Is This Headline So Compelling That It Forces You To Read The Rest Of The Post?

by Claude Whitacre 23 replies
OK, I admit it, that was my attempt to be cute.

Do you want to create ads that really sell?

The one glaring mistake that I see over and over again is that the headlines don't make the reader want to read the rest of the ad.

Here is the main reason your ad fails. Nobody saw it. The headline didn't attract attention.

As a newspaper reader skims over the paper, they are looking at headlines. This is usually done on auto-pilot. Your headline has to trigger a " laser like focus of attention" or the reader really won't see the ad.

Here is another reason that your ad fails...Nobody is reading it. And the reason nobody is reading the ad is that the headline doesn't make you want to read it.

The headline's purpose is to "Grab the reader by the face and make them pay attention" .

But the headline must do more... it must target the person you want to read the ad. Here's an example; Several years ago there was an advertiser that had, as the headline, the word " SEX" in big letters. It did get the reader's attention.

Right after the " headline" , the ad said " Now that I have your attention..." and went on to sell auto parts or something similar. The ad didn't work because it angered the reader.

The person who was attracted by the headline wasn't interested in auto parts, and the auto parts buyer wasn't pulled-in by the headline. A complete waste of advertising money.

It attracted the wrong reader. If it would have just said " AUTO PARTS" it would have worked better.

You want the headline to attract the exact person that would be a buyer of your product...and nobody else.

For example: Let's say you are advertising a new air purifier. You are going to run an ad in the newspaper.

Who would be prime prospects for your product?

Maybe allergy sufferers? People with " pets with allergies" ? (don't laugh. Many people are more concerned about the pet's allergies than their own..or their children's)

How about " For Families With Allergy Sufferers; And Nobody Else" ?

Doesn't the headline set the allergy sufferer apart? No who would read such a headline? Allergy sufferers.

By the way, the word " For" pulls the reader into the ad. It implies that the reader gets something.

Have you ever read a " Personals" ad? Go to any online dating site and you can see all kinds of ads. After you get over the novelty of a dating site, study what they say.

If you read " Wanted; Non-smoking, non-drinking, medical professional with no children. Between the ages of 46 and 49, must love boating and have a German Shepard. Must live less than 20 miles from downtown Chicago, Must be slim and between 6 ft. and 6 ft. 2 inches tall."

Now, the vast majority of people would skim past that ad and not give it a second thought. But what if the ad described you perfectly? Assuming you were single, you would find it hard to resist finding out more. This is called a " message to market match"

Almost every headline I saw at the Workshop tried to be cute. Plays on words, words that rhymed, attempts to be clever...these were the norm.

All clever headlines sell is how clever you are.

How about;

" Allergy sufferers; Finally! Someone Is Listening To You. Indoor Air So Pure, It Will Make Your Nose Tingle!"

If you have allergies, how could you not read that ad?

Remember; Get attention, target a market, be dramatic, and then they will read your ad.
#offline marketing #compelling #forces #headline #post #read #rest
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  • Profile picture of the author ewenmack
    Here's a master at calling out precisely who he wants to speak to,
    Mel Martin.

    Not only golfers but golfers with 2 other traits,
    almost but not quite satisfied and not sure
    of the cause.

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    • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
      Originally Posted by ewenmack View Post

      Here's a master at calling out precisely who he wants to speak to,
      Mel Martin.

      Not only golfers but golfers with 2 other traits,
      almost but not quite satisfied and not sure
      of the cause.

      The mastery of that headline is that it sounds like it should appeal to a very small group of golfers. Any golfer reading that will think "That's me! How did he know?"

      One factor in a masterful headline like this is making it sound like it's written to an individual, but it really applies to just about everyone. They are called Barnum statements.
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      • Profile picture of the author ewenmack
        Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post

        The mastery of that headline is that it sounds like it should appeal to a very small group of golfers. Any golfer reading that will think "That's me! How did he know?"

        One factor in a masterful headline like this is making it sound like it's written by an individual, but it really applies to just about everyone. They are called Barnum statements.
        Interesting, I hadn't heard of that term Barnum Statements before.

        I've heard it called cold reading.

        Of course, it doesn't matter what label we or others put on it
        we instinctively know to use the device because we know
        what's going on...eh?

