In Oliver Stone’s 1991 film, JFK, Joe Pesci plays Dave Ferrie, an American pilot alleged to have been involved in Kennedy’s unfortunate assassination.
The first thing you notice about Ferrie are his eyebrows.
A quick search on Google images and you see Pesci wasn’t taking artistic license – Ferrie’s eyebrows are ridiculous. Like marker-pen imitations drawn hastily during a drunken prank.
That’s the thing about eyebrows…
You generally don’t notice them unless they look odd.
Or sometimes, their very absence makes them more conspicuous.
It’s the same with eyebrow copy.
Hold on! What the hell is ‘eyebrow copy’?
If you’re not familiar with the term, take a look at the top of my copywriting infographic here.
Essentially, eyebrow copy is the term given to the line or two of copy that appears above a headline.
As I point out in the infographic, the main function of the eyebrow copy is to provide some context for the reader.
I guess you could consider it the headline’s sidekick…
Where the headline provides initial impact and is designed to grab a reader’s attention, the eyebrow copy is there to offer the reader a very quick context check.
A sales letter lands in front of you and printed in huge letters are the words READ THIS OR DIE POOR!
Immediately you think, what the hell is this?
So your brain tells your eyes to quickly scan for more information. Naturally you refer to the top of the page i.e. the eyebrow copy.
“This controversial report – that the government doesn’t want you to see – reveals five ways you could dramatically boost your income…”
Ah! Now it makes a bit more sense. And so you move onto the deck copy below the headline to find out even more.
Of course, eyebrow copy isn’t essential. Your headline may inherently provide context. Or it may be so impactful or intriguing that the reader has to read on regardless.
As with anything in direct response copywriting – it depends. If you’re not sure if eyebrow copy is needed, test it.
But if you do decide it’s called for… or if in drafting your letter you use it as a place holder… here are three of the most common ways you can use it:
1. Use eyebrow copy to establish credibility
As well as providing context, you can also use eyebrow copy to establish some credibility early on.
You can see a good example of this here:
This is the eyebrow copy on a direct response sales letter for a product called Copy, Paste, Profit published by Canonbury Publishing.
You can see that it immediately references two previous products that the person behind the product (Sharon Fussell) has produced.
This is good for two reasons:
a) Anyone who’s had success with those previous products will be more inclinded to read on, and…
b) Anyone who isn’t familiar with her work assumes she must be established and genuine if she’s already produced two products.
Plus the copywriter has thrown in a quick benefit too: the sales letter that follows “reveals her simplest strategy yet.”
Good stuff, right? And all this done in the eyebrow copy. Just one line!
2. Ask permission
Here’s a much simpler and straight-forward option from US copywriter Brian McLeod.
It’s for his fast track copywriting service:
You’ll see this done a lot in eyebrow copy and often in different ways. But essentially you’re asking the reader for permission to share your story.
I’m not a big fan of this method, unless it’s tied into the product itself.
For example, here I think it would take longer than five minutes to read the letter thoroughly and therefore you’ve already got one bad mark against you. You’ve lost a little trust before you’ve even started.
But if you had a video below that showed you how the product worked and that video lasted exactly 7 minutes and 42 seconds, a much stronger eyebrow could read:
“Spare 7 minutes and 42 seconds of your time right now and we’ll show you…”
I’d avoid non-specificity in your eyebrow copy. I mean, who is ‘we’ in this example? When you find out it’s Brian a little later, you know you’re in good hands. But at this point, you’re none the wiser.
Eyebrow copy should be brief, but not so brief it doesn’t add anything to your letter.
3. Set up a testimonial-type headline
Finally, here’s another option…
You can use the eyebrow copy to set up a testimonial-type headline.
This is from a sales letter for an educational forex service that aims to help people understand more about trading currencies.
The headline itself is a direct quote taken from a testimonial about the service itself: It’s like having a professional trader looking over my shoulder.
This line in isolation is a bit soft, but still interesting enough for the reader to want to know a little more.
So, they naturally look to the eyebrow and there they find a short backstory about the customer and why she was led to send such a testimonial.
In a few short lines the eyebrow copy speaks to anyone who’s been struggling with forex strategies, losing money or failing to understand how currencies work.
In this example, the eyebrow copy acts as a platform for the rest of the copy to build on.
Again, it’s a lot of work done in not much copy and just goes to show how effective eyebrow copy can be if it’s used well.
What I’d like you to do now is think about good eyebrow copy you’ve come across and share it in the comments below.
These three examples are by no means an exhaustive list of the things you can do with eyebrow copy, so please do offer up any cool ideas you’ve seen.