How to write the perfect headline
It’s sunrise here in on the Gulf Coast of Florida…
You should see the golden glow around my shiny bald head. Majestic.
I’m on the laptop in my former home office (still in a shambles of transformation to the new office) with Focus@Will cooling my beta and driving the alpha waves where the good stuff lives.
So, let’s dive in and solve one the great mysteries surrounding high-converting copy: headline writing.
Allow me to bust a common myth that trips up a lot of copywriters and biz owners…
… and then I’ll give you a cool exercise for coming up with attention-grabbing headlines that flow from your fingers with the grace of a seasoned concert pianist.
Here’s the myth: You’ve heard the experts say, “80% of your advertisement’s success rides on the headline” and…
“without a good headline the rest of the ad will be ignored”… and yada, yada, yada…
We hear that and think, “Yeah, that makes sense. I mean look, the headline is right there at the top of the page… in that big ol’ font… and whoa, they made it bright red, too… it must be really important.”
So, we dive right into writing the perfect headline. Because, hey, once that’s all nice and tight…
“I’ll be 80% done with the copy… the rest will be easy to “fill in”.
We sit down with a hot cup of coffee and a clean sheet of paper or blank computer screen and we wait… and wait… and wait… for the magic headline genie to appear before us…
… and grant our wish of a perfectly worded and super witty headline.
Oddly, she never shows. Probably covering a shift for the Tooth Fairy again (that girl is ALWAYS flaking.)
“No worries,” says we… “I’ll just go have a look at some good headlines I’ve seen other people using.” That’ll prime the creative juice pump.
Oh, wait! Even better…
You’ve got that whole “swipe file” of Killer Headlines some dude posted in a Facebook group.
Boomshakalaka! Just go clip a winner from there. “Tsss, this’ll be EZ, yo.”
So you logon to Facebook looking for the file… somehow end up watching all “Top 42 Celebrity Nip Slip” videos…
… forget all about the headline – and the ad – and go to bed that night wondering why copywriting is “so friggin’ hard!”
(Yes, I’ve been listening to you.)
OK, onto the fix…
Concerning the Big Myth that headlines account for 80% of the success of your ad.
Look, that was a standard law back in the day when print ad geniuses people like John Caples and David Ogilvy were preaching those things… but, dare I say…
… It is no longer a universal law here in the digital age.
I’ve seen tons of landing pages (with good offers) survive weak headlines and even others thrive with no headline at all.
Does that mean you should give up on headlines? Not at all. It just means you can stop getting so hung up on writing the perfect headline.
In fact, my advice is to forget about headlines altogether UNTIL you are finished with the rest of the copy.
The simple reality is, some parts of the ad ARE much easier to write. They’re the parts you know (or should know since it’s your product, or a product you believe in enough to promote) like…
– who you are
– the problem you had
– how you solved the problem for yourself
– how it’s worked for other people, too
– the features and benefits of the product
Those things are easy to write because you’ve lived through the struggle, created the solution and are now presenting it to the world (or your client has if you’re a freelancer).
So start with all those elements of the ad that don’t require you to be creative or persuasive… only clear and honest.
That is the true 80% of your ad’s success right there.
And once you’ve written the “easy parts” you’ll find that the headlines flow naturally…
… that you can use formulas and templates and yes, even swipe files for inspiration… because you’ll know exactly what your product should promise.
Without relying on a bunch of smarmy hype, over-the-top claims or trying to close the deal in one long rambling belch of hyperbole.
To make this even easier… I want to give you my personal follow-along worksheet for pumping out a quick and dirty first draft of your sales copy.
I call it the Question Authority Sales Copy Starter…
It’s a zero-friction method for getting all the good stuff about your product (you know, the things that make people line up to BUY it!). Once you have that down and laid out in front of you, writing things like bullets and headlines just flow naturally. No stress.
You can get the Question Authority worksheets and the training video that goes along with it inside of Copy Chief. A perfect excuse to start your free 7-day trial today.
P.S. Here’s another insider secret pro copywriters live by: Nobody Writes Alone! Pros always rely on a trusted group of writers and business owners who will give honest and unbiased feedback on their sales copy. Do this before you risk wasting time and money driving traffic to find out your headline or other parts of the ad are off the mark.
I’m assembling a group of pro copywriters and likeminded biz owners who will help each other (in a safe, private environment) improve their copy and conversions. If you’re interested in joining us, go to copychief.com/special and take advantage of the 7-day free trail. This offer goes away and the price goes up on November first, so don’t wait.