John Caples on Headlines

The Headline is the most important element in most advertisements.

The best headlines appeal to the reader’s self-interest or give news. Examples:

The secret of making people like you

Do you have these symptoms of nerve exhaustion?

Announcing a new fiction writing course

How a new discovery made a plain girl beautiful

Sometimes a minor change in a headline can make a difference in pulling power. A mail order ad for a book on automobile repair had this headline:

How to repair cars

The pulling power of this ad was increased 20% by changing the headline to read:

How to fix cars

Recasting a headline can make a big difference in response. Here is the headline of a couponed ad selling retirement annuities:

A vacation that lasts the rest of your life

Here is the headline of an ad that pulled three times as many coupons:

A guaranteed income for life

The losing headline attemp ts to be clever by calling retirement a vacation. The winning headline is a straightforward promise of a benefit.

Long headlines that say something are more effective than short headlines that say nothing. A book publisher had difficulty selling a book with the title “Five Acres.” This book was transformed into a best seller by changing the title to: “Five Acres and Independence.” Another publisher had a book entitled “Fleece of Gold.” The sales of the book were more than quadrupled when the title was changed to “Quest for a Blonde Mistress.”

In writing headlines, the copywriter should try to break the boredom barrier. “How I became a star salesman” was the headline of a successful ad for a course in salesmanship.

The pulling power of the ad was increased by changing the headline to “How a fool stunt made me a star salesman.”

FROM: John Caples, 50 Things I’ve Learned in 50 Years

P.S. If you’d like to learn even more about how to write copy that sells, I recommend you join the private Copywriting Code membership site. It’s packed with valuable copywriting lessons, and more are being added all the time. Click here to check it out.

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