Here’s a way to improve your advertising performance

Has it ever occurred to you that the key part of a newspaper story is the headline. I’m sure you would agree it’s the part of the story that sucks you in. As a result of the headline you decide to read the story or not read it.

So if that’s the case why aren’t most advertisers aware of this?

The more you look you’ll find advertisements either with no headings or headings that mean absolutely nothing.

I was browsing through an edition of  West Australian Business News, a publication carrying businesss to business advertising and here’s a few of the advertisement headlines…

  • The name of a restaurant followed by a statement ‘set menu at $45’. Wow that really grabs you as an absolute must doesn’t it?
  • ‘Your local team just got better’. Self flattery gets you nowhere.
  • ‘Our clients know we will deliver’
  • ‘If you have to ask the price please turn the page’
  • ‘We’ve changed the copier ‘Break-Fix’ paradigm’
  • ‘A complete workforce management system’
  • ‘Buy on advice not price’
  • ‘Production – Solid polymetallic resource inventory and new mine now in production’

Do any of those have a hope of grabbing your attention so you would bother to read the content?

Thinking that West Australian Business News just happens to be unlucky with its selection of advertisers here’s some samples from the magazine ‘Australian Manufacturing Technology’.

  • ‘More than just the right tool – the ultimate solution. That’s Beyond Blast. That’s Different Thinking’…What the heck?
  • ‘Hands off’
  • ST-30 Turning Centre’
  • ‘Big Daishowa’
  • ‘Pure Technology X class’
  • ‘Mag Vise Magnetic Workholding’
  • ‘Performance Unequalled’
  • ‘Win with Widia’
  • ‘Clearly the best PVC doors’
  • ‘Purgon: Are you special?’
  • 7 advertisement simply had their company names as the heading
    The sad fact is that everyone is copying what’s not working.

If you want an advertisement to work you have to get people to read it and the only way you’ll get people to read your advertisement is to adopt the same principals as the newspaper editor does – create a headline that grabs them.

I’m talking about a headline that says more than ‘Win with Widia’ or the name of the restaurant.

If the headline doesn’t say something like the following you’re simply wasting your money…

  • ‘Miners!: Here’s how you can increase your production output’
  • ‘Here’s how you can reduce your tax’
  • ‘Introducing a new technique for…..’
  • ‘Save on machine maintenance!’
  • ‘Do you need to cut aluminium? This aerospace technology will improve your accuracy’

The purpose of a headline is to tempt people into reading what comes next.
A totally nebulous heading that says ‘Hands off’ or toots the company horn like ‘Clearly the best PVC doors’ simply rubs people up the wrong way and there’s no way they’ll read what follows.

Sean D’Souza ( makes the point in an interesting report on headlines that question based headlines attract even greater interest.

For instance: ‘Would you like to save time and costs on machine maintenance?’.

Even better than a basic question based headline is a question based headline that directly relates to a problem that the reader has for instance the following:
‘Miners: Are production costs causing you concern? Here’s how to increase your output’.
Or :
‘Are you struggling to get ahead in your small business?’
‘Is your marketing strategy missing a vital link?’
‘Is you computer’s lack of speed driving you crazy?’

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