When you write great headlines, you improve the results of every advertisement, flyer, invitation, press release, client letter, and email you write. Remember that 73% of the buying decision is made at the point of the headline. And “buying” can mean opening the email message, listening to the rest of the TV or radio ad, reading the rest of the newspaper advertisement, buying the product or registering for a community seminar. So let’s spend some time looking at proven ways to create great headlines.
Ted Nicholas has written books selling over a million copies including How To Form Your Own Corporation For Under $75 . Ted recommends writing the headline first before writing any other part of the ad. He starts out by listing every possible benefit he can think of. Next he turns benefits into headlines and writes as many as he can think of. Sometimes as many as 200 for one product! Once you’ve settled on the main headline you can start putting together the rest of the ad. You can use the “runner up headlines” as “sub-headlines” to highlight other advantages of the product or service.
Remember that your headline must speak to a want, need or desire of your prospective customer. This is the big benefit that your product or service offers.
Now let’s look at 7 ways to write a great headline.
- Add the words “How To” to your existing headline. Tests using the exact same ad with only these 2 words added to the headline increased results by 17%. I did this with a headline for living trust seminars beginning with “Avoid Probate…” and made it “How To Avoid Probate…” and improved results. People are looking for solutions to problems and they want to know “how-to” do something.
- You can offer to fill a gap in the marketplace with the words “Finally,…” or “At Last, You Can…” These headlines build curiosity because you may solve a problem they’ve had for a long time. “At Last, You Can Stop Worrying About Your Retirement”
- Everyone hears “No” from parents, teachers, bosses, so hearing “Yes” gets them to stop in their tracks. “Yes, You Can …”
- Using a client testimonial can create a great headline by adding credibility and personalizing the product or service. Here’s a classic “testimonial” type ad written by copywriting ledgend John Caples: They Laughed When I Sat Down At the Piano But When I Started to Play! —
- Ask a question: “Tired of Waiting For the Phone To Ring?” or “Worried About Running Out of Retirement Money?”
- Two words, “Free” and “New”, are proven to grab attention: “Free Report On Avoiding the 5 Most Common Mistakes of Retirement Planning” and “7 New Ways To Hire Better Employees” Both of these headlines have a number in them. For some reason odd numbers of lists work better. The exception to this rule is “Top 10” lists which work well.
- Try to dig deeper and uncover the “hidden benefit” of your product, seminar, or service. Ted Nicholas used “The Ultimate Tax Shelter” as the headline for selling 200,000 copies of his book on setting up your own corporation. Yes, this single ad generated over $4 million in book sales. Yet the book itself didn’t use the phrase “tax shelter.” He says that the “tax shelter possibilities are why many people form corporations.”
When you see the same exact ad running again and again in your local paper or in a magazine, you know it must be working. And a great headline is the number one reason an ad will work again and again. Folks see the ad, read the headline and then the rest of the ad and finally take action.
Now take a look at your own ads and see how you can improve the headlines.