        Best,
        Ewen
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        • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
          Originally Posted by ewenmack View Post

          Interesting, I hadn't heard of that term Barnum Statements before.

          I've heard it called cold reading.

          Of course, it doesn't matter what label we or others put on it
          we instinctively know to use the device because we know
          what's going on...eh?

          Best,
          Ewen
          Ewen; Barnum statements are what cold readers use to instill a feeling that they have information about you..and insights that they don't really have. Once they ask a few questions, the rube is actually giving them the answers that they feed back.

          When you aren't in the know, it's hard to see what's going on. But once you know..it's painful to watch.

          I know you know that. I just like sounding impressive.

          But yeah, some great headlines are crafted from Barnum statements.
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          • Profile picture of the author ewenmack
            Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post

            Ewen; Barnum statements are what cold readers use to instill a feeling that they have information about you..and insights that they don't really have. Once they ask a few questions, the rube is actually giving them the answers that they feed back.

            When you aren't in the know, it's hard to see what's going on. But once you know..it's painful to watch.

            I know you know that. I just like sounding impressive.

            But yeah, some great headlines are crafted from Barnum statements.
            So P. T. Barnum would come up with universal statements in which one person
            in the crowd would think it was directed at him?

            A few years ago I read a book by Joe Vitale on Barnum and bunk.

            Not sure whether it was in the book or not, however, there's a list of Barnum's...
            just little quote nuggets.

            I don't recall the cold reading lesson, my bad.

            Thanks for that.

            Best,
            Ewen
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            • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
              Originally Posted by ewenmack View Post

              So P. T. Barnum would come up with universal statements in which one person
              in the crowd would think it was directed at him?

              A few years ago I read a book by Joe Vitale on Barnum and bunk.

              Not sure whether it was in the book or not, however, there's a list of Barnum's...
              just little quote nuggets.

              I don't recall the cold reading lesson, my bad.

              Thanks for that.

              Best,
              Ewen
              Not sure where I read about Barnum statements first. I've read a couple books on cold reading. Maybe there.

              Here's the Wiki link that gives the scoop.

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barnum_effect
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              • Profile picture of the author ewenmack
                Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post

                Not sure where I read about Barnum statements first. I've read a couple books on cold reading. Maybe there.

                Here's the Wiki link that gives the scoop.

                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barnum_effect
                Very cool, thank you.

                In retail stores, this tested sentence came out the winner...

                "Are you on your feet a lot?"

                The cashiers would ask the customers in shoe stores.

                Of course most people would say "yes".

                The cashier would then reach under the counter to grab a pair of insoles and say...

                "these are specially made for people who are on their feet a lot,
                shall I add them to your order?"

                Same principle in play there, too.

                Best,
                Ewen
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            • Profile picture of the author SARubin
              Originally Posted by ewenmack View Post


              A few years ago I read a book by Joe Vitale on Barnum and bunk.
              If it's the same book I read, the title was "There's A Customer Born Every Minute" by Joe Vitale.

              It talked about P.T. Barnum being a great showman, and the "humbugs" of the world.


              On a side note... I recently learned that the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is shutting it's doors, after 145 years in business.
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          • Profile picture of the author socialentry
            Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post

            Ewen; Barnum statements are what cold readers use to instill a feeling that they have information about you..and insights that they don't really have. Once they ask a few questions, the rube is actually giving them the answers that they feed back.

            When you aren't in the know, it's hard to see what's going on. But once you know..it's painful to watch.

            I know you know that. I just like sounding impressive.

            But yeah, some great headlines are crafted from Barnum statements.
            Do you use cold reading in sales or in regular daily life?
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            • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
              Originally Posted by socialentry View Post

              Do you use cold reading in sales or in regular daily life?
              Not in personal life, except to illustrate a point.

              I used to in selling a few times, but there are better ways to make sales.

              And it was inherently taking advantage of a customer's ignorance and superstitions.

              Not my best moments.
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              • Profile picture of the author SARubin
                Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post

                Not in personal life, except to illustrate a point.

                I used to in selling a few times, but there are better ways to make sales.

                And it was inherently taking advantage of a customer's ignorance and superstitions.

                Not my best moments.
                Well, Claude, I'm glad you chose to come back over to the light side, and use your powers for good

                I personally went through a phase of learning manipulation techniques, (overt and covert) many years ago. Thought it would help my career, but it didn't take long before I started feeling a little "unclean."

