The Herald, Newsday, Daily News, H-Metro and about 10 other Zimbabwean newspapers are in a daily street fight for your attention. They battle not with fists and boots, but with words…headlines to be specific. And the prize to the winner? Your dollar when you buy their paper.
Like a newspaper surrounded by competitors on a news stand, you’re constantly in a battle for attention from your market too. Without attention, you don’t exist, no one buys, no one recommends you and no one cares.
No one understands this better than Zimbabwe’s local newspapers. They understand that like you, everyday they’ll win the attention battle with the right headline. Take a look at a typical road side news stand these days…
Each newspaper has just a second to grab your attention and convince you to buy. That means they’ve constantly have to find killer stories that make for irresistible headlines. Look at the headlines from the picture, I took it, with my phone on a roadside along first street, two months ago.
Which headline would have won your dollar?
- Daily News – “Zuma Turns On Zanu PF”
- Herald – End Your Riots First, President tells UK
- Sunday Times – No Kickbacks for You
- NewsDay – ‘Isolate Mugabe’
- Kwayedza- Dhuma dhuma na…Hwindi!
- H-Metro – Cattle Thief Bellows, Excretes Cow Dung
- The Southern Times –The Drums of War
- Manica Post – Speeding Overloaded Kombi Kills 16
- Sunday News – Govt Suspends Holiday Lessons
Most of them are political or politically motivated and if there’s even a single newspaper that doesn’t have an obvious political bias for Zanu PF or MDC, I haven’t read it yet. H-metro cleverly went another direction…
Pornography and controversy – sort of.
I’ve often wondered how they’re allowed to print some of the stories they do, no doubt one of these days they’ll catch the wrong person with his pants down – but that’s another story. Nevertheless, the H-Metro newspaper is a success, people are buying and they’ve built a strong brand in record time – nice. Their differentiation allows them to offer headlines no one else could. Which is a good thing.
There’s a lot to learn on the importance of a killer headlines from the local newspapers – learn it. I’m often challenged with a nagging question and I hope it will nag you too…
If your advert were a news story (which it is), not just ‘an advert’ would it make the front page?
And if it did, how would it compete against all other front page headlines?
Your decision will be largely determined by which headline grabs you, advertising 101. Research shows that your headline can account for as much as 80% of the power of your advertising. – That’s why your logo, your company name and your ‘amazing slogan’ should never be your headline. Your company name is just not front-page material for any newspaper because no one except you and your proud mama cares about your company name.
Focus instead on what you can say that really matters to your market and why they would care. Focus on what the market wants to read, not what you want to say.