Today’s market for attracting and retaining legal services clients is more competitive than ever. You need exceptional advertising and marketing to attract attention. And great advertising and marketing–online or in print–starts with a great headline. It’s your first, and best, opportunity to engage a prospect.
||Give clients and prospects hope
||Think like the caller not a lawyer
||Will you feel better once this is all over?
Want to know how to craft headlines that sing out to prospects? Here are seven strategies:
- Be as fresh and newsy as possible. Tell your readers something they may not know, such as “You might be missing out on severance.” A provocative headline suggests provocative copy to follow.
- Offer hope. A president was recently elected based in large part on his call for hope and optimism. Great headlines do the same thing by offering positive news and suggestions of solutions. A slight variant on this would be posing a problem, then immediately offering a solution. For example: “Compliance concerns? We can help.”
- Be personal and relevant. For instance, a head like “Thinking about bankruptcy? Let’s talk – no charge” appeals on a personal level. “Understand and empathize with your audience,” says Patrick Scullin of Ames Scullin O’Haire Advertising in Atlanta. “Write ‘for’ them, not ‘to’ them.”
- Surprise the reader. “Divorce doesn’t have to be nasty” can be more appealing than the standard service offer. Taking a straightforward, rather bland message and putting it in fresh terms can make a big difference. “Do you want your offspring to argue over your estate?” beats “Have you made your will?” for example. “Don’t say the expected in expected ways,” says Scullin. “Use vibrant language, bold ideas, and enticement.”
- Honesty is appealing. Headlines that suggest that no one is perfect can connect with readers who are tired of exaggerated service claims that simply don’t measure up. “We’re nit pickers” could be an attractive message for someone seeking a real estate lawyer, while “We’re pushy” might be just the quality a client wants in a litigator. Says Scullin: “Pure brutal honesty attracts attention, as do [some] character flaws.”
- Don’t include the name of your firm. The objective of any headline is to engage a reader’s interest and make them hungry for more information. No offense intended, but that generally doesn’t include your firm’s name. “The best headline for any ad is the word, phrase or short sentence that will attract more of the potential customers than anything else you could have put in that space. And it certainly isn’t the name of your business,” says Barry Maher of Barry Maher and Associates of Corona, California. “That’s the case even if you’re as well known as Sears, Ford, or AT&T. That’s why those companies never use their names as headlines, even when creating an ad for their entire business.”
- Pledge a benefit, but be sure to follow through. Ultimately, a great headline makes a promise to your readers–a declaration of standout service or results. “Injured? Get the maximum compensation.” Of course, even the best headline rings hollow if juicy promises turn sour: “Promise a benefit,” says Scullin. “Just be sure you can actually deliver on it.”