Peddling paradise with Raquel Marra. / by Greg Monaco

Pictured: Yogi Raquel Marra gently persuading my body to bend where it doesn’t. We are at her home studio in Boston, MA. After our practice, she whipped up a mean pot o’ Guatemala—and that’s when I really opened up.

Pictured: Yogi Raquel Marra gently persuading my body to bend where it doesn’t. We are at her home studio in Boston, MA. After our practice, she whipped up a mean pot o’ Guatemala—and that’s when I really opened up.

Yoga. Colombia. And you?

My dear friend Raquel sent me a text last week asking for my professional opinion. She created this flyer for a yoga retreat she’s hosting on the Caribbean coast of Colombia. That’s right! Yoga on the Caribbean! Does she even need a flyer for an event like this? Won’t it just sell itself? Moonshiner legend “Popcorn” Sutton once said, “You can’t sell it if nobody knows you got it.” Popcorn is right, a flyer is necessary. But before I book my tickets to Colombia, let me first suggest that yoga with Raquel in a magical setting like this will no doubt lighten you up and loosen you up. If any slots remain, book ‘em here, book ‘em now.

Now back to Raquel’s flyer, and my professional opinion.

Straight talk—this flyer a perfectly fine flyer. It gives all the details of the event, peppered with a few nice photos. The essential elements are present:

  • A headline

  • Nice photos

  • Dates and location

  • A call to action with email and URL

By all intents, Raquel’s flyer is bulletin board ready. But hang on! Raquel has asked for my opinion on it. Does she doubt her handiwork? If this is a perfectly serviceable advertisement, why fret over it? If Raquel is indeed doubtful, her instincts are correct—something is missing. And, to me, what’s missing is arguably its most important part.

That something is magic: that intangible, hard-to-define ingredient that will make this flyer, well, fly.

In advertising, magic can come from many sources: an interesting photograph, an edgy design element, a quirky turn of phrase. Or all of these at once. Each element of Raquel’s flyer works well and works well together. But there’s nothing extraordinary about any of them. The photos are nice. The design is organized. The copy is clear. But where’s the spark? Where’s that elusive element that elevates the flyer even higher?

I believe we can provide some in the headline.

Right now “Sacred Paradise Yoga Retreat” is a descriptive headline. Colombia’s Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park is certainly sacred. It’s the second oldest national park in Colombia, home to ancient civilizations and an actual lost city.

But calling a place a “sacred paradise”—while true— doesn’t provide the same power as helping someone experience what it’s like to be in a sacred paradise. Say what?

Let me explain: “Sacred Paradise Yoga Retreat” has no subject. The line doesn’t involve you in any way. When you have no subject, headlines read like announcements like “rakes for sale” or “same day dry cleaning.” These lines are disconnected from you, the customer.

My goal as a writer is to create a connection and involve you. With that said, I want to drop you into this magical yoga experience. I’ve taken this challenge on and have written a few alternatives to “Sacred Paradise Yoga Retreat” to cut and paste onto Raquel’s existing flyer. Vote on your favorite here. And, if you have a better line, do share in the comments. Maybe Raquel will pick your line?

Headline #1: Place your yoga mat here.

Headline #2: Ancient chieftains saluted the sun here, too.

Headline #3: For our next class, let’s meet at the sacred cove.

Headline #4: On your next exhale, point your toes toward the lost city behind you.