3 Little Tactics to Help Pull In Your Time-Pressed Readersby J.W. Abraham on 03/25/15
It may be the hardest job in advertising.
It's getting customers to read your message.
And it is getting harder all the time as people are pressed for time as never before.
In just seconds people are going to decide if they want to spend more time reading your web page, a product description or your sales letter.
It's asking a lot of a headline and photo, the work horses of capturing readers' attentions.
So why not give them a little help.
Sometimes all it takes is a few extra words in the right place that can catch a reader's eye. It could be a message that can make them stop for a second and maybe get them to read a little more of your message.
Here are three tactics I often use to try and pull in readers.
I think of subheads as mini-headlines.
You often see them under the main headline. They can be effective way to expand on the headline and draw the reader down the page and into the body copy. I have even seen ads that have more than one subheadline. Often each will have a smaller type size and sentence length than the previous one. It often looks like a sales funnel, drawing the reader down into the body copy.
Subheads are also often used throughout a web page, a space ad or a sales letter. I think that subheads should be used in any marketing communication piece that's longer than a paragraph.
One reason is they simply make the copy appear more inviting to read. Inserting subheads can make it easier to read as opposed to having to look at a massive block of small-type body copy.
The second reason is subheads give you another way to capture your readers as they quickly scan your marketing piece. One of those subheads may contain just that extra bit of information to trigger a reader to stop and read more.
For instance, I recently received a sales letter from a life insurance company that illustrates the typical use of subheads. It was a short, one-page letter with three subheads.
The first subhead addressed the benefit of life insurance. That is to provide financial security to your family if you were gone. Although this is a well-known benefit of life insurance it may be just the reminder needed to nudge the reader to take action. Maybe the reader's family situation has changed and they have more to protect so he or she had been thinking about how to provide for them.
The second subhead dealt with the trustworthiness of the insurance company. This can get the attention of a reader who is worried about whether the company will be around or be able to make good on the policy in the future.
And the third subhead stated how easy to is to apply for a life insurance policy and that there is no medical exam. This addressed what for many people is a huge obstacle to buying life insurance. They know they need it but they fear their health is not good enough for them to qualify. Or they won't be put the ringer answering a long list of questions about their health. So by highlighting the easy application process in a subhead the company may have attracted a few more customers who may have missed it if it was just buried in the body copy.
2. Photo Captions or Callouts
Despite the phrase "a picture is worth a thousand words" sometimes a few more words can help.
This is especially true for photos of technical products.
In these instances, the reader may not be sure what the photo is showing. This is where a photo caption or call out can help explain what is going on. They can also help point out a particular feature that the reader may overlook. They definitely should accompany any inset photos that are focusing on a particular feature.
But even if the photos are pretty self evident, adding words to a photo is a great way to take advantage of where the reader's eyes probably naturally gravitate towards.
I suspect that for many readers when they are scanning some advertising piece they generally glance at the photos in the ad. So why not add an extra plug about the benefit of what it is being shown or some detail about what is being shown. And try and make it compelling and intriguing as possible to get the reader stop and want to find out more.
3. A Post Script or the P.S.
Finally, and oldie but goodie.
Whenever you write a sales letter and for many emails too be sure to include a P.S.
It may be the last element in your letter or email but it is one readers generally read. It's an element that stands out from the rest of the message and usually contains important information.
The P.S. is where many marketers will include things like the deadline for ordering, or an extra benefit of the product or service they are selling, or even an extra bonus for ordering.
Yes, in the letter I referred to above they included a deadline for ordering.
From my earliest days as a copywriter my boss emphasized to include a P.S. with every sales letter.
And like I noted how some ads will use a double headline, some marketers will use double and even triple post script messages.
To me, it is kind of like infomercials that say "Wait! There's More".
It's the last words before the reader decides whether to listen to your whole spiel or to walk out the door.
So make sure you include a P.S. and include a strong message.
It may be one of those extra lures or hooks that can pull in your prospect and get them to read your entire message.