A Headline Can Earn You a Fortune
THE SUCCESS MARGIN
Wednesday, June 18, 2003
*** ''The secret to success, in life and in
business, is to work hard at the margin.
Relentlessly. It's as powerful as compound
interest, the eighth wonder of the world.
Those little marginal extra efforts will
inevitably grow into something big.''
-- Bill Bonner
*** Little things mean a lot
*** ''God is in the details''
It's shocking to observe how poor the headlines are
in all media. The worst examples are on the Web. This
includes advertising as well as news stories.
It's incredible to me, right in the middle of the
Information Age, when it's more important than ever,
creating headlines has become a dying art.
Yet, headlines are responsible for 90% of the success of any
piece of sales copy.
Numerous times just by creating a new headline, I've turned
a loser into a winner. This is without any change whatsoever
in the body copy or the offer.
The headline is not just important to the marketer. It's
Whether the headline is on an outer envelope, at the top of a
space ad or sales letter, it must be strong, powerful and grab
The subject line in an e-mail letter acts like a headline
and should be treated with the same importance as in all
Here is what the late advertising legend, David Ogilvy,
had to say:
''On the average, five times as many people read the
headlines as read the body copy. It follows that unless
your headline sells your product, you have wasted 90%
of your money.''
There are five main reasons why a headline is so important.
1. Attracts attention
2. Communicates a strong benefit
3. Appeals to the self-interest of the reader - Answers the
question: ''What's in it for me?''
4. Sets the tone for the offer
5. Selects the right audience
To underscore the importance of the headline on the outside
envelope, I'd like to take you behind the scenes for a case
history from which you can glean enormous benefits.
The successful headline, or ''teaser,'' original copy on the
envelope reads as follows:
''How You Can Defeat the Dangers of the Toxic
Environment in Which You Live''
Simply to try to beat the ''control,'' even though extremely
successful, I suggested we test four new teasers against the
above control mail kit on the outside envelope. Testing
new headlines is the easiest and potentially THE most
profitable thing you can ever do.
We would keep all the other elements exactly the same.
This includes the sales letter, order form, and reply
envelope without change.
Here are the new outside envelope headlines, or as direct
marketers call them, ''teasers.''
Can a Natural Green Plant Miraculously
Prevent and Cure More Diseases
Than All The Artificial Drugs Put Together?
Can a Green Plant Supplement Contain At Least Twice
The Nutrients and Health Power Of Any Vitamin Pill?
What is Nature's Most Perfect Food?
Shocking Health Facts About the Miracle Green Plant
Pharmaceutical Companies Do Not Want You to Know
Which of the above four new headlines or existing
headline (five total) would you pick as the winner?
I'll give you the results in a moment. However, before
you know the answer, to get the maximum benefit from
this exercise, think about which one appeals to you most
The good news is, in any form of direct marketing you do
not have to guess. You can test and make decisions based
Here are the actual mailing results from this test.
Original Control Headline Percentage response 7.08%
New Headline #1 Percentage response 8.60%
New Headline #2 Percentage response 9.32%
New Headline #3 Percentage response 7.92%
New Headline #4 Percentage response 9.00%
What happened was extremely unusual. The winner was
number 2. However, all four of the new headline tests
beat the existing control, which was already extremely
My client, was not just surprised. He was
shocked beyond belief! He couldn't get over changing a
few words on the envelope would make such a huge difference
on the overall sales and profitability of the mailing.
Another way to analyze the importance of what happened is to
look at the numbers.
For every 10,000 pieces mailed using #2 (the new control)
the gross profit increase over the former control is $10,800.
The gross profit increase is 40% over the original mailing.
On 100,000 pieces mailed, the additional gross profit is
$108,000. For a major mailer, on a million pieces mailed
this is a cool $1,080,000.
Tip: Write down even hundreds of headlines before you get
ready to sell anything. Select four of the strongest ones.
Every time you do a mailing or e-mail letter, create and
test at least one headline against your original headline,
copy and offer, whether or not it's already working.
Can you now see how you are 17 words or less away from your
first or next million?
Why 17 words? Simply because only a handful of times have I
made a longer headline work in my experience.
Here's to better headlines and more success to you in all your
P.S. Without excellent headlines, you simply cannot have
a successful direct marketing business using any media.
If this headline ''lesson'' has been of help to you, I'd like
to hear from you. There is much, much more I could share
with you on this important topic.
Copyright 2003 Nicholas Direct, Inc.