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How to Write Head-Turning Headlines – Part 1 (of 3)

If You

Send Out Sales Emails,

Mail Direct-Response Letters, or

Create Sales Funnels…

…Then You Know the Importance of Headlines

But If You’re Not Following

Time-Tested Principles

Like the 80/20 Rule,

Your Headlines Are Not Delivering

Like They Should

“On average, five times as many people read the headline
as read the body copy. When you have written your headline,
you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”

- David Ogilvy, Confessions of an Advertising Man

Today, experienced adfolks who made their living before the Internet by writing direct response sales letters still swear by concepts made famous by David Ogilvy and his peers.

Unfortunately, less experienced adfolks don’t get it.

They sell you digital marketing jargon and slick it up with images and goo-roo lingo. They also think that cute #hashtags, page views, LIKES, and clickthrough rates are more important than sales.

If you’re smart, you’ll ignore those charlatans.

If you’re smarter, you’ll realize something…

Although the media delivering the message have changed, the principles of persuasive copywriting and psychology have not.

People are driven by the same things they’ve always been driven by…

And if you don’t master the principles of marketing and copywriting, you’ll be driven out of business.

SEO Principles Before SEO Was a Gleam in Google’s Eye

Ogilvy was ahead of his time in many ways.

One often-overlooked way is his belief in the concept of keywords or SEO decades before they became catchphrases. For example, in Confessions of an Advertising Man, Ogilvy states that a headline must catch the reader’s attention.

Of course, that’s not rocket science. However, how he got the reader’s attention was, at the time, revolutionary… And today you know it as SEO.

Here’s what Ogilvy insisted – if you’re selling a membership in an investment advisory club, the headline must mention INVESTMENT ADVISORY CLUB. He called it the “ticket on the meat”. It commands your attention and tells you exactly the type of meat you’re buying.

If investors and traders are your target, then INVESTORS and TRADERS must be in your headline.

If you’re targeting single mothers, SINGLE MOTHERS must be there. If you’re selling a way to reduce the symptoms and itching of eczema, put MANAGING ECZEMA in the headline.

Let’s look at 2 headlines:

1.    The Top 10 Ways Bankers Waste Your Money – And How You Can Avoid This

2.   These 17 Sensational Sight Savers Help Halt and Even Improve Vision Loss

It’s easy to know whom each ad is targeting. It’s also easy to see that:

·      #1 reveals a solution to a widespread banking issue

·      #2 describes specific vision-benefiting techniques

So… ask yourself these questions – do your headlines:

·      Appeal to the prospect’s ego?

·      Inject new information?

·      Use power words?

Your reader is interested only in him- or herself, so make it appealing.

Humans have an innate desire to learn new things, so when you talk about news – i.e., something “NEW” – you are using the most powerful word possible.

But that’s not the only word that rouses your reader. Here are 11 more:

·      You

·      Easy

·      Quick

·      Amazing

·      How to

·      Now

·      Announcing

·      Last chance

·      LOVE

·      FRIEND

·      IMPROVE

A few other Ogilvy-inspired headline principles, if followed, also bring success:

·      Include the product or brand name, if possible

·      Don’t self-indulge with cute, creative, or funny just for the hell of it

·      Length matters

While featuring one’s product or brand name sometimes doesn’t work, all efforts to include it should be made.

If you’re trying to win awards for creativity, go to art school. If you want to make money, stick to your guns and satisfy your prospect’s desires in ways that make him or her open up, not laugh.

There is much debate about the importance of length, but one thing is undebatable:

To hit all the power spots that your prospect is begging for, your headline must be:

·      Clear

·      Concise

·      Powerful

But it’s never quite that black and white.

Longer Is Better – But Not without Power or Rhythm

The advent of online marketing has altered one perspective on headlines from the early days of direct response copywriting:

Does length really matter?

When print was king, 8 was usually more than enough.

It’s true.

Research shows that the vast majority of the most successful print ads of all time are no longer than 8 words.

And while 8 is still a good length, rhythm, and power to rouse the reader, it’s become less alluring because of the many exceptions to this standard.

Sometimes 3 to 4 hit the spot as desired…

More often than not, however, it’s not enough. It misses the triggers that open your prospect up.

Therefore, the general rule of thumb on length is this:

As long as necessary to stir the juices and compel action…

But not too long that it’s a purposeless distraction…

Or too short that you miss the hotspots.

Bottom line?

Don’t waste words.

And don’t ruin the rhythm that a great headline innately has to potentially rock your reader’s world.

Old Principles Don’t Die – But If You Ignore Them, Your Business Might…

Write the shortest, most effective headline possible that convincingly conveys a unique benefit to the reader so that they read the body of your letter—and, ultimately, open up to you.

It’s not always easy, but it’s crucial.

To find out how, go to Part 2 of this 3-part trilogy.


Need a headline? Follow the principle outlined above - and the ones to come. If you're not ready for that challenge, or you simply want a pro to do it, contact us today. Visit us online (http://www.damalacopywriting.com) or call us at 323.438.9939.