Headlines are the essential element in your newspaper advertisements. A photograph or an illustration is very important; so are subheads and body copy. But it's the few words in your headlines that determine whether or not your advertisements will be noticed and read.
As noted in last month's column, there are several reasons why appealing to consumers' desire to save money isn't always the best tact to take with your ads' headlines. (See D&WC, October 1999) A savings offer has little interest for people who have no desire to do decorating. How do you arouse their interest? What headline appeal can reach the non-interested, the affluents who prefer service, not discount? How do you reach all those who may be content with their unfashionable, outdated stylings?
It's not easy. You'll undoubtedly need more than one headline appeal to persuade reluctant prospects. After all, your selling and marketing success depends upon a variety of efforts from educational decorating photographs to financing the purchase. Try emotional and self-interest appeals to capture prospects' interest.
Advertisers in every product area have found that the best way to attract customers is to appeal to those basic desires and emotions that make us who we are.
When writing headlines, emphasize the benefits your products can bring to a prospect, not just the product's features. Advertising professionals say, "Sell the sizzle, not the steak."
Here's a list of four basic reasons why people decorate their homes and offices. There are no surprises here; these desires have been constant since people decorated their caves. Also listed are several headlines used to appeal to these reasons. Try to apply some of them to your own advertising.
• The constant search for beauty. The word beauty is almost impossible to define. What one person deems beautiful may be considered ugly by another. Most people, however, prefer surroundings and decors that are pleasing to the eye. Acquired tastes based on training, traditions, color sense and fashion changes are some of the influences that determine this personal sense of beauty.
For many years, home fashion advertisers have appealed to this same desire or instinct. Following are headline examples that might help attract those searching for beautiful windows:
Window Beauty As You Like It
Instant Beauty for Your Windows (Almost—just measure, buy and install)
We Can Do Your Window Decorating Dreams
Discover the Timeless Elegance of Layered Stylings
Wood Blinds: The Next Generation of Window Beauty
Romance Your Windows with Beauty and Value
• The basic desire for security. This also includes the desire for privacy, protection and a feeling of warmth. Window decor can help satisfy the desire to create a refuge from the outside world. Various treatments can help provide the desired benefits of light control, privacy and a related perception of security. Following are headline examples that can help emphasize this benefit:
Your Home. Your Personal Place.
Start by creating warm and secure window designs.
Sheers for Your Windows
Yesterday's Favorites are Very Today,
Sophisticated. Sensible. Secure.
Now! Create Your Own Intimate Enclosure,
Easily and Inexpensively
Custom Window Fashions for Your Very Special World
Divide, Conquer and Control with Versatile Vertical Blinds
Refresh and Preserve Your Oasis with Fabric Pleated Shades
• The desire to feel important. It's a natural desire to acquire status, to keep up with the Jones' or to imitate celebrities and the wealthy. Following are some headline and subhead examples that might appeal to this natural peacock desire to show-off, even at the window:
Thoughtful Window Stylings
To complement your furnishings and view . . .
to welcome your guests . . .
to echo your lifestyle and good taste.
We'll Do It Your Way (Or Their Way)
Use Window Stylings to Set Your Stage
Status Stylings for Home or Office
Have the Best-dressed Windows in Town
Time to Impress Them
People look at your windows—not just through them!
• The search for comfort and pleasure. This search is often referred to as the desire to "feel good." Just about every consumer product advertisement from beer to blinds and from politicians to pleated shades uses emotional appeal that plays on this desire. These advertisements have proved to be very effective.
By exploiting the benefits of quality products, custom services and fashionable stylings, window covering retailers have helped customers feel good about their windows and homes. Following are some headline examples:
Return to Elegance with Custom Draperies
Will Your Window Shopping Be a Puzzle or Pleasure?
Can't Come In?
Shop from the Comfort of Your Home or Office
We Make Window Beauty Easy for You
Start at Your Windows for a New Lift of Pleasure and Beauty
Window Styles that Can Make Your
House a Home
When in doubt about headlines, focus on the benefits that can come from a beautiful or functional window treatment. A promised benefit, whether specific or implied, can be of major interest to any potential customer.
John J. Lichty is a consultant and senior editor for Draperies & Window Coverings magazine. He has more than 30 years experience in the planning and administration of various consumer, trade and retail advertising programs.
A series of articles by senior editor John J. Lichty have covered the essentials of retail advertising to help dealers budget, select media and create ads to increase business.
• "Advertising By the Numbers," August 1998.
• "Step-by-step Advertising," November 1998.
• "Where to Advertise," January 1999.
• "Direct Mail Means Sales," February 1999.
• "Read All About It," April 1999.
• "What's Your Image," June 1999.
• "Create Eye-catching Ads," September 1999.
• "Price Headlines Present Problems,"