Quick Copywriting

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Advice and help for would be copywriters


Insult Or Upbraid A Single One Of Them Whether They Are In The Market...

But what you must be at pains never to do is annoy, insult or upbraid a single one of them whether they are in the market for what you're selling or not. Because one day they may be; and they'll remember as clearly as if it were yesterday that yours was the product which upset, offended or abused them. In which case, they won't touch it with a long pole. I should not be at all surprised if there exists somewhere a set of statistics which proves beyond reasonable doubt that headlines enjoy two hundred per cent greater 'eye-value' than illustrations, and five hundred per cent greater readership than body copy. Nor, incidentally, should I be the least bit surprised (statistics being the malleable things they are) to learn that there is another set of them proving the converse.

I hold that all statistics, particularly those related to advertising, are as wide open to sober question as anything ever was. It is obvious to anyone but a raving lunatic (whatever research may say) that, four times out of five, the headline is the most important single element in any advertisement. And if, not being a raving lunatic, you agree with me, you will give your headlines the attention they deserve - so that they, in their turn, will receive the attention they deserve. What constitutes a deserving headline? There are, I believe, as many opinions on this as there are copywriters.

But the general consensus appears to be that the best headlines will contain elements which (a) establish some kind of offer, (b) mention some immediate benefit of the product or service on offer, (c) name, or indicate price. Most times, agreed, it's impossible to write a queue that contains all three elements. It takes both talent and a product which lends itself to the use of the (I hate to say the word) formula. Let's anyway decide that the majority of ads are better off for having a headline. This being so, surely that queue should say something more than: '0i, I'm an advertisement'. This may seem elementary to you, as indeed it does to me.

But looking at the anguishing number of say-nothing phrases which masquerade as headlines betimes, it is quite apparent that our elementary lesson is far from having been universally learned. Allow me to give you a few examples of headlines, gathered more or less at random, from recent general interest and technical magazines.

It is, I know, unfair to quote them out of context with their supporting illustrations and copy. But I ask you to believe that, in none of the cases quoted, did either of these twin crutches prevent the headlines from falling flat on their faces.

1 You pays your money, you takes your choice. 2 If you're looking for a xxxx, look no further. 3 You owe it to yourself. 4 There's never been a better time to buy a xxxxx. 5 Motorists don't know any better.

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