David Ogilvy started up O & M, one of the largest advertising agencies in the world. That very same David suggested that headlines were the most important factor in communication.
Not by a factor of 2:1...
But a whopping 4:1.
He suggested that 80% of your article is dependent on your headline. His exact words were: “On average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”
Of course there might be no proof to sustain this crazy statement, but there is common sense
And common sense tells us, that if something is not attractive enough, we just won’t respond to it. So if you were to attend a seminar in your town, you’d look for the headline first. If you were to buy a book, that “headline” is the book title and the sub-title (often the sub-title is more important). And the same applies to articles.
No matter where people are looking for your article, they’re looking at the headline first
Why do they do that? Well, because they are asking themselves these questions:
1) Is this for me?
2) Is it something that I know/have heard of, or have I never heard of this subject?
3) Will I benefit from reading this?
So let’s take an example, just from my head, of course
Headline 1: Why eating honey and cinnamon may not do your arthritis any good.
So what are the factors in that headline?
1) Is this for me? If I have arthritis, boof, I’m trapped.
2) Is this something I am aware of? Well, I didn’t know about honey and cinnamon. And if I did, then why is it not good? I’d want to know.
3) Would I benefit from reading this? Yes, if I had arthritis, this would definitely help me reconsider what I’m eating. I might stop my supply of honey, change it, or order more.
So as you can see, the factors at play force you to read the article. These factors create a solid wrapping of curiosity that’s impossible to ignore—if you have or will have arthritis. Though you may also read it if you don’t have it and someone in your family network suffers from it.
So the headline isn’t just a nice little title
It’s a time bomb that you spotted three seconds ago, and is about to go off. You have to pay attention right now, you are then forced to slide right into the article, just to see what the article is all about. Of course it’s at this point that the baton is passed over from the headline to the rest of the article. Now it’s up to the writer’s skill at holding your attention within the main body of the article.
But without the headline, the curiosity would never have stirred
You’d never read the main copy.
So David Ogilvy was right.
80% of the advertising depends on your headline.
Give or take a few percent, I’m sure.
P.S. Are you losing tons of potential business because you don’t know how the brain works?
Here is a chunky 30-page excerpt of The Brain Audit. And it's free. You'll enjoy the cartoons. You'll enjoy the way The Brain Audit holds your attention. And you'll learn a lot--even in just 30 pages.