Six Classic Selling Headlines and Why They Made a Lot of Money!

6 Good Headlines and Why They Made a Lot of Money!I was paging through one of my favorite copywriting books this week. First published in 1962 and written by Victor O. Schwab, it’s called, How to Write a Good Advertisement.

There’s a chapter in the book called, “100 Good Headlines and Why They Were so Profitable”—for the sake of time, I decided to pull six of the headlines and showcase them for this post.

What I love about old headlines is that you can use their basic structure, edit them to fit your needs, and voilà …you have a great headline that gets attention. Don’t forget that many of these were successfully used before the early 1960’s.

Headline #1: You Can Laugh at Money Worries—If You Follow This Simple Plan

In my opinion, this one could still work “as is” today, but you could also replace “Money Worries” with “credit card debt”, “bankruptcy”, “student loan debt”, “the IRS”…you get the picture.

According to Schwab, this headline worked because most people want to be able to make their financial problems vanish.

Headline #2: How to Win Friends and Influence People

According to Schwab’s book, this headline sold millions of copies of Dale Carnegie’s book (first published in 1936) of the same name, How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Most likely it is the words, “How to” that grab the reader’s attention because they assume everything they need to know to be well-liked by people and more popular amongst them is in this book—and who doesn’t want that?

Headline #3: How a New Discovery Made a Plain Girl Beautiful

According to Schwab, this headline had mass appeal simply because there are more average-looking girls than beautiful ones…and almost all of them would like to improve their looks.

Here’s an updated version I wrote for today’s audience using the word “average” rather than “plain”…

“How This New Discovery Made an Average-Looking Girl Look Like a Celebrity Babe!”

Here’s another version for another product…

“How This New Discovery Can Give You the Six-Pack Abs You’ve Always Wanted!”

Headline #4: Do You Make These Mistakes in English?

According to Schwab, the word “these” is the hook in this headline…it lures the reader into the copy because he is wondering, “What are these mistakes?”…“Am I making them?”—if he is he wants to correct them.

I use this headline often by simply moving a few words around…
Do You Make These (fill-in-the-blank) Mistakes?

Headline #5: Who Else Wants a Screen Star Figure?

I don’t know too many people that use the words, “screen star” anymore…here’s a couple of updated versions I wrote for today’s audience…

Who Else Wants a Sexy Movie Star Figure?

Who Else Wants a Sexy Celebrity Figure?

I use the basic structure of this headline often…

Who Else Wants (fill-in-the-blank with a benefit)?

Who Else Wants to Lose 10 Pounds in the Next 60 Days?

According to Schwab, this headline worked because it pushed the reader to “get on the bandwagon” with everyone else…I mean how many people do you know that don’t want a better physique?

Headline #6: They Laughed When I Sat Down at the Piano—But When I Started to Play!

And finally…can you guess what modern-day product uses this classic headline from John Caples, copywriting genius and author of Tested Advertising Methods, for its well-known product ads?

Schwab believed this headline drew interest because it had “sympathy with underdog.”

He went on to say, “…an example of a headline which turns the corner by using a final tag line to make itself positive instead of negative.”

And now the answer to the question above—the Rosetta Stone language course ads.

They run a radio ad where a guy and his friends are in a French restaurant and he tells them that he is studying French…it goes something like this:

“My friends laughed when I told them I was studying French, but when the waiter came to the table…I just smiled and said, “Je voudrais le poulet roti.”

The Caples ad was originally written in 1926 and is still used today in the Rosetta Stone ad, nearly 90 years later.

Do you have any classic headlines that you like to use in your copy?
I’d love it if you’d comment below and share some of your favorite headlines!

How to Boost Your Landing Pages Conversions with Testimonials (test results show increased response of 64.53% !)

How to Use Testimonials to Increase Landing Page ConversionsI was recently reviewing a client’s web landing page to see how it could be optimized to gain more interest from prospects—and ultimately turn that interest into business.

At the very bottom of the page in the lower right-hand corner in a little box in small text was a GREAT, BIG, POWERFUL testimonial!

A customer that had used my client’s services summed up his positive experience in a short, but powerful testimonial…and it was hidden at the bottom of the page.

Testimonials can be a very important part of your conversion puzzle and increasing customer response.

Michael Aagaard of published test results that showed how placing testimonials higher up on the landing page boosted response by 64.53%.

The original page had a headline, a bulleted list, product shot, a call-to-action with a simple email form field, followed by four testimonials.

The new page was exactly the same layout EXCEPT he moved two of the four testimonials up the page just under the bulleted list and product shot.

Michael’s results: “The test data confirmed the test hypothesis as the treatment generated a substantial lift of 64.53% in downloads.”

Michael’s take away: “The placement of your testimonials can have major impact on the decisions and actions of your potential customers.

When using testimonials on a landing page, you need to consider which placement will best support the decision-making process of the prospects and help build momentum towards the call-to-action.

In this case, placing two of the testimonials higher on the page, in the first screenful, had a positive impact on visitors and helped motivate them to download the book.”

In the end, of course, my recommendation to my client was to place the little testimonial higher up on the landing page so his potential customers could actually read the big, powerful message that could help persuade them to take action!

Want to Sell More Products and Services to Your Prospects? Write Copy They Understand!

NO GobbledygookHave you ever landed on a business website homepage and wondered, “What the heck are they talking about?”

If you want to sell more products and services to your prospects—you need copy that tells them about the problems those products and services solve in clear—plain—language.

I was recently reminded of this when I came across an interview with David Meerman Scott, author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR—a book that has become a business classic for marketing professionals and business managers. Scott also authored the Gobbledygook Manifesto.

