…avoid festive folly in your headline, try la la la, tra la la la
Do you ever read something that stops you dead in your tracks? It can be something so good you wish you’d written it yourself. Or so bad you’re glad you didn’t.
It happened to me last week when Boots, one of my favourite shops, sent me a mailing that made me want to weep. To be clear, tears of frustration, not joy.
I love Boots. I love their No 7 products, their Clubcard points and their offers. I love the staff in my local Boots, who are friendly and helpful.
But with this mailing, Boots’ marketing team let everyone else down.
As welcome as that box of hankies you get from your auntie every year
Christmas is one of my favourite times of the year. I love everything about it. The lights, the sparkle, the food and drink, the slowing down, the getting together. I even love the planning. And the shopping.
So I should have been excited when I opened Boots’ mailing. It had a lovely festive design and was promoting their Christmas special offers.
Instead, their words left me feeling flat.
The headline said: It’s nearly Christmas at Boots.
The one job a headline has to do
Where to start with Boots’ headline?
First, the obvious question: when do Boots celebrate Christmas? Is their Christmas at a different time to the one many of the rest of us celebrate? If it was nearly Christmas surely it would be everywhere, not just at Boots?
A close second is, it wasn’t nearly Christmas. It was early October when I got the mailing. People making money from Christmas may start their planning way before the actual event but those of us who lose (alright, spend) a shedload of cash don’t want to think about it until at least the last firework has fizzled out on November 5th.
Third, and worst of all, the message is all about Boots. Their lacklustre line showed no thought for the people who would be reading it. It offered nothing about how, for example, Boots can help make Christmas easier or less stressful or more exciting. Or cheaper even?
I read It’s nearly Christmas at Boots and thought, ‘No it’s not.’ Then tossed the whole mailing in the recycling.
Nothing about that headline was designed to motivate, intrigue or inspire me and make me want to read more. And yet, I couldn’t get it out of my head. But not in a good way. It irritated me. It’s still irritating me, so I hope writing this post will be cathartic.
What you can learn from Boots’ folly
Writing headlines is undeniably hard.
But there are a few golden rules you can follow which do make it easier.
The main thing to remember is that headlines have just one job. Which is to make your reader want to read the next line.
But to do this you have to focus on your reader and what’s important to them. You have to attract attention and arouse curiosity.
The Boot’s headline ignored all this and focussed entirely on them.
What they could have written
Almost anything would have been an improvement.
I don’t have the insights into Boots’ customers that their marketing team have, but here are a few ideas (imagine them all wrapped up with some lovely Christmas styling):
- Feeling Christmassy? Let us indulge you
- Feeling Christmassy yet? Let our offers inspire you
- Boots Christmas gift offers – our gift to you
- Christmas is easier with Boots
- Getting ready for Christmas? We can help
- Ready to come Christmas shopping? Start with Boots
- Feeling festive? Us too! You’ll love our special gift offers
- You’ll find Christmas is easier with Boots
- Celebrate a stress-free Christmas with Boots
- Get your stress-less Christmas started with Boots
- Get into the Christmas spirit with our special offers
- Love Christmas? You’ll love our offers!
- Christmas shopping? Start at Boots.
- Festive bargains galore with Boots
- Our Christmas gift to you?
- Come Christmas shopping with us
- Christmas shopping with Boots – get a little extra in your stocking
That was cathartic! I’m off to make some pumpkin soup. See Boots? It’s not quite Christmas yet.
If you’d like to read more on how to write effective headlines, have a look at one of my earlier posts here.
Hello. I’m Sarah Russell, a freelance copywriter from near Cardiff in south Wales.
Copywriting genius and best-selling author Andy Maslen once said I was, ‘The best subject line writer in the business.’
Call me on: 01873 776 153
Email me at: [email protected]
Connect with me on: LinkedIn
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