Can't think of a good headline for your next ad? Here's one that works almost every time.
Of course, you'll need to explain and expand the headline somewhat. Maybe like this:
(insert the reason for sale: season, anniversary, whatever)
(at least several days before your next sale)
It's always a good idea to be even more specific about your sale. The word "discount" attracts many readers. You know how the headlines go:
(type of merchandise)
(at least 50 percent)
Or, you can go all out for what you hope will bring in more prospects:
SUPER DISCOUNTS UP TO
(more than 30 percent, less than 100 percent)
OFF DURING OUR
(some kind of gigantic)
You don't need to be especially creative to come up with such headlines. Just keep them fairly believable and hope that you'll move enough merchandise to make up for any extra markdowns. It's just human nature to appreciate a bargain. And, it's only natural that advertisers should exploit the benefit of this basic desire.
However, throughout every area of customer retailing special sales offers, with their bold headlines and frenzied commercials, have become less effective than similar appeals in the past. Marketing experts and economists cite some of the following reasons for consumers' growing indifference:
1. Everyone is doing discounts. Retailers of every size and kind are singing the discount theme. Major department stores, specialty stores—even exclusive custom studios—are joining the discount merchandisers with sales events and price markdowns.
2. Consumers are confused. Store mergers and product sameness have had adverse effects on store loyalties and brand preferences. Now, many ready-to-buy shoppers wait for a sale before buying. If the product isn't on sale at their preferred store, they'll wait for the next sales event they know will be coming soon. More likely, they'll buy the item on sale at another store.
3. Consumers are skeptical. More shoppers, more often, don't believe some of the discount offers they see advertised. They equate promotional pricing with politicians' promises. Is the price reduction real or just another phony claim to get more store traffic? Was the original price raised before it was lowered? Will the store be conveniently out of the sale item when they arrive? More prospects grow weary of the price guessing game played by retailers.
4. Increases in affluent customer base. Not all prospects are attracted by discount offers. A growing audience of affluent consumers aren't impressed by the continuing clamor of price appeals. They're more interested in fashion, quality and reliable service.
Other affluents are smart shoppers. They love bargains, too, like anyone else regardless of income. But they've learned to sort out the low price claims. They keep up on average prices for products they want to buy. They'll buy if they decide the price and product offer is a good value.
Both audiences, the fashion-loving affluents and the smart shoppers, are primary prospects for home interior coverings.
In spite of the growing consumer frustration with discount headlines, most home fashion ads still feature price reductions of some kind in their headlines. Obviously, industry retailers continue to believe that the natural desire to save a buck or two continues to be the best enticement to attract customers.
After all, retail owners and their managers responsible for advertising should know what works. They're the ones checking ad results and planning sales events and discounts.
However, many of these same retailers also realize that price headlines are not always as effective as they used to be. They're aware of the trends mentioned above. Some are becoming more cautious with their discount offers. Others are attempting to combine price with other appeals. More are stressing value, service and other benefits in their headlines and subheads.
COMBINE SAVING AND BENEFITS
Here are examples of how retailers are combining the strong appeal of price savings with other benefits.
NOW! Choose Luxurious Draperies
for Your Windows . . .
AND SAVE UP TO XX% OFF THE REGULAR PRICE.
For a Room Worth a Second Look, Go for Fabric Verticals . . .
And Our Double-take Savings.
Good Looks for Your Windows. Great Buys! With Savings Up to XX%.
The Simply Smart Window Styling Pleated Fabric Shades Now ON SALE.
Yesterday's Favorites Are Very Today.
Natural Wood Shutters & Blinds Now at Super Savings.
Eye-Catching Designs . . .
We'll Do Your Windows BEAUTIFULLY For Less.
At Our XX% Off Prices, You'll Want to Redo All Your Windows.
Headlines are the essential element in your newspaper or print advertisements. 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.
A variety of headline appeals are available. One of the best is an offer of price savings as noted previously. The chance to save a few dollars is always a welcome benefit.
Naturally, price has the most appeal for immediate prospects. A discount offer also might help to persuade short-term prospects, those customers who are thinking about "doing something with their windows."
However, 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 what 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."
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," October 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,"
A growing audience of affluent consumers aren't impressed by price appeals. They're more interested in fashion, quality and reliable service.