Much has been said about Batman and Robin. That they’re the ultimate boy’s club, and that’s why Bat Girl is never around. That it’s weird that one is wearing armor and the other one wearing bikini briefs. That Robin is Batman’s secret love child and he only took him in so he could avoid paying child support. That they sleep in the same bed and take showers together.
Whatever you think about The Dynamic Duo, you have to respect them as the symbol of teamwork. As much as I love the Dark Knight, I have to admit that he’s better when he has Robin by his side. And even if you prefer the Boy Wonder, you know that if there was no Batman he’d just be a kid in tights. Together they are more than the sum of their parts. Communications copy can be a lot like that, too. The two major parts of copy, the headline and the body, work together to create an overall effect.
The Headline is Batman
Let’s face it: the headline is the star of the show. Like Batman, the headline could technically stand alone if it wanted to. There’s a reason for that. There are some numbers that show four out of five readers don’t read past the headline. So, the headline has to tell a whole story, just in case the reader never makes it to the body.
At the same time, the headline should convince as many readers as possible to get to the body. How does it do this? One way is to qualify the audience by telling the reader who this is for. What Senior Citizens Need to Know About Over the Counter Meds tells the reader exactly what an article is about. If I am a senior citizen or have an interest in the issues that face senior citizens, I’m more likely to read the words on the page that follow.
The headline also has the job of piquing the readers’ interest. Maybe it’s asking a question they’d like to know the answer to. Maybe it suggests a solution to a problem. Or it might announce something new. It’s just a matter of figuring out what the reader is interested in. And just like Batman, the headline gets all the credit. It’s the first thing the reader comes across and what he’s most likely to remember.
The Copy is Robin
The second half of this partnership is a little less flashy but that’s OK. Robin may not have a tricked out car or a series of villainesses to fall in love with, but he’s got some moves on him. His acrobatics have saved the day more than once while Batman was stuck in some lame trap that could have been avoided if only he’d stop staring into Poison Ivy’s eyes.
Like Robin, body copy doesn’t get as much attention as the headline, but it’s still vital to persuading the reader to follow that oh-so-important call to action. Body copy’s job is to inform the reader, explaining why she should do what you want. The body is where your acrobatic moves flip those features into benefits, connecting the dots between the readers’ interests and desires to the product or service you’re representing.
How to Model Your Communications After Batman and Robin
Bad copy is everywhere you look, even on the marketing materials of high profile brands. But it doesn’t take a lot of money or experience to produce a headline and body duo that works together so well that it deserves its own theme music. Here are few tips to keep you out of copy jail:
- If you have trouble coming up with a headline, write your copy first. Sometimes you can find a headline while writing the copy. In fact, there are some copywriters who only do it this way.
- Make your headline a complete message, just in case it’s as far as the reader goes.
- State your case in the body copy because you know that everyone reading that is at least minimally interested.
- Remember that your body copy supports your headline. If you make a promise in the headline, deliver it in the body.
- Use your audience’s self-interests to determine what to emphasize in the headline and expand upon in the body.