I remember the first time I first started to read old-school sales letters.
Especially, sales letters written by the *real* old-school greats.
Copywriters like Gary Halbert, Gary Bencivenga, Joseph Sugarman, etc.
For most people, they think it’s weird to geek out over old sales letters selling everything from ham, skincare, or perfume.
I love it.
That’s why, today, I’d like to dive into one of the most critical elements when you’re selling… well, anything.
Specifically, your headline.
Once you get good at writing headlines, your blog posts will get more engagement… more of your emails will be opened… your face-to-face selling will be easier… and your sales letters will sell more of your products.
Said another way:
Writing great headlines is a must if you want to have a successful business.
I’m going to give you lots of examples, so by the end, you’re going to have plenty of tools in your toolbelt to write your next GREAT headline.
But, before we dive in.
I’m probably going to scare off the newbies and template-junkies (which I love to do) with what I’m going to say next.
I am *not* going to give you any generic templates like most other articles do.
My goal is to help you *think* differently.
The world’s best copywriters are great THINKERS, not just great SWIPERS.
So, if you’re not interested in learning the principles behind great headlines and you’re only looking for the next template to swipe, this post is not for you.
With the formalities out of the way… let’s dive in:
The first old-school sales letter I ever read had a fantastic headline:
“The Lazy Man’s Way to Riches.”
There’s so much going on in just these six words.
First, it touches on a core desire of its target market: “Riches.”
Second, it has excellent contrast with the “Lazy” and “Riches,” which taps right into our psychology and makes us pay attention. Why? Because of the general belief, at the time, was that to become rich, you had to work insanely hard. But this guy is talking about getting rich while being a lazy bastard? I mean, how can you *NOT* pay attention? If you can, and if it makes sense, contrast is a powerful concept to use in your headlines.
This headline is one of my favorite headlines of all time.
However, this brings me straight to the next point when it comes to writing world-class headlines:
“The only job of your headline is to get your reader to read the first line.”
I first heard about this idea in the book “The Adweek Copywriting Handbook,” written by the great Joseph Sugarman.
Think about it:
If people don’t read your headline… how are they supposed to read your ad, blog post, or email? And if they don’t read your content… how are they going to buy your product or service?
So, writing a great headline is critical.
A headline that stops them in their tracks and makes them pay attention.
Of course, having a great product is essential, too. But that’s a story for another time.
Let’s get back to how to write a winning headline that converts.
As I mentioned earlier, I’m not going to focus on generic templates. The goal today is to help you think differently so you can write YOUR own headlines in YOUR own voice. Obviously, this takes practice. But the more you do it, the better you’re going to become. For example, you’ll never be a world-class pianist if you never sit in front of a piano. The same thing is true with writing headlines.
I’m all about simplicity.
I like to get the biggest result with the least amount of work – and if people want to classify me as a slacker, so be it.
But, learning how to write great headlines takes hard work and practice.
So even though we’re not focused on templates, I’m still going to give you some ideas for different headlines to makes things simple for you.
But first, let’s look at some examples of different ways to write a good headline.
After that, I’ll show you ten real-world examples of classic headlines.
Here are some examples of different ways to write headlines:
Start your headline with the word “Announcing… ” or “Finally… ” or “New… ” or “How… ” or “Why… ” or “Introducing… ”
Tell a story
Include your offer in your headline. For example, “special offer” or, “free offer” or simply include the price
If you can include a timeframe, a deadline or other time-specific elements, then this will automatically create a natural scarcity
Include the #1 biggest benefit that your prospect cares about the most
Talk about specific mistakes your prospect might be making
Ask a direct question to your reader
If you can’t think of anything to write a simple “How To” headline is an easy way to get things started
Just from this small list alone, you’re already armed to the teeth to write your next best-selling headline.
But let’s go even deeper.
Let’s look at ten specific examples of winning headlines. Again, DO NOT just copy/paste these headlines. Instead, use the principles behind them. Think for yourself. Use the list of ideas you just read. Everybody else is focused on swiping and stealing other people’s stuff and “branding” them as their own… don’t be like that. Focus on “being more so you can become great.”
Before we go into the ten examples, keep the following in mind:
All these headlines worked for THAT particular product, for THAT particular audience, in THAT particular point in time.
So even if you decided to copy and swipe, it probably wouldn’t work.
You’re better off focusing on writing your own stuff and practicing every single day.
By writing blog posts, articles, and emails every day.
With that said, here are ten classic headlines to get your creative juices flowing:
The Secret of Making People Like You
A Little Mistake That Cost a Farmer $3,000 a Year
Are You Ever Tongue-tied at a Party?
How to Win Friends and Influence People
Do You Make These Mistakes in English?
When Doctors “Feel Rotten” This is What They Do
How I Improved My Memory in One Evening
They Laughed When I Sat Down at the Piano – but When I Started to Play!
To Men Who Want to Quit Work Someday
For the Woman Who is Older Than She Looks
This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to writing great headlines that convert.
If you’re ever in doubt about what to write, always go back to the source…
And the source is your market.
You can always find the answer in your market.
Whenever you focus on your market’s hopes, fears, and dreams, writing headlines (or writing in general) will immediately become easier.