Is your retail signage not achieving the positive effect on sales you’d hoped for? It’s far from uncommon for signage that seems perfect to fall flat, whether it’s due to an ineffective message or a color scheme that causes it to blend into the background.

One of the most common reasons for the failure of a corporate signage campaign is an ineffective, unengaging headline. The headline is the first part of your brochure, sign or menu that people will read, so it’s important to make sure it’s bulletproof.

From understanding your audience’s needs to clearly communicating the value of your product, service or offer, a great headline needs to achieve several things at once – something that many marketers struggle to do.

If you’re interested in improving the results of your retail signage or brochures, enhancing sales and revenue in your retail store and vastly increasing customer engagement, read on to learn how to write great direct marketing headlines.

Understand your target audience’s needs

One of the most common marketing mistakes is to focus on the features of an offer, product or service instead of its benefits. For signage, this means writing a headline that includes what you think is a selling point, not what actually is a selling point.

The best headlines directly relate to the needs of your customers. A headline for a tax preparation service relates to the customer’s need to file a tax return on time; retail signage for a discount sale related to people’s need for a specific product.

Does your headline directly address your target audience’s needs? Many headlines communicate value but don’t tap into needs and desires. Think about the key needs of your audience and make sure they’re incorporated into your headline.

Write for attention, not for an instant sale

Another common marketing mistake is to assume that your headline will “close the deal” and encourage customers to purchase something. Headlines don’t sell on their own – instead, they attract attention and encourage people to continue reading.

It’s your copy and call to action and produce sales, not your headline. In the A-I-D-A sales formula (Attention, Interest, Decision and Action), the headline’s goal is only to achieve the first step in the process: attention.

Your headline should immediately attract attention, then encourage people to keep reading. Use a short, simple message that attracts attention and let your copy focus on creating interest and desire, then closing the sale.

Clearly communicate your offer’s value

What value do you have to offer? Another common headline mistake is forgetting to mention the value that your product or service offers to its audience, particularly its value relative to other offerings from competitors.

How is your product or service better than offerings from competitors? If your offer is the best in its category, how can you communicate this fact in your headline? The key to attracting attention is often differentiating your offer from its competitors.

If your product or service is the best in its category, don’t be shy about saying it in your headline. Talk about how you’re the best, then use your copy to explain why you’re the best in your category to your target audience and build real interest.

Keep it short, sweet and as simple as possible

For decades, direct marketers have stated – often without any substantial evidence – that long headlines are more effective than short ones. In many cases, the opposite is true – short headlines are often far more effective at attracting attention.

Remember that the goal of your headline isn’t to close the deal, but simply to keep people reading. The shorter and simpler your headline is, the easier it is for people to digest its message and move on to your marketing copy.

Keep your headline short, sweet and simple. Although it might take some editing to create the perfect headline for your retail sign or brochure, you should easily be able to communicate your message and attract attention in 10 words or less.