By Goke Ilesanmi
Most times, when we look at a male and say he is handsome or look at a female and say she is beautiful, our compliment is basically based on the attractiveness of the head region which houses the face, teeth, lips, etc. That is why irrespective of how good the bodily frame or shape of a male or female is, if the head region is not attractive, he or she will not be seen to be handsome or beautiful.
The same is true of business communication. Effective headings are very critical to the success of our business/marketing communications. This is because we have just some minutes or even seconds to grab the attention of our prospects and sustain their interest to keep reading our pieces of marketing information, in the form of proposals, sales letters, brochures or even our corporate websites.
Headings are the first thing the prospects read. Findings show that four out of five people decide whether they keep reading to learn about your products and/or services on the basis of your headings.
Level of effectiveness
Do your headings capture your prospects’ attention or discourage them? Are your headings prompting prospects to learn about your products and/or services or throw away your letter? You need to avoid the following heading mistakes:
What to avoid in your headings: The first thing is to avoid emphasising obscure company names. The names of most small- and medium-sized businesses are not popular and unless your company name is among the most-recognised brands such as Suzuki, Heineken, Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Honda, etc., there is a very good chance that people will not associate the name with anything, especially outside of your immediate business environment.
Have you ever seen a print advertisement where the unknown company name occupied the upper part of the page? How did you feel? My professional advice is that unless the name of your company describes what you do, e.g. “Nigerian News Direct”, “Dangote Cement”, “Royal Delicacies Catering Services”, “Ibile Motors”, “Excellent Leaders Secondary Schools”, “Damiland High Schools”, etc., it is not going to grab prospects’ attention. Therefore, move it to the side and make room for a creative heading.
Avoid vague descriptions and statements: Another thing is to avoid vague descriptions and statements. Is your description of products and/or services specific or so generic that it could apply to other types of businesses? Does your heading focus on the selling points that distinguish your products and services from those of competitors?
For instance, research shows that people look at websites the same way they look at magazine adverts. They scan the pages quickly to see if the product or service is something they want. On the web or in a marketing brochure, if you capture their interest, they will keep reading.
The best way to do this is to give them a clear idea of the problems your products or services can solve and/or the benefits you provide. Charlie Cook, a communication expert says, “Use a few carefully selected words such as ‘Reliable Office Supplies, free next day delivery. In-home sports training for exercise enthusiasts. Web and print design that helps your business grow. Costa Rica Travel, Unique off-the-beaten track tours to jungles and beaches’.”
Your page headings should communicate clearly what you offer clients, which problems you solve and the benefits you provide. Therefore, let your headings specify and clarify what you do; describe the problems you solve; define whom you do it for; explain the benefits; emphasise a key selling point and compel your prospects to keep reading.
Grab your prospects’ attention in the first few seconds with your heading. Then follow with compelling copy that clarifies the value of your products and services and you will generate many more sales.
Thomas Hilton, Jr, of Ails Marketing Corporation also stresses that testing the headings is critical whether it is the headings on your website, your subject line in your email or the first words you speak over the phone in a sales call.
You can write out many headings and only then begin narrow your list down to the most effective one(s). Naturally, your best heading would be the one that makes you the most sales.
According to Kris Mills of Words that Sell, a top selling copywriter and respected author of numerous publications, there are so many elements that play a very important part in every advertisement, sales letter, brochure or any piece of business or marketing communications that you write. And one of the most important elements is the heading.
The heading of your piece will either make your readers so excited that they will want to read the rest of your advertisement, letter, etc. or it will make them switch off completely.
Here are some tips experts say you can deploy to help you achieve effective headings in your business communication.
Flagging down your readers: The first one is to flag down your readers. If your product or service appeals to a select group of people, a great way of grabbing their attention is to flag your readers down. People like belonging, they like identifying themselves with select groups. So, by flagging that interest group in your heading, you have instantly attracted the attention of your target group.
Promising your readers benefits: Another thing to do to attract readers’ attention is to promise them a benefit. For instance, in writing a persuasive business proposal, one that identifies the specific problem or need of the recipient, which necessitates writing the proposal, the benefit of the idea is immediately emphasised in the heading, e.g., “Multiplying your school’s profitability and popularity through exceptional career seminar”; “Advertising your organisation on www.gokeilesanmi.com.ng for high local and global publicity and acceptability”; “Boosting your schools’ corporate image through solutions to identified Nigerian English challenges”, etc.
To be continued
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GOKE ILESANMI (FIIM, FIMC, CMC), CEO of Gokmar Communication Consulting, is an International Platinum Columnist, Professional Public Speaker, Career Mgt Coach and Certified Mgt Consultant. He is also a Book Reviewer, Biographer and Editorial Consultant. Tel: 08056030424; 08055068773; 08187499425