                Still glad I learned them though, so I would recognize when someone was trying to use them against me.
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              • Profile picture of the author quadagon
                Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post

                Not in personal life, except to illustrate a point.

                I used to in selling a few times, but there are better ways to make sales.

                And it was inherently taking advantage of a customer's ignorance and superstitions.

                Not my best moments.
                I think the principals that are learnt from cold reading can be transferred to sales without taking advantage of a customer. At the heart of these principals its all about active listening, rapport building and matching a need/want.

                Is there really much difference between a win/win statement and a trial close?

                Most of the best sales people automatically use some of the principals anyway without knowing they are used in cold reading.

                I want to say that there is a line when manipulating emotions but even Zig Ziglar says selling is a transfer of feeling.

                Where I get uncomfortable is when you see the likes of lifestyle gurus and televangelists manipulating people into heightened states in order to sell. Derren Brown's TV show miracles for sale gives a great dissection of the techniques.

                That said as a salesman its hard to take any moral highground against manipulation (although I'd like to think I manipulate for the customers good and not just my own).

                So for me, learn and understand the techniques as they give great insight into human psychology - just don't tell someone the spirit of their granny said they should buy it.
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                • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
                  Originally Posted by quadagon View Post

                  I think the principals that are learnt from cold reading can be transferred to sales without taking advantage of a customer. At the heart of these principals its all about active listening, rapport building and matching a need/want.

                  Is there really much difference between a win/win statement and a trial close?

                  Most of the best sales people automatically use some of the principals anyway without knowing they are used in cold reading.

                  I want to say that there is a line when manipulating emotions but even Zig Ziglar says selling is a transfer of feeling.

                  Where I get uncomfortable is when you see the likes of lifestyle gurus and televangelists manipulating people into heightened states in order to sell. Derren Brown's TV show miracles for sale gives a great dissection of the techniques.

                  That said as a salesman its hard to take any moral highground against manipulation (although I'd like to think I manipulate for the customers good and not just my own).

                  So for me, learn and understand the techniques as they give great insight into human psychology - just don't tell someone the spirit of their granny said they should buy it.
                  My bar was pretty low. And in the few instances where I crossed my own personal "line" it was by playing on someone's superstitions to get the sale....and this was to people that absolutely had no business buying my product.

                  In the movie The Big Kahuna (Must see if you are in sales) Danny DeVito's character says something like "If you are trying to steer a conversation, it's a pitch".

                  So in a way, all selling is manipulation. But you can manipulate without lying...without misrepresenting....without cheating.

                  Derren Brown is being interviewed by Richard Dawkins. A revealing interview, I think.



                  Added later; In 1981 or 1982 I bought the book by Tom Hopkins How To Master The Art Of Selling and read it in a vacation weekend. What was interesting to me was that I was already doing most of what he taught. But he gave these techniques names, and in many cases gave me better language to use.
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    • Profile picture of the author SARubin
      Awesome example here Ewen. Thank you for this.

      Not only the headline, but the bullet points and layout are great.

      I'm going to study this piece for a little while. It's a little chopped off at the bottom though. Do you happen to know where I can find the whole ad, to look at?


      Originally Posted by ewenmack View Post

      Here's a master at calling out precisely who he wants to speak to,
      Mel Martin.

      Not only golfers but golfers with 2 other traits,
      almost but not quite satisfied and not sure
      of the cause.

      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[11050867].message }}
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      SARubin - Direct Response Copywriter / Advertising and Marketing Aficionado

  • Profile picture of the author Joyce Birmingham
    I hear you. I studied copywriting and it is indeed about letting the customer know straight away that you have something they need or want or both. It's never about you!
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  • Profile picture of the author Kurt
    If we use the AIDA formula to describe four elements of a sales message, IMO the two a's "attention" (headline) and "action" (call to action) are by far the most important. Get people's attention and get them to take action.

    These two elements are used in classified ads, PPC ads, email subject lines, Youtube video titles and descriptions and more.

    And not only are these two elements the most important IMO, they are the easiest to learn and essential for marketing online and off.
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  • Profile picture of the author TMets5
    Good points...the sales copy may be the greatest ever but without a captivating headline very few will proceed. Of course you to get your ad in front of the right market
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  • Profile picture of the author ewenmack
    A young student of mine read 3 posts of mine here and took
    his new powers to write an ad for a car parts yard to run
    in their local newspaper.

