Ever heard of a “swipe file?”
Well, it’s a stash of clever copy and intriguing headlines copywriters keep for inspiration for sales letters, headlines and so forth.
So what’s with the topless action then, eh? What has it got to with a “swipe file?”
Well, I’ll reveal that stuff later, but it relates to a story that the New York Post ran in 1983.
It was about a bizarre murder that went down in a Queens strip club, where a hold-up man named Charles Dingle shot the owner and forced one of the patrons (who just happened to be a mortician) to cut off the corpse’s head in an attempt to “dig out” the bullet.
I’ll spare you any more of the gory details but if you’re the macabre sort and wish to know what went down afterwards you can find out for yourself quite easily by googling it.
But attempting to make you queasy before Chrimbo isn’t my intention here.
Nor is it to regale with gruesome tales of rampaging Harlem hold-up men.
It’s to illustrate the power of a great headline.
How it’s the first step in gaining your prospects attention.
To drive home how it can it change mediocre marketing efforts into campaigns that cripple your postman from all the orders he’s delivering to your business.
Like the cat who has to know what’s behind the closed door, an intriguing headline leaves us longing to know more.
For this particular headline it’s the bizarre juxtaposition of a “headless body in a topless bar”.
The first thing your mind says is, “What the hell is this?”
You need… nay crave to know what’s going on..
That itch must be scratched.
But it doesn’t have to be something as outlandish as my aforementioned headline.
It can offer a mundane benefit like “7 little known cloud-computing hacks that will save your business millions.”
However, it is NOT your business name or logo.
Or a clever soundbite or some cute meaningless gimmick.
Nor anything banal, boring or narcissistic which offers no benefit to the reader.
It will illustrate what they stand to gain should they choose to read further, whether it’s what your service offers or the brief emotional payoff one might get by satisfying their curiosity about our lurid headline previous.
Whatever it is, to clear through the clutter and get read it must appeal to your prospects self-interests and dial direct into “WIIFM” (What’s In It For Me)
I’ll leave you with what the legendary copywriter John Caples had to say on the subject..
“…if the headline is poor, the copy will not be read. And copy that is not read does not sell goods. On the other hand, if the headline is a good one, it is a relatively simple matter to write the copy.”
Something to think about for when your graphic designer insists that your logo must go at the top of your sale brochure to ensure “customer engagement”.
Keith “The Postman Crippler” Commins
P.S. About the “swipe file”. Well, I became reacquainted with the “headless body” headline when digging through my own swipe file for inspiration for some stuff I’m putting out in the New Year.
While I was there, I became distracted reading a book which is so damn good, it costs you $522.50 to buy on Amazon.
What is the bountiful book I speaketh of? Well, I did say to keep an eye on my blog over Christmas in my last post, didn’t I?
P.P.S.Want to know more about the story? Oh go on then, I knew you wouldn’t be able to resist..