Seven Proven Headline Formulas
Seven Proven Headline Formulas

My favorites are numbers 1 & 2, they’re what I’ve used in most of my own copywriting.

1. Make a bold statement. Sales copy often falls flat because it fails to tell the reader what to do. This headline type allows you to be direct, provide a benefit, and take a commanding posture simultaneously. It’s not conversational, it’s dictatorial — but in an acceptable way that readers have come to expect in clear writing.

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2. Pose a provocative question. Asking a question directly involves your reader. However, your question cannot be random or clever. It must relate directly and clearly to the major benefit of the product. It must also prod the reader to answer “yes” or at least “I’m not sure, but I want to know more.”

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3. Say it simply and directly. The direct headline gets right to the point. No cleverness. No jokes. No wordplay. It works particularly well with strong offers, recognized brand names, and product or service types with which the reader is familiar.

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4. State the big benefit. One of the first techniques you should always explore is transforming your major benefit into a headline. After all, your number one selling point should be up front. It stands the best chance of selecting the right audience and preparing them to respond. Plus, if they read nothing else, they have at least seen the best selling point you have to offer. If you have trouble writing this kind of headline, it’s a sure sign you need to think a bit more about your product or service.

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5. Appeal to the “how-to” instinct. The how-to headline appeals to the need most of us have to improve ourselves or our lives in some way. The secret here is to focus on a need or want and promise to fulfill that need or want. Be careful, though. You want to speak to the underlying motivation! To write a how-to headline, begin with the words “How to” or “How” then immediately fill in the benefit. The how-to must highlight the benefit or final result, not the process itself. Look at this example:

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6. Offer useful information. Most people don’t want information. I know you’ve been taught that content is King, and it’s true. Here’s the thing… People are drowning in facts. What people really want is a sense of order and predictability in their lives. We want to feel a sense of power over our world. Therefore, we seek out the secrets, tips, hints, laws, rules, and systems that promise to help us gain control and make sense of things. Notice how these headlines promise information that does just this.

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7. Relay an honest, enthusiastic testimonial. A testimonial headline can do two things for you. First, it presents your reader with a third party endorsement of your product or service. Second, it capitalizes on the fact that people like to know what other people say.

“This diet program worked for me. It can work for you, too!”
“It’s the first book on personal finance that really made sense to me.”

A variation of this strategy is to write a headline in the first person and put quotation marks around it. This “virtual testimonial” gives you a more interesting headline and improves readership.