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Top 7 Tips For Writing Killer Headlines

By Wild Bill Montgomery

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As with good ad copy, all successful headlines are written by following and using specific formulas. Where do you get these formulas you ask? I'll get to that in a moment. First, you must have the information you need to apply to these formulas. This knowledge base is the result of passing information compiled and researched from past advertising campaigns and correctly applying this information to the following formulas in future headlines. This "passing of information" is a continual process, passed on from campaign to campaign, each time extracting what you learned from the campaign before. If you fail to document past successes and failures, you would be writing your headlines on nothing more than a "trial and error" basis.

Since you as the reader and marketer can be from any one of a million different business categories, I will list several different possible formulas and, hopefully, you can find the one that applies to you. If you cannot find one that applies directly to your business, they may still help in your "Headline Writing Skills."

Although having a successful headline is 75% of your goal, you still must have good copy to go with it. But today we are focusing on the headline portion. If you don't have a killer headline, your copy, no matter how good or bad, will never be seen.

Headlines are used to get a direct response from your reader. You are trying to invoke a "snake bite"-like reaction. You either grab him/her or you don't. In writing direct response headlines, you are not trying to build a relationship or bond with your reader. You want his/her attention no matter how much his/her brain is saying to his/her eyes, "Don't stop," you must beat the brain at its own game. You must say it that much louder and be that much more convincing, "STOP, LOOK AT ME!"

O.K., I'm going to give you some well-known, "eye-stopping" headline techniques.

  1. Power Words

    For a reference list of the best Power Words, check
    Power Words are your most important factor in writing headlines.
    Without "Power Words" and "Power Phrases," you have little chance of headline survival.

  2. Testimonials in Headlines

    "I was down to my last cent, but now I'm making $1,000 a week."
    "This is how I became successful in Direct Marketing."
    "I needed extra money, now I'm making more than I ever expected."

  3. Testing Your Reader

    Vanity and superiority are strong marketing and sales tools.
    Testing is but one use of these universal qualities:
    "Pass this test to qualify."
    "Can you pass this Small Business Survival Test?"
    "If you pass this test, your dreams can come true."

  4. One- and Two-Word Headlines are Attention Grabbers!

    Examples of one-worders:

    Examples of two-worders:

  5. The "Don't Buy" Technique

    This headline is effective because you are telling the reader something his/her eyes don't expect to see. Don't Buy?

    "Don't waste your money, Read This Report First."
    "Don't buy..., until you have seen our prices."
    "Don't spend money needlessly. Get The Facts First."

  6. Speak to the Reader, not at the Reader

    "I'll train you to be a success."
    "If you follow my program, I'll help you succeed."
    "They thought I was crazy, after reading this, will you?"

  7. Specific Targeting

    "Attention: Stay at home mothers."
    "To Part-Time workers who want to supplement their income."
    "Bread winners, coming up short lately? We can help you."

    What I have shown you here are the top Headline Writing Techniques, all of which have worked for me in the past. I didn't give this word its due credit above. Do you know the all-time, unbeatable, never-ending winner of headline grabbers? I'll bet you do. Of course, it's the Super Power Word "FREE." This one Power Word is rightly known as the most powerful headline word, past, present and future.


Article Submitted On: April 14, 2000