The Best Copywriting headline EVER?

18 replies
Hi Warriors,

I'm new to this forum and quite new to copywriting, so forgive me if this question has been asked before...

But I was wondering what is THE best headline ever written in your opinion for a sales letter?

I'm currently reading a book by Dan Kennedy and a strong headline is clearly extremely important to the success of an offer (as well as a great product, obviously)

I'll be very interested to hear your opinions as experienced copywriters of the best headline that really did it for you... was it by a world famous copy writer? Or was it one you wrote yourself?

I look forward to hearing them...

Thanks guys!
#copywriting #headline
  • Profile picture of the author Loren Woirhaye
    The understanding of how classically effective headlines
    were written has got pretty warped on the internet. These
    days we see a lot of bloated headlines - equivalent to
    trying to get a date with a passing girl by boasting at
    rapid-fire speed of your macho manliness before she
    passes out of earshot.

    Hardly seductive, yet very common - and most of the less
    experienced copywriters seem to write 'em this way.

    A good headline is often boiled-down like a Bolognese,
    the process is one of starting with the most compelling
    idea or concept or benefit that is going to attract the
    interest of the target reader. Often pithy and unshowy
    works. ie:

    "Corns?"

    I've never had 'em but I'm sure if I did I'd remember that
    ad and check out the offer. The "corns?" ad is actually
    what is known a cultural "meme" at this point, it's so
    familiar.

    If you get familiar with Robert Collier's stuff, and Drayton
    Bird's too, you'll see a tendency to not emphasize headlines
    nearly so much as the concept of writing for the reader and
    making a pertinent, attractive offer. The offer usually falls
    at the end of the letter or ad, while the headline, being at
    the top, has the real purpose of arresting attention, not
    usually selling the product.

    There are exceptions, particularly with price/value propositions,
    ie. "Bananas .59/lb", which, if you like bananas and
    are hungry might get your attention and get you to look
    at the product with intent to buy.

    My favorite headlines are classic artful ones of guys like
    Clyde Bedell, whose classic ad David Ogilvy swiped to write
    "At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new
    Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock."
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    • Profile picture of the author Ricci Cox
      Originally Posted by Loren Woirhaye View Post

      The understanding of how classically effective headlines were written has got pretty warped on the internet. These days we see a lot of bloated headlines - equivalent to
      trying to get a date with a passing girl by boasting at
      rapid-fire speed of your macho manliness before she
      passes out of earshot.

      Hardly seductive, yet very common - and most of the less
      experienced copywriters seem to write 'em this way.
      Brilliant. I love that quote!

      I agree... Even though I'm very new to copywriting, the best sales letters/headlines that I have read so far have come from the older generation... Dan Kennedy, Ted Nicholas, etc. They seem to be much more thought out and more 'gentle' in their approach.

      I love that Rolls Royce headline too - I have heard many copywriters refer to that headline.

      I also love the old Charles Atlas ads. Are you familiar with them? I think they're brilliant. Classic Ads in my opinion...
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  • Profile picture of the author Paul Hancox
    Hey Ricci

    That's a difficult question, because "best" is subjective. The three main functions of a headline are (a) to get (or keep) a reader's attention (depending on where the reader came from), (b) to get them to read the next sentence, and (c) to demonstrate relevance.

    I tend to like headlines that make it almost irresistible to ignore, such as...

    Why Some Foods "Explode" In Your Stomach

    ... that one goes back to the 1950's, but it's hard to ignore the idea of anything exploding in our stomach, don't you think?

    My current favorite is over at CatchHimAndKeepHim.com (a dating product for women), but it's also one of the longest I've seen:

    Could It Really Be This EASY To
    Create A Lasting Connection
    With A Man That Goes Far
    BEYOND "Physical" Attraction...
    And Sparks A Deep Emotional
    Bond Inside Him... To Where
    He Feels Literally Addicted To
    Being With You, And ONLY YOU, Forever?


    I think the guy who wrote it is connected with David DeAngelo (aka Eben Pagan). Now, I'm not the target audience for the above product... but if you put yourself into the shoes of a single woman, that, I imagine, would be a VERY irresistible headline!

    I don't normally like long headlines, but that one seems to push the target audience's "hot buttons" very nicely.
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  • Profile picture of the author Ricci Cox
    Hey Paul,

    Wow - the headline 'Why Some Foods "Explode" In Your Stomach' certainly does grab your attention doesn't it? I would certainly read that.

    And I see what you mean about the dating website headline. I can't imagine a single women alive, who would be able to resist that headline.

    It certainly ruins the theory I read from a TOP copywriter - that all headlines should be 17 words or less!
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  • Profile picture of the author Jo_Shua
    I am partial to headlines that have an odd disconnect or which sparks an extreme intrigued interest regardless of whether you were in search of the product or not... After all, the main goal of your headline is to get the prospect to read that first sentence. (Leave the rest of the copy to sell the offer.)

    Because, after reading the amazing story which does connect the headline (in an odd way) or shines light on the intriguing headline (like the food exploding in your stomach) you just may find yourself needing what is being offered.

    Short and to the punch, but there are times when you will find a nice headline which breaks that unspoken rule of 17... Headlines such as the one Paul mentioned.

    In my mind, it matters not how long the headline is as long as it creates enough curiosity to get the prospect to actually begin to read your copy. But, I mostly like short and to the punch headlines.

