The secrets of marketing psychology, Pt. 2Article added by Michael Lovas on May 22, 2009
Michael Lovas

Michael Lovas

Colbert , WA

Joined: December 10, 2004

My Company

The most effective way to grab attention!

Did you read that headline? Enough said. That's lesson one. But why did it work for you? Probably because you want to learn two things: 1) how to be more effective, and 2) how to grab attention. Those things represent values in your mind. You want them. When you see or hear words that mention them, you pay attention.

Over the years, we've seen many research projects conducted on advertising. Consistently, the most important element is the headline. The headline wraps the reader's values in an attractive package. If you can't attract people to your headline, you're not giving them anything they value. If you're dropping that ball, chances are slim to pitiful that they'll read beyond that. Why would they want to?

The headline is like standing up and waving a sign. The sign contains the reader's values -- in big type. Amid all the static and random data, your message can really stand out, but only if you use the right words in the right format in your headline.

Quick aside. Picture yourself walking onto a stage to deliver a short talk at a national conference. The audience is filled with people just like your best clients. You really want to connect with them. But how? What do you say first? You can use a headline in your speaking and seminars. In those venues, it is the statement or question that reaches out and goes directly into their brains.

The headline has only two primary jobs: 1) Grab attention, and 2) entice the reader to stay involved. That means it cannot be all things to all people. You need to think in terms of narrow targeting. Make it a dart, not a hand grenade.

Products vs. services. Perhaps the most important hair to split is the difference between headlines for product sales and professional services. If you're selling any product, whether it's life insurance, LTC, swimming pool supplies, digital cameras or motorcycle parts, your headlines should have a harder edge to them. Product marketing tends to focus on numbers and the bottom line. They give deep discounts and promise great savings now! Limited Time Offer!

For example, uses the headline, "Life Insurance Rates at All Time Lows!" See if you can spot the similarity in the next ones. Leslie's Pool Supplies promotes a "Deal of the Day." Instawares Restaurant Supply Superstore promotes "4 Great Ways to Save!" Ace Hardware promotes, "Spring Savings Sale."

See the hard focus on the bottom line? If a consultant did that, she would look desperate. Who wants to hire a desperate consultant, planner, agent or advisor? No one in his right mind. If you're the consultant, that kind of headline could easily damage your credibility. Now, imagine your reaction if your doctor placed a flashing headline like that on his landing page: "Surgery of the Day!" "4 Great Diseases to Fight -- On Sale Now!" Would you call his office to research the cheapest surgery so you could be the first on your block to have it?

The point is, the degree of softness and the volume of shouting used by a professional service firm is vastly different from a firm that primarily sells products. The professional service firm would focus more intensely on building the visitor relationship. People in a business relationship buy more services and give more referrals.

Four attention-grabbing formats

Now, let's look at four of the most effective headline formats. I'll also give you some examples of each:

1. Questions
2. Numbers
3. Connecting to their pain
4. Secrets

1. Questions

The human brain seeks completion. That's why puzzles are so popular. It's why we can't stand an incomplete thought. For example, if I sing this next line, your mind will probably finish it: "Give me liberty or give me ______!" What is it? An iPod? An annuity? A job? Great taste? $5 Footlong? A lobster bib?

Questions work the same way. Your mind seeks to answer the question. Here are some examples of how to get started with headlines. Your job is to spot the ones that can work for you and then edit them to fit your business. Then, insert them into your marketing.

What do babies know that you forgot?
Is Your _________ Your Biggest Mistake?
Aren't you curious about....?
What if you could....?
What if you didn't have to....?
Is your child ready for....?
Are you ready for ....?
What if you could....?
Did you know that....?
Ever ask yourself if....?
Isn't it time to....?

2. Numbers

Numbers demonstrate specificity, and specificity increases credibility. That's because specifics imply that you possess very deep knowledge about your topic. Thus, specifics are more believable than generalities. Consider which one of these statements you would trust more:
    1) Index annuities are designed to mirror the performance of a common or well-known index, such as the S&P 500, Russell 1000 Index or the S&P 100.

    2) An annuity gives you certain benefits you may enjoy.
Now, let's look at a few other examples. Again, your job is to spot the ones that can work for you and then edit them so they fit your business. Then, insert them into your marketing.

6 Reasons Why You Can't Achieve Financial Security:
17,435 hamsters gotta be right.
2 Reasons Why You Need to Subscribe
I bet you $97 you can't find the misspelled word on this page
50 Ways to.....
7 Steps to a.....
91 Great Tips to Help You _____________!
7 painful marketing mistakes -- and how to avoid them!
4 out of 5 bankers say .....
89 Recipes for Success!
3 ways to make yourself more desirable
6 Types of _______ -- Which One Are you?
Take this 3-minute Financial Security Test

3. Connecting to their pain

For many years, we've seen advice urging marketers in every industry to take a positive approach. Sorry, it's not good advice. Fact is, only about half of the population looks for the silver lining. The rest look for problems to avoid. See the difference?

This latter group looks to see which problems you can name. If they don't see a problem that they relate to, they have to assume that you have no solutions. On the other hand, if you can name and discuss problems, they see you as relevant to their, er, problems. In their minds, (so they think) life is just a series of problems to solve or avoid.

Here's an example of the power of this approach. Which one do you think is more compelling:
    1) 3 ways to enjoy life.
    2) 3 ways to avoid life's most painful experience.
Here are examples of headlines that connect to the target market's sensitivity to problems and problem solving. Once again, spot the ones that can work for you.

It Didn't Hurt -- at First
5 Blunders Made in every __________
The Dirty Truth about Annuities
13 Fatal Flaws that Kill __________
The Worst Decision Everyone Makes with Their Money
Blueprint for Failure -- and how to avoid it
Do you suffer from _______?
Ever feel threatened by __________?
The 5 Most Money-Losing Decisions
Never Make this Mistake Again!

4. Secrets

Most of us are insecure about something. Often, it's related to a lack of success, knowledge or skill level. Pam and I have coached many brilliant advisors who were literally scared of their target market. How successful do think they were?

After years of enduring insecurity, it's easy to start thinking that there must be a secret, and you're the only person alive who has yet to discover it. The "secret" headline appeals to that insecurity. Here are some example:

What Do Rich People Know about _________ that You Don't?
The Secret that Civilization Forgot
The overlooked secret to _____________
Secrets of Success Revealed
Ancient Secrets of the Pharos Finally Released
The Secret Process of How People Make Buying Decisions
The Secret Process of How Smart People Make Stupid Financial Decisions
Business Success Exposed!
See where financial professionals put their money
Learn what Stocks Bankers Own

In conclusion

I wrote my first marketing program in 1977. Over the years, I've learned a tremendous amount about marketing and the psychology of marketing. The advice I give you isn't "borrowed" from a book. It comes from personal experience. I know these suggestions work, because I've seen them work.

Obviously, these are not the only types of headlines, and the psychology behind all of them is the same. If the reader does not care about the value represented in your headline, no amount of jazzy type treatment will change their mind. Before every headline is written, consider this question: Why should I pay attention to you right now? If you can answer that question, you will have an audience for a few seconds. That's all you can expect from the headline. Then, it's up to you to prove that you can fulfill your promise to the reader.

Your reward

If you want to learn more about how to use psychology in your marketing, contact me using the forum below. I will send you the updated and expanded paper titled, "Words that Sell." It's based on our new eBook by the same title, so you can get a peek inside and learn the most powerful words in the English language. No charge, absolutely free!

*For further information, or to contact this author, please leave a comment and your e-mail address in the forum below.
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