Titles Speak Louder Than Copy

extraMile.jpgEvery week presents another opportunity to hone my marketing skills doing something I find extremely difficult - writing. Whether for gift officers or donors, there is always an article or marketing communication beckoning to be created or revised. It's not easy for many reasons: finding the inspiration, determining the message and tone, reinventing new ways to say the same thing, but that is to be expected. Isn't that a marketer’s job?

Well, it is for most people I know, myself included. We spend lots of time toiling over the creative process, selecting the perfect images and crafting the right words.  Then, just as we are almost done, we remember that this article needs a title, or this email needs a subject line, or maybe the envelope should say something. Many clients I work with give this very important task, developing the title, little thought and time only because of a looming deadline to finish the piece. The title becomes an afterthought rather than having a specific purpose.

Seth Godin, marketer and author, said that in many fields, there's an awful lot of work put into the last ten percent of a task. The last ten percent is the signal we look for, the way we communicate care and expertise and professionalism. However, if all you're doing is the standard amount, all you're going to get is the standard response. The hard part is the last ten percent, sure, or even the last one percent, but it's the hard part because everyone is busy doing the easy part already. The secret to great results is to seek out the work that most people believe isn't worth the effort.

There a school of thought that says one should write 10+ different titles in order to determine which one or combination is best suited for the piece. In practice, we leave this to the last and, as a result, sacrifice the overall effectiveness of the message.

What would happen if we spent more time writing our best title and opening line of a marketing piece, so that the copy that comes after would actually produce our desired results? Consider giving your headlines the time and effort to make them interesting, relevant and valuable. The results can produce more than your standard response.