Stop driving customers away with boring, weak offers.

Instead, use this short guide to come up with text that pulls your reader in.

The first few points will apply to all mediums — brochure, website, powerpoint presentation, newsletter, blog, sandwich board (and wherever else you are writing).

At the end I’ll get specific about web-related tactics.

Most of these tips can be used together, but for some you’ll have to pick your goal and focus in on it.

1. Grab Attention Right Away

A headline covers the “A” in the sales formula AIDA (attention – interest – desire – action).

Grab your prospect’s attention and fling them into your offer.

Unless you have massive brand recognition, the best way to NOT get attention is to start with a laundry list of features.

Instead, think of your prospect’s problem.

Then clearly state how you will solve it.

Remember: a good headline shouldn’t attract the largest amount of people. It should appeal to a targeted, qualified group.

Basic sales training talks about benefits.

Be relentless in stating the benefit your customers will receive when they use your service.

2. Use Numbers & Special Characters

Too often the need to stand out creates a visual arms-race.

Bigger letters. Brighter colors. Outlandish miracle claims.

You know you only get one first impression. And you know the majority of readers only make it through the headline.

Instead of being tacky or cartoonish, there is a simple visual tactic to make your headlines stand out in a crowd.

You can use numbers or other special characters like & # – !

Check it out:

Two and two make four
vs
2 & 2 make 4!

For those of you spending money on Google Adwords, this is a powerful tip.

3. The Most Important Word: You

When a client tells me what they do, naturally they are proud of their service and they back their skills.

But to write this out, verbatim, on their website… well, it can come out a bit tone-deaf:

We do this, we make that, we have, we are, we we we.

For an attractive headline, flip the script.

Make it about your prospect.

You can, you will, a something-something for you.

“You” and “your” are by far the most engaging words that exist. We all like to hear or talk about ourselves.

Compare “Home Security” to “Keep Your Family Safe”.

4. Keep The Loop Open

Curiosity fires the imagination; people like to know what happens next.

You can employ an open loop headline to get the prospect reading more.

You’ll see this most often with magazine and blog articles:

The Best Way To Clean Your Floor

Stop Making This Relationship Mistake

Getting your prospect to ask “why” (or “how”) in their head will have them reading more.

Using our example above: “An Affordable Way To Keep Your Family Safe”.

5. Have A Reliable Template

Templates or formulas are a quick go-to when you need to jog your mind.

When I first got into copywriting, I read every tip I could get my hands on. Based on tested responses, here is the winning template I found:

(it doesn’t apply to every situation, but at the very least it gets you thinking)

Result + Time + Objections

You can also modify it to Action + Time + Result.

Some examples…

“Get more business + right now + even if you have a small budget”

“Consult with me + for 1 hour + and I’ll improve your eCommerce site sales”

Send a charity Christmas ecard instantly

This comes from Nevile Medhora’s Kopywriting Kourse: http://kopywritingkourse.com/copywriting-headlines-that-sell/

Website Headings

Since we deal with small business websites every day, I wanted to highlight some specific things that we’ve known to work (or not) over the years.

The first is a no-no that comes up more often than you might imagine.

It’s the phrase “Welcome to our website” (and its little cousin “Thanks for visiting Company.com”).

I get it — you want to be welcoming. Prospects are so busy, you want to thank them for taking the time to read your offer.

But look at it from a different angle.

Would you pay for a billboard on Times Square and use your limited ad space to write “Hi — thanks for reading this billboard”?

Of course not.

So the best thing for a website headline is to get straight to the point (the benefits).

In terms of search engine optimization, Google places a lot of weight on the heading tags.

For that reason, I usually advise people to include a location in the heading.

Continuing the Home Security example, although “An Affordable Way To Keep Your Family Safe” is more engaging, it may be better placed as a slogan. Or as text alongside the main image.

For the heading, we’d use something like “Calgary Home Security”. This way, it hits on keywords within a certain area.

Email Subject Lines

For email marketing, it’s essential to make your message feel like a personal letter.

This goes a lot further than not being spammy.

It’s tied into an old Gary Halbert concept of “A Pile & B Pile” mail.

You see, every one of us divides our email (at least mentally) into two categories: “must read” and “meh, maybe I’ll get to this later”.

The “must reads” are almost always personal letters from people we know and like.

The “maybe laters”… well, you know what you do with those.

So you MUST make your email subject lines seem like personal messages. You can use the open loop tip from above to help.

But the easiest way to get in this mindset is to just look at your inbox. Check out how your friends address emails to you.

Pay attention to the casual, half sentences they use. To the punctuation. And to the capitalization.

I don’t take this as a hard and fast rule, but I have found that I get much better open rates when I use all lower case letters in my email subject lines.

You’d have to test that with your own clients, but it’s one good way to make an email feel personal and non-threatening.