The Number One most read part of any salespiece is the headline. These 12-20 words are the first thing a reader will see, and most will decide to read further, or to trash your message entirely, based on your headline alone!
The paradox is that the headline is for most writers and option, and at best, an afterthought. Just how important is the headline? I’ve changed one word in a headline and measurably improved my response rate. I’ve tested dozens of headlines using the same body copy and offer, and had some pull 20 times more than others. That should indicate the important place the headline holds in your overall marketing success.
Realize that your audience is not, in most cases, waiting for your next letter or ad. If they are completely new, cold prospects, they’re looking for clues to tell them if they’re interested or not. This is where the alchemy happens. We’ll talk about envelopes and postcards, as well as website copy later, but for now, let’s assume you’ve sent them a letter and they are in the minority: they opened it! The majority will do a sort over the garbage and that split-second decision eliminates them from consideration.
But this prospect opened your mailing and is now unfolding your letter. What is the first thing they want to know? If whatever it offers is of interest to them or if they’d be wasting time reading it! No headline? Your first sentence had better be the best you’ve ever written!
They will look for this information first in the headline, so the headline should be compelling. The purpose of the headline is to get their attention and draw them into the copy. It doesn’t have to be cute, or a double entendre, or try to get the order. It just needs to get them to take one action: read further. And even then, if you think they’re going to sit down, kick off their shoes and read your golden words from beginning to end, read on.