    A favorite? Well, I was recently browsing Lawrence Bernstein's blog ( Info Marketing Blog | Direct Response Marketing | Copywriting ) and I ran across an excellent piece of ad copy: How To Launch An Ad Agency: Find The Man!

    The headline goes...

    There is only one solution to an advertising problem:
    Find The Man!

    Of course, my typing it does not do it justice. You just have to see the complete ad to get the feel of that headline. Not to mention, that piece of copy is brilliantly crafted! If I was a corporation looking for a new ad agency back in 1924 I would certainly be giving these guys a call.

    [edit]
    I did not realize it before, but I have a headline which is similar to that classic one... AND I wrote it before I found that blog post.

    It goes:

    There is only one question to ask when hiring a ghostwriter...

    Greasy Over-Cooked Burger OR Juicy Tender New York Strip Steak?

    Okay, not exactly the same... but it hits on similar principles as the 'Find The Man!' headline did, and the rest of the copy worked with that quirky theme.

    It has brought me in countless of ghostwriting clients AND has secured me copywriting jobs (even when at the time I wrote it I did not intend to do copywriting for clients).

    Goes to show... Classic is the new modern! Never out of style
    [/edit]
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  • Profile picture of the author CodyTemke
    Lol, these are good.. i really like the " Why some foods explode in your stomach"
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      • Profile picture of the author Daniel Sanchez
        I still like mine:

        "I can't believe that happened!!!
        He almost freaking killed you!!!
        and that's when I smiled
        and revealed to him the real secret to ....

        and so on. I just like the start...rest of it makes sense in the context of the product but I don't care...I just like the "He almost freaking killed you!!!!" part.

        I still need work. I still like it cause it's mine so :p

        I know it's not the best but it's mine and I love it....

        and if you steal it well then...

        I'll probably come over to your house and ....



        I hope one day I do have headlines that people say "that's my favorite headline" and post in forums.

        I might as well get the ball rolling though.

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      • Profile picture of the author Jo_Shua
        Originally Posted by MarkAndrews IMCopywriting View Post

        "If You See Sid, Tell Him!"

        British Gas advert from 1986 to sell shares in the company.

        More information can be found here...

        Advertising Archives


        Tell 'em what... tell 'em what? I am eager to know!
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        • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
          As Paul said, it's subjective.

          One of my all-time favorite headlines is,

          The 23-Cent LIFE-SAVER
          Heart Surgeons
          NEVER TELL YOU ABOUT!


          It has specificity, a big benefit, and uses the "common enemy" trigger.

          Alex
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          • Profile picture of the author Daniel Sanchez
            Originally Posted by Alex Cohen View Post

            As Paul said, it's subjective.

            One of my all-time favorite headlines is,

            The 23-Cent LIFE-SAVER
            Heart Surgeons
            NEVER TELL YOU ABOUT!

            It has specificity, a big benefit, and uses the "common enemy" trigger.

            Alex
            Makepeace right? That's a classic! I just love that headline.
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            • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
              Originally Posted by Danniboy View Post

              Makepeace right? That's a classic! I just love that headline.
              Yes!

              Here's another one of my favorites. This one from Halbert ...

              "High School Student Loses Almost 600 Pounds
              And Now Devotes His Life
              To Helping Others Get Skinny!"

              I like this one because it tells the story of a person who went from tragedy to triumph and generates huge curiosity.

              Alex
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    • Profile picture of the author LandoFormosa
      Originally Posted by CodyTemke View Post

      Lol, these are good.. i really like the " Why some foods explode in your stomach"
      oh yeah, that is fancy
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  • Profile picture of the author Cryp
    "Generous Creative Businessman Wants To Find A Hot Sexy Woman With A Good Sense of Humor"

    Love this Halbert classic. It snipes at a crowd, makes them curious and throws them down a slippery slide. Oh and it tickles the greed glands.

    "Discover the Fortune That Lies Hidden In Your Salary"

    Fortune. Hidden. Curiosity builds ... Plus it has broad appeal

    "Do You Close The Bathroom Door When You Are The Only One Home?"

    Builds curiosity, intrigue, a bit of mystery and if you do close the bathroom door when your the only one home you are going to read further - Guaranteed

    "Do You Make These Mistakes In English?"

    This famous headline was a dm control package for a very long time. One of my favorites because it's so versatile.

    Okay I'm getting ahead of myself, but as you can see the best headlines builds massive CURIOSITY. Also, newsworthy headlines pull more, because interesting editorial is much more likely to get read than advertising.
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    • Profile picture of the author Mr. Subtle
      Originally Posted by Cryp View Post

      ... but as you can see the best headlines builds massive CURIOSITY. Also, newsworthy headlines pull more, because interesting editorial is much more likely to get read than advertising.





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  • Profile picture of the author ImportEyedea
    How Come We Missed You At the Bank This Week?
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  • Profile picture of the author Penworthington
    One of the reasons why it is difficult to determine the 'best' headline is because headline's aren't about being 'best', but 'most effective'. Headlines are only effective if they grab the attention of the intended audience. it's relatively easy to grab attention, but grabbing the attention of the people you're trying to target is more important.

    One of the rules I tend to abide by is to never include references to myself, since it's less likely that people are interested in my self absorbed musings than in something which appears to speak directly to them.
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