Remember the Three Aspects of Good Headlines:

  1. Self-interest
  2. News
  3. Curiosity

Notice how each one focuses on the reader:

  1. Something beneficial
  2. Something novel
  3. Something intriguing

“Make it worth your reader’s while to read your ad” is the most basic copywriting rule, and yet so many still fail to put it into practice.

In Tested Advertising Methods (a must-read book for you if you want to become a master copywriter), John Caples makes a beautiful illustration of what happens when a copywriter misses this fundamental tenet.

The following lists compare two types of headlines.

List 1 was written by general advertisers who cannot track the effectiveness of individual ads.

List 2 was written by mail order copywriters who live and die by the demonstrable effectiveness of each thing they write.

(These headlines were written a very long time ago, so make allowances for the old-fashioned wording.)

 

List 1: Headlines from General Advertisers

Notice: They’re often trying to be clever, and the result is a confusing headline that doesn’t explain the offer.

  • YOUR LUNCHEON ON MANY A SUMMER’S DAY!
  • WHAT’S RIGHT WITH THE WORLD WHEN GIRLS JUST WILL BE BOYS?
  • THIS NOSE BELONGS TO A THRIFTY WOMAN
  • BLANK’S CANDY––THE FIFTH THAT MAKES THE FOURSOME
  • LUCKY BABY
  • FIRST YOU LISTEN! THEN JUST DIP IN YOUR SPOON
  • IT WON’T GO OFF!

 

List 2: Headlines from Direct Marketers

Notice: Little cleverness. Little “flair”. Simply direct, clear, understandable offers.

  • BE A HOTEL HOSTESS
  • BANISH TEETERING FURNITURE
  • LIFETIME FLOOR COATING
  • SPARE-TIME CASH
  • KILL ANT COLONIES AT THEIR SOURCE
  • SPRAY YOUR WEEDS AWAY WITH WEED OUT
  • MATERNITY FROCKS
  • START A $10,000 LIFE INSURANCE POLICY FOR $1
  • HOLLYWOOD’S MAKE-UP SECRET

 

Copywriting done wrong sinks money. Done right, it’s one of the most profitable things you can learn. Join me on my journey to mastery, and get training assignments sent to your inbox daily.

 

‘Til tomorrow,

– James “Non-Clever Copywriter” Mathison