Simple. Markets change. They are like a living organism. One day one particular headline work, the next day... that same headline sucks.
To be able to write profitable headlines, one need to understand the psycology behind profitable headlines... and WHY they work. It´s not about being creative (luckily)... it´s rather a game of connecting the dots.
I thought it might be helpfull for new copywriters here to learn how to write attention getting headlines from scratch... and maybe some of you more experienced writers could benefit from a reminder of what makes headlines pay as well.
So anyway.... here´s 8 types of headlines... and when and why they are most profitable.
1#. The straight benefit headline.
This headline does exactly what it sounds like. It states the most powerful benefit your product/service will give to your customer.
Eugene Schwarz tests show that this type of headline is most effective in a new market. A market where no one has claimed to give these benefits before. For example this headline...
Siberian Cat breeder tells you...
"How to have a furry cat without sneezing or get any other allergic reactions at all."
2 #. The Question headline.
You´ve probably heard that it is neurologically impossible for the brain to ignore a question. Thats one good reason to state your headline as a question.
Another benefit that comes with this type of headline is that you might have claims that you can´t state as promises or benefits... but they can be stated as a question. This form of headline works like magic if you have claims that sounds to good to be true. An example is this classic Gene Schwarz headline...
Has this man developed the power to see into the future and control his destiny?
Here´s another one of Gene´s Question headlines...
Do you have the courage to earn half a million dollars a year?
Can you see how this headline automatically makes you assume that it is possible to earn half a million dollar a year? Now it´s just a matter of courage, and I´ve got that right?
Look at how your brain would resist this "claim" if it was stated as straight benefit headline like this: How to earn a million dollars a year!
Anyway. This type of headline can also be used if you want to tell the reader about some mistake he´s doing... without offending or accuse him personally. That´s how Bencivenga used the question headline when he wrote...
Do you make these mistakes in job interviews?
3#. Built-in proof headline.
My favorit. This type of headline work wonders when your market has heard all your claims before, and he has simply lost faith in them.
Gene Schwarz was a master at this type of headline. And built-in proof is probably more important today, than it was when Gene was around... since we are bombarded with advertising 24/7.
Anyway, here´s some of his headlines with built in proof:
Now, a world famous physician, who treats some of America's leading celebrities, says forget about drugs and realize that...
FOOD IS YOUR BEST MEDICINE
(If you would write just "FOOD IS YOUR BEST MEDICINE"... it loses all of it´s power, doesn´t it?)
At last! A leading woman executive shows you how to...
Work All You Want! And be a BETTER WIFE and MOTHER because of it!
4#. The mechanism headline.
Another way to build in proof into you headline is to name the mechanism that will create the benefit for the customer. Like this:
AT LAST, A DOCTOR WHO SAYS:
Take Food, Not Medicine, If You Suffer From Any One Of These Ills!
(In this headline the meachanisms is "food".)
5#. Marketoriented headline.
The most compelling thing in the world to any human being is first himselves, then his family, his home town and his state. In that order. If you´ve got your prospects name... use it. Either in the headline, or atleast in the salutation.
Headline nr 5# is all about making the reader identify with your headline. Which means you understand him, and therefore, you can be trusted. This typ of headline works in every type of market.
Some examples for study:
FOR THE WOMAN WHO IS OLDER THAN SHE LOOKS
Is It Immoral To Make Money This Easily?
For the man who wants to make his fortune overnight! Startling information that opens a great new inside-road to wealth
SIX TYPES OF INVESTOR — WHICH GROUP ARE YOU IN?
ARE THEY BEING PROMOTED RIGHT OVER YOUR HEAD?
6 #. The guarantee headline.
If you think one of the things tha lowers your response is that your claims aren´t believed, or that the customer thinks it is a to big of a risk to buy from you... a good idea is to state your guarantee right in the headline. Like this:
An experienced direct response copywriter says...
"You don´t pay a cent before this copy doubles the response on your sales page."
or this one, from Vic Schwabs list of a hundred headlines...
GUARANTEED TO GO THROUGH ICE, MUD OR SNOW — OR WE PAY THE TOW!
Another example is the headline Bencivanga wrote for CPR&S (a New York based ad agency)...
Annoncing a direct response advertising agency that will guarantee to outpull your best ad.
7 #. The compelling offer headline.
If people allready know about your product, and are convinced that it does what you say it will do for them... then a compelling offer is all you need to get action.
This type of headline is most profitable if you are sending out a promotion to a current customer who are happy with your product... especially if it is something they consume, like anti-age cream or diet-pills etc. etc. Headlines like "Buy 3, get 1 free" is perhaps the most commonly known example of this kind of headline.
Here´s another classic...
Free Fuel For A Year With
Purchase Of New Car -- Today Only
8 #. The challenge headline.
Everybody has a screwed picture of themselves and the world they live in. They naturally want to do, be or have things they categorize as "good", "successful" and "rich". And if you challenge their view of themselvs... they´ll want to prove to themselvs that they haven´t the characteristics of "lazy" and "unsuccessful" people.
Here´s a few exaples of the challenge headline:
A WONDERFUL TWO YEARS’ TRIP AT FULL PAY — BUT ONLY MEN WITH IMAGINATION CAN TAKE IT
To The Man Who Will Settle For Nothing Less Than The Presidency Of His Firm!
So there you go. 8 type of headline, and when they can be used to explode response. I hope you´re already thinking of ways to use these formats for your own purposes.
BTW: Note that most of these proven headlines combines several of the formats. Maybe you should too?
//A Swedish direct response copywriter.
P.S. Feel free to contribute with more headlines and formats below.
P.P.S. I hope you can see past my gramatic errors (I´m working on it) and focus on the value instead.