Hospital Marketing: How to Write Effective Headlines

Headlines are crucial in determining how effective an ad will be.  Strong headlines can make an ad very powerful while weak ones can render the ad ineffective.

First impressions are important.  The impression someone gives you within the first 5-10 seconds will go a long way in determining if you are interested in that person or not.  Those first few seconds will cause you to want to get to know that person better or not be interested at all.  This may not be fair but it’s true.   You may never get to know a very wonderful intriguing person because you were turned off in the first few seconds of your first encounter.

The same is true about headlines.   Headlines are that first 5-10 seconds that will go a long way in determining if someone is interested in your message or not. There may be great copy points that could be very vital and/or interesting to the reader but if the headline doesn’t draw them in, they will never know.

The headline should state a consumer benefit very clearly and precisely or pique the reader’s interest enough to entice them to read more. The headline should always be written with the target audience clearly in mind.  What would interest them?  What do they care about?  What is a problem they have that you can solve?  The headline should have a clearly defined objective and speak to a specific target audience.

A recent article I read listed four approaches to uncovering the headline that will get immediate attention:

  • How To. It promises information, advice or proven solutions.Other ways to use this approach include “Steps To” and Ways To”.
  • Reasons Why.  Provides reasons for doing something or believing something.
  • Question. Used if the target audience has a particular question that your product or service can provide an answer for.
  • Direct Benefit. Provides a strong benefit to the target audience.

All great headlines will not necessarily fit into these four categories.  But this is a very good way to start thinking about headlines and what will resonate with the target audience.  The headline is the key to ad effectiveness.  If you don’t make a strong positive impression within the first few seconds, the consumer will move on to the next encounter.  The headline must give the reader a reason to be interested and want to know more.  A reason to stay and want to know more.


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