How to Instantly Double the Response of Any Ad,
Letter or Web Promotion
Masters of marketing know a secret
that most business people don't. I'm going to share it with you now: You
can go from losing money to making money - sometimes, a *lot* of money -
just by changing a few words.
What words are those? The first words... in any letter, ad or Web page. The
words that make up the headline.
Recently I was speaking to a business group about writing killer copy, and
to make my point, I took that day's edition of USA Today and covered up all
the headlines on the front page with inch-wide white correction tape. I asked
them what was wrong with the newspaper.
"No headlines!" they blurted out, almost all at once.
"Then why," I asked, "do so many of your ads not have headlines?"
It's a fact: We have been conditioned to decide what to read based on the
effect a few choice words have on our thoughts and our feelings. With books,
it's often the title. With articles in the newspaper, it's the words in a
headline. With a magazine on the newsstand, it's the headlines on the cover.
Whether you know it or not, we decide whether or not to read ads, letters
and Web pages the same way.
So, if that's the case, how do you write headlines to make people want to
read your copy, and get interested in doing business with you?
Make your headline create a vivid picture and/or stimulate a strong feeling.
In your business, many of your conversations are logical and factual. That's
the nature of business - and to do otherwise would be considered
However, about the worst thing you can do for your promotion is to have a
strictly factual, logical headline at the top of your Web page, letter, ad,
flyer or postcard. Oh yes, the headline has to be believable and make sense.
And what your headline says has to be supported by logic and facts later
in your promotion.
But remember that the purpose of your killer copy headline is to stir the
emotions of your prospect in the direction of buying what you have to sell...
and to get your prospect interested in reading what comes next in your copy.
Here's an example for a hypothetical product that helps children do better
First, an ineffective headline:
Children who don't do well at school will have many problems later on in
Now, a more effective headline:
"Daddy! Daddy! I got straight A's!" he said proudly. Suddenly my son's future
was looking much brighter...
Notice how the first headline states a fact but does not stir emotions in
a big way. The second headline, using the same number of words (17), conveys
1) excitement 2) pride 3) hope for the future, and it also creates a beautiful
scene in the reader's mind of a happy parent-child situation.
Action: When you are preparing or revising a promotion, take the time you
need, or get the help you need, to write a great headline that creates a
vivid picture and stimulates strong feelings in the mind of your prospect.
Use headlines that make your prospect instantly understand your most important
One of my favorite pieces of advertising is a headline (and an old slogan)
for a plumbing service. I'm not that big on plumbing, personally - it's the
kind of thing you wish would work perfectly all the time so you never have
to think about it!
Why, then, am I so fond of an old plumbing headline? Because it's a great
example of making your prospect instantly aware of the benefit of your service.
The company is Roto-Rooter.
The headline is as follows:
Call Roto-Rooter - that's the name - And away go troubles, down the drain!
Wow - is that perfection in a couple of lines, or what? You get 1) a call
to action 2) company identification and 3) a visual description of the benefit.
That's hard to beat! If you've ever had a stopped-up drain, you know exactly
why this would be of benefit to you!
Killer Copy Point: Show your headline to people who are
unfamiliar with your product and company, but who would be good prospects
for what you are selling. See how slowly or quickly they understand what
you are saying - especially, what would be the benefit to them. Keep rewriting
your headline until these people instantly "get it!"
Make your headline pass the "Shortcut Test"
Imagine all you were allowed to do was run your headline plus a toll-free
number... as a classified ad. Ask yourself this question: Would it generate
inquiries for you in that form?
I'll give you an example from my own business. I'm taking the headline and
subheadline from a long-copy print promotion for my product called Killer
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For years, sales copywriting experts have quietly made millions with these
little-known secrets. Now you can use this information yourself. Call (000)
I used this example for purposes of illustration. Read it again, and ask
yourself if these words alone, printed in the right location, wouldn't prompt
qualified prospects to call for more information?
Killer Copy Point: Put your headline and subheadline through the Shortcut
Test. Make sure that these words alone plus a toll-free number are likely
to generate a response from qualified prospects.
The art of writing headlines is a special skill well worth the time and effort
it takes to develop. There are many known statistics in direct marketing
that bear repeating here:
· Five times as many people read the headline as read the ad or letter.
· Changes in headlines have produced documented increases in sales of
200%, 500% and, in one extreme case, 1,850% more sales!
· It's a good idea to write 15 or 20 headlines for your letter or ad,
and use the "leftover" headlines as part of the selling copy itself.
Become a student of headlines and a connoisseur of great headlines. Collect
them, think about them, practice writing them. The reward for your efforts
will show up every time you get another order or inquiry that you never would
have gotten if you didn't make the effort!
About the Author:
(c) 2000 David Garfinkel. All rights reserved. David Garfinkel is widely
recognized by many "marketing gurus" as their secret weapon. That is, he
is known as "The World's Greatest Copywriting Coach"; because, he can, like
no other, teach you how to turn words into cash. David is also the author
and narrator of
Copy Tactics, the Web's first and only totally interactive audio/visual
learning system for writing killer sales copy.