By Goke Ilesanmi
Last week, we said 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. We said the same is true of business communication as effective headings are very critical to the success of our business/marketing communications.
We added that 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.
We explained that headings are the first thing the prospects read and 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.
We advised that the first thing to avoid in your headings is emphasising obscure company names. We said 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.
We stressed that you should also avoid vague descriptions and statements. We explained that research shows that people look at websites the same way they look at magazine adverts and they scan the pages quickly to see if the product or service is something they want. We added that on the web or in a marketing brochure, if you capture their interest, they will keep reading.
We also stressed the need to flag down your readers. We said if your product or service appeals to a select group of people, a great way of grabbing their attention is to flag them in your heading.
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”; “Boosting your schools’ corporate image through solutions to identified Nigerian English challenges”, etc.
NOTE: A persuasive business proposal is the one customised for one recipient. It cannot be transferred to another person or organisation. That is why it naturally elicits action from the recipient. For instance, if the school of your child sends a note to you, which reads, “Dear parent, the weather is very cold now, always wear a cardigan for your child, please”, you may not take necessary action because you assume that it is a circular sent to all parents and not specifically addressed to you.
But if the note reads, “Dear Mr. AYZ, as you know that the weather is very cold now sir, and Adesina cannot withstand it because he is just five years old, always wear a cardigan for him, please.” The second note will immediately elicit action because it is specifically written for the parent.
Some of the most successful headings convey something unique about a business. Are you the only business in your field that does something that the others do not do such as offering something for free or giving extra service and so on? What do you do that your competition does not? Do you go through a checklist with your customers to make sure you are doing a good job?
Do you use a revolutionary process that saves your client time, money and does a better job?
Have you studied for many years with the world experts in your field? If you have, certainly include it in the heading but you must show how this expertise will benefit your readers.
If you do something that gives you a competitive edge over your competition, stress this in your heading. Likewise, if you are offering your clients something truly outstanding, mention it in your headings.
Using the word “You”: Using the second person pronoun “You” is another way that you can create good impression with your headings. The most important word in English Language when it comes to advertising is the word “You”. It helps your readers relate to what you have to say. It also helps them involve themselves in your selling message. This factor comes back to the fact that most people are “Me, Me, Me”. If you can emphasise “You, You, You”, you have got their attention.
Read any personal development book and you know that the key to getting people to like you is to talk about them, show interest in them and praise them. If you cannot use the word “You” in your heading, you can imply it by using the phrase “How to” which has a similar effect because it still involves the readers or audience.
Size of the text in your heading: To achieve effectiveness in your headings, try to determine the size of the text. The size of your text is very important. If you use a small typeface, it will disappear into your body copy and will not stand out. Make sure the typeface is 4 to 8 times the size of the body text and takes up about 20 to 25 per cent of your advert space.
Using an exclamation mark: Using an exclamation mark is another way to make your headings effective. According to Mills, “The simple act of putting an exclamation mark at the end of your headline makes people feel that the statement is dramatic so there’s more of a chance they’ll read further.”
Putting your heading in quotation marks: You can also put your heading in quotation marks to make it attract attention. Experts say putting your heading in quotation marks makes people feel that it is a quote so they are more likely to read on.
Mentioning your offer in your headings: Mentioning your offer in your headings is another way to enhance your business communication. Giving your readers a compelling reason to respond, makes you stand out from your competitors and accelerates sales. If you have a powerful offer in your advertising piece, in some cases, it is best to mention it in your headings.
PS: For those making inquiries about our CV/Profile Writing and Speech Writing Services; Political Persuasion and Presentation Course; General Public Speaking and Business Presentation Course; Professional Writing Course, etc., please visit the website indicated on this page for details.
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