What’s the Big Deal About a Headline Anyway?

The Success Margin

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


Is the headline of any space ad, or sales letter, brochure or subject line all that important?

You bet it is! Even a single word can often make a dramatic difference in response.

Sometimes the right headline can increase response 200 to 300%. Sometimes the wrong word can slash
response by 75% or more.

In my experience, creating an entirely new headline completely can multiply your sales by as much as 5
times, or 500%. Is it worth testing? What do you think? I can tell you that I never run advertising
without a headline test.

** You are just 17 words away from a million dollar fortune! **

You may think that in order to get your full attention I’m exaggerating the case for creating a strong headline.

But please be aware of these facts.

I’m going to describe what a few words have done to catapult others to multi-millionaire status.

A few examples:

Five Magic Words by best-selling author, Robert Allen, earned him a multi-million dollar fortune and started a whole industry. The words:

“No Money Down Real Estate”

Ten Magic Words by entrepreneur, Jeff Paul, have earned him millions. The words:

“How to Make a Fortune at Home in Your Underwear”

Three Magic Words for a product helped young internet millionaire, Yanik Silver, earn a fortune. The words:

“Instant Sales Letters”

Two Magic Words by Bill Meyers have earned him millions. The words:

“Unfair Advantage”

Seven Magic Words have helped Bill Bonner of Agora Publishing build a 350 million dollar company. The words:

“Best Places in the World to Retire”

The Company Corporation, one of the companies I formed, has become the largest incorporator in the world. A hugely successful headline responsible for millions in profits is this:

“Incorporate on the Phone in 7 Minutes or Less”

** Don’t miss the opportunities a strong headline gives you **

In my view, most often copywriters do not put forth nearly enough effort on headlines.

I consider the headline crucial in all media. This includes online and offline media, e-mail, postcards,
sales letters and space ads. I won’t even run the copy at all unless I’m satisfied with the headline.

I write as many as 200-250 headlines before I settle on the one I choose. It’s the very first thing I create before I write a single word of copy.

Recently you may recall I rewrote the ad for the winner of my “Improve Your Ad Challenge.” It was a successful ad in its present form.

It will help improve your copywriting skills to take an exclusive look and go behind the scenes with me.
(Of course, this is done with our subscriber’s permission.)

I’ll reveal exactly why and how I created a new headline approach. I’ll also comment on the client’s headline.

Here is the original headline submitted by our Success Margin subscriber.

“Save money with the amazing Mobal GSM World Phone that works in over 150 countries!”

In my view, this is a reasonably strong headline. However, I don’t like a few aspects of it. These include:

“Mobal GSM World Phone” is of course the name of the product. All products names are usually “me” messages for the manufacturer. My experience in numerous tests revealed that benefits almost always produce greater response than products. So I almost never use the name of the product unless it includes a benefit.

“Over 150 Countries” is too vague. I like a specific number, e.g., 153, which is more credible and believable.

Here is my new headline:

“Are You Sick and Tired of Getting Ripped Off By the Outrageous Costs of International Telephone Calls?”

It’s vital to use as much emotion and intensity in the copy. Especially the headline.

Look at the ideal use of emotional words and phrases:

“Sick and Tired” “Ripped Off” “Outrageous Costs”

Notice how many of the human emotions we all feel while traveling are explained in my 17-word headline.

Adding emotional intensity improves the sales pull of your copy. Remember this. All of us buy everything we purchase for emotional, not logical reasons.

My Dear Reader, I’d appreciate it if you would keep me posted on your results. I’d love to hear your success story as you use more emotional power in your copy.

Your correspondent,

Ted Nicholas