 days by making one phone call as our Local Home Reporter.”
Now it’s getting more interesting, correct? When was the last time you heard anyone working as a
“Local Home Reporter”? And just “making one phone call”? What’s that all about? Can it be true?
Our antennas go one notch higher.
EVEN BETTER: “Make $2,567 in 30 days by making one phone call as our exclusive Local Home Reporter in your neighborhood.”
Your header must also express either a direct or indirect utility for your prospective customers. “Learn ancient Mayan dialect in 90 days” is certainly very specific but how practical is that?
Direct utility would be a direct benefit for them (“get your ACM degree and make $20K more”).
Indirect utility involves the satisfaction of helping other people benefit from your services (“help low income kids earn their ACM degrees and watch them earn $20K more”).
Returning to our above example:
“Make $2,567 in 30 days by making one phone call as our exclusive Local Home Reporter in your neighborhood while increasing your home equity by 20% a year.”
Every sale message must have some kind of time-pressure and urgency built into it to close the sale. In our complex and busy world, a decision deferred is a decision never made.
“Make $2,567 in 30 days by making one phone call as our exclusive Local Home Reporter in your neighborhood. Apply now until October 1st for the only position still available in your area.”
In the body of your message or letter you will of course explain that this is a job that involves finding old dilapidated houses for an out-of-state new home developer. Your neighborhood appreciates so rapidly that the developer is willing to pay a premium price to purchase old homes, tear them down and replace them with deluxe units and pay you an average of $2,567 a month for your scouting services.
But the simple header “Make Money” will probably not be enough to compel anyone to read the rest of your message. Thus comes in the 4-U Method of writing Power Headers that work.
Write a great headline about:
The stock price of an athletic shoe company going up by 125% (hint: can you use a verb like “sprinting” within the context of stock market?)