    The advertiser was already running ads in the paper.

    So the student nailed calling out who the reader he wanted to reach
    [it was totally on his brief research without talking to client].

    It was taxi drivers.

    He figured they clock up the biggest mileage.

    The next step was what hot buttons he could hammer.

    He chose they probably suspect the mechanics don't replace parts or if they do,
    they are second hand because there are a lot of potholes in his community
    therefore need repairs often.

    Naming the enemy and what they suspect about them confirmed by you
    is used by the masters of political fundraising.

    And it worked so well the parts guy would have sold more parts if he had them in stock!

    And the crazy thing was the taxi drivers would start out ranting about their mechanics!

    Lol.

    They weren't asking about the price like customers previously would.

    He told me this after the result, I had no direct input in writing the ad.

    Just shows the power of calling out who you want to speak to
    and hitting the right hot buttons.

    Best,
    Ewen
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  • Profile picture of the author Peter Lessard
    I like to know why people do what they do.

    In this case we are discussing business owners, advertisers, marketers writing clever ads rather than targeted ads.

    There is certainly a portion of these people that just don't know what their doing
    but
    sadly a huge portion of this group has read or been told to target in their headlines
    yet they don't...

    Why?

    Fear!

    Too afraid to exclude anyone from their great offer.
    Too afraid to shrink the pool of prospects straight off.
    Too afraid to get the targeting wrong.
    Why send one targeted missile they think... What if they miss.

    "Perhaps if we spray the target with buckshot?"
    Great idea, you will definitely hit the target, sadly with buckshot there will be little to no penetration.

    Sadly more often than not when things are being done wrong it has zero to do with knowledge and always goes back to the basic human emotions.
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    • Profile picture of the author SARubin
      Good points.

      Some people don't seem to understand that NOT everybody is their target market.

      No matter what we're selling, not everyone is interested in buying.
      And when you try to appeal to everyone, you end up with a watered down message that doesn't strongly resonate with anyone.

      I guess there's something to be said for "casting a wide net?" but I'm not sure what that "something" is.


      Originally Posted by Peter Lessard View Post


      Too afraid to exclude anyone from their great offer.
      Too afraid to shrink the pool of prospects straight off.
      Too afraid to get the targeting wrong.
      Why send one targeted missile they think... What if they miss.

      "Perhaps if we spray the target with buckshot?"
      Great idea, you will definitely hit the target, sadly with buckshot there will be little to no penetration.
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    • Profile picture of the author ewenmack
      Originally Posted by Peter Lessard View Post

      I like to know why people do what they do.

      In this case we are discussing business owners, advertisers, marketers writing clever ads rather than targeted ads.

      There is certainly a portion of these people that just don't know what their doing
      but
      sadly a huge portion of this group has read or been told to target in their headlines
      yet they don't...

      Why?

      Fear!

      Too afraid to exclude anyone from their great offer.
      Too afraid to shrink the pool of prospects straight off.
      Too afraid to get the targeting wrong.
      Why send one targeted missile they think... What if they miss.

      "Perhaps if we spray the target with buckshot?"
      Great idea, you will definitely hit the target, sadly with buckshot there will be little to no penetration.

      Sadly more often than not when things are being done wrong it has zero to do with knowledge and always goes back to the basic human emotions.
      A new ad writer learned this and hot buttons of that group from 2 of my posts went on sell out of parts at a car parts yard from 1 ad!

      He just called out taxi drivers.

      They came in or phoned ranting about being ripped off by mechanics [set up] and never discussed part prices!

      Another example selling mattresses.

      Target: Those that have just returned from vacation.

      2 out 2 marketers I've spoken to about this
      have gone out and bought beds because their partner couldn't stand trying to sleep in their now bad bed after experiencing a good bed in hotels.

      Best,
      Ewen
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  • Profile picture of the author zoro
    I am currently wanting target local health service providers through testing with some FB and Google Ads.

    Having read this thread with interest, I crafted the following draft headline:-

    "For Health Service Providers in City who want more clients from online website reach and who can afford $50 p/m".

    I will be pleased for your thoughts and/or suggestions re this type of headling. Thanks.
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