In it he stresses the importance of writing for your prospects rather than writing in what he calls, “Gobbledygook”—using flowery language to impress people and sound smart when in fact it actually can annoy readers, not to mention the fact that they walk away scratching their heads wondering what you just “TRIED” to communicate to them.

Here’s an excerpt from Scott’s book that makes his point, “Your marketing and PR is meant to be the beginning of a relationship with buyers and to drive action, which requires a focus on buyer problems. Your buyers want to hear this in their own words…you should avoid jargon-laden phrases that are overused in your industry, unless this is the language the persona actually uses. In the technology business, words like groundbreaking, industry-standard, and cutting-edge are what I call gobbledygook.”

Scott has his own list of honorable mentions for the Gobbledygook List:
flexible, robust, world class, scalable, mission critical, market leading, turnkey, interoperable, best of breed, and user friendly.

**I’d like to add these words to that list: leverage, utilize, strategic (fill-in-the-blank)—you get the idea.

Below is a before and after example that Scott uses in his Gobbledygook Manifesto

With gobbledygook:

“… consider this example from the first paragraph of a well-known company’s corporate overview page…

[Company X] has remained faithful in its commitment to producing unparalleled entertainment experiences based on its rich legacy of quality creative content and exceptional  storytelling. Today, [Company X] is divided into four major business segments… Each segment consists of integrated, well-connected businesses that operate in concert to maximize exposure and growth worldwide.”

Without gobbledygook:

“Many television and cinema fans today are frustrated with the state of the American entertainment industry. They believe today’s films and shows are too derivative and that entertainment companies don’t respect their viewers’ intelligence.

Like our audience, we care about and enjoy movies and TV shows—that’s why we’re in this business in the first place. As such, we pledge to always… “

Scott’s point is if your prospects can’t understand what you are saying, than it is difficult to create and build relationships with them…and in the long run, difficult to sell them.

To make more sales, you have to speak your prospects’ language…it’s that simple!

Three Headline Mistakes You Should Never Make!

Headlines that Make Your Prospect STOP and read!Your headline has to capture your prospect’s attention from the second his eyes see it—and it should stand out like a big, red STOP sign so he can’t miss it if he wanted to.

Here is a quick list of a few things to stay away from if you want to improve the chances of getting and keeping your prospect’s attention with your marketing and advertising messages.

No. 1: Don’t focus on your business or yourself…focus the headline on your prospect and his problems, possible solutions, and/or some big benefits he will gain with your product or service.

This gets his interest and encourages him to read on.

No. 2: Don’t put something in your headline to capture your prospect and then NOT deliver in your body copy—your prospect will feel like you tricked him.

This leads to lost trust…and ultimately NO SALE!

No 3: Don’t be so clever in your headline that you in fact confuse your prospect to the point that he doesn’t get it and walks away scratching his head.

Bob Bly, one of the most successful copywriters in the marketing and advertising world, put it BEST in his famous book, The Copywriter’s Handbook, regarding being catchy or clever when it comes to effective headline writing

“…I advise you to be simple and straightforward. You won’t win any advertising awards, but at least you’ll sell some merchandise.”

These are simple…BUT very important points to keep in mind when you’re trying to craft effective headlines that speak to your prospect and get his attention enough to move through the rest of your copy…and ultimately through the sales process.

The Six Essential Truths of Successful Sales & Marketing

The Six Foundational Truths by Clyde Bedell, Advertising & Sales Professional, Student, and Teacher
Advertising genius and copywriter, Clyde Bedell, helped many of the largest businesses in America survive the Great Depression era. How? By systematizing the basic, results-proven, time-tested selling principles that he learned through his sales success—and then applying them over and over again.

He not only studied and practiced “professional” sales and advertising—but taught it!

His short course, published decades ago called, “How to Convert White Space Into Advertising That Sells”, teaches some of his time-tested sales and advertising principles that have been proven to increase customer response over many decades.

Here are the Six Foundational Truths that Clyde impressed upon his students and implemented as part of the principles he used to create and write successful marketing pieces for the businesses that hired him:

Foundation Truth No. 1: All Good Selling is Serving

Serve your prospects well with copy messages that are worth taking the time to read. SERVING your prospects is the strong foundation on which to build the rest of these truths.

Foundation Truth No. 2: People Buy Only to Get Benefits

You can’t ignore WHY people buy…it is to get benefits. They want a slimmer figure, more profit, better health, more time, security, beauty, etc. Don’t make the mistake of NOT telling your prospects what they will get if they take action.

Foundation Truth No. 3: Benefits Must Be Supported by Features

Always support benefits with features…otherwise a benefit is nothing more than an empty claim. Although SAFETY is a benefit, it means nothing until it is attached to a feature…
“Because this car’s new braking system gives you more square inches of braking surface than any other car on the road blah blah blah…so your safety is assured.”

Foundation Truth No. 4: Prospects Will Read any Amount of Copy…
(if it’s customer-focused)

The prospects who are truly your potential customers of any given product or service, will give your sales copy their full attention if it serves their needs. You must realize that they want you to give them helpful information about your product or service.

Foundation Truth No. 5: Planning is a Must for Successful Marketing

Marketing and advertising should be planned out, created and based on a set of sound sales principles and standards, done in a deliberate way—not just put together quickly and thrown out to the prospect. Good marketing is always the result of research, preparation, and planning.

Foundation Truth No. 6: Those in Charge (the Bosses)—Must Understand, Believe, and Enforce these Truths

If your job is to create or write marketing and sales messages that sell—it’s difficult to be successful if the people at the top aren’t behind you.

When the people “in charge” don’t understand what good sales and marketing messages require—the effectiveness of the marketing efforts inevitably sink to a low level.

…when those “in charge” DO understand the profit leverage of effective sales and marketing messages—they will stand behind their marketing staff’s efforts because there’s no faster way to increase profits!