Writing Attention-Getting Marketing Copy

When you think of attention-getting marketing copy, do you see images of those old call-outs in the star-burst? They said things like NEW, BONUS, and FREE. I’ve written a few when a client insisted. I generally avoid them in favor of something less manipulative and more persuasive. The way to persuade a customer, really peak their interest, is with a headline that talks about their interest. Start bursts may catch customer’s eyes, but it’s customer-centric copy that catches their attention.

Headlines today are full of word plays, double entendres, crass vulgarities, and above all humor.

You see a lot of clever headlines around today. What you see less of are messages that really sell to the customer. The customer-focused headline isn’t manipulative. In fact, it's the closest thing to honesty you'll here about a product, aside from a heart-felt product recommendation from your best friend. A customer-focused headline has two parts: first, it identifies the target customer, and second, it’s dripping with benefit appeal.

Lets take the first: Identifies the target customer. Why is this so important? Isn't everyone the target customer. Let me give that question a big resounding, "No." Even if everyone is your customer, your target customer is the one more likely to buy more often at a regular or premium price. You can worry about the bargain hunters when your last-years model gets pawned off to MacFrugals. Don’t waste money marketing to them. Your target market is the one who spends and spends often. Identify them. Then, identify them.

Your customers identity isn't limited to some demographic stereo type. Women between 25 and 40 is a TV watching demographic, but you aren’t limited to such a static group. You can target customers by behavior. Phrases like, "Chocolate Lovers Unite" or "for Those Who Love Wild Places," focus on the behavior of the customer. In fact they reach beyond the demographic to touch on identity. That’s where the passion is and that’s where the decision is made.

A really good identity phrase is going to get customer's attention by making them stop and say, "hey, that’s talking to me."

The second part of our customer focuses headline is the benefit. It needs to be dripping with benefit. I’m not talking about your grandpa salesman’s feature list. I’m not talking about the benefit of picking up dust twice as fast as other leading brands. Who cares. That may be a rationale they give later for buying the thing. The benefit that really drives home the sale is the one that taps into what the customer really values. People really value things like profit, freedom, vanity, love, belonging, etc. Very few of these are achieved through the purchase of a product, but a product that can bring one closer to these things, that can offer the hope of these things, that’s worth buying.

Tapping into real desires is the real dripping benefits of attention getting copy that sells. Finding out what that benefit is often requires deep questioning, observation, creativity, and a lot of inspiration. The best recipe for getting to it is getting to know your customers, what they think, what they feel, what they value. That’s the real fun of copywriting, when you discover what people really care about then offer it to them in such an open honest way that they can’t help but accept.

Once you have that reach-out-and-grab-'em headline, follow it up with good supportive copy that adds and proves more benefits. Then close with a specific call to action. The call to action is a topic unto itself and I’ll get to it in due time.

Now the last bit of writing attention-getting copy – practice. Words are your tools, the more you use them, the better you’ll get with them.