The first copywriting client I ever had was Eugene Schwartz. Little did I know in 1988, when I was referred to him by my colleague (another veteran copywriter), Milt Pierce, that I was being introduced to a man who was a legend among his peers. And, a man who would become a mentor.
At that time, Gene gave me a copy of his book Breakthrough Advertising. Another thing I was unaware of was that this book was (and still is) considered one of the most important (and most sought-after) books ever written about copywriting and human behavior. I’d like to share some headline writing hints with you that come from Gene’s book as well as the books of two other legendary pros: David Ogilvy and John Caples.
Gene Schwartz: Breakthrough Advertising
“Increase the impact of a headline by the way in which it is stated.” For instance. . .
1) Measure the size of the claim. “Who ever heard of 17,000 blooms from a single plant?”
2) Sensitive the claim by making the prospect feel, smell, touch, see or hear it. “The skin you love to touch.”
3) Tie authority into the claim. “Here’s what doctors do when they they feel rotten!”
David Ogilvy: Confessions of an Advertising Man
“The headline is the ‘ticket on the meat. Use it to flag down the readers who are prospects for the kind of product you are advertising.”
1) Every headline should appeal to the reader’s self-interest. “How women over 35 can look younger.”
2) Include your selling promise in your headline (this requires long headlines). “At sixty miles an hour the loudest noise in the new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock.”
3) Headlines can be strengthened by the inclusion of emotional words. “Darling, I’m having the most extraordinary experience . . . I’m head over heels in Dove.”
4) Specific information in headlines is more persuasive. “Our washers get clothes 56% cleaner.”
John Caples: Tested Advertising Methods
“Headlines are critically important.”
1) Appeal to the reader’s self-interest. Offer something they want and can get from you.“You can laugh at money worries if you follow this simple plan.”
2) Provide news in your headline. “Discovered – a new kind of hand cleaner.”
3) Arouse curiosity. “Are you playing fair with your wife?”
Want more tips for writing headlines along with magnetic words you can use, check out Chapter 18 of Millionaire Marketing on a Shoestring Budget™. Or, pick up a copy of one or all three of the books mentioned above.
In copywriting, as with so many other skills, one of the best ways to improve your own abilities to to study the greats and learn from them. The pointers offered by these three seasoned copywriting veterans are just the tip of the iceberg. Do you have a tip you’d like to add? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below because I’d love to hear from you. Thanks a million and here’s to your sweet success.
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