3 Proven Formulas For Writing A Headline That Sells

3 acesWhether you write your own advertising and marketing copy or hire a professional copywriter, you need to be able to identify what is most likely to work and what isn’t.  The caveat here is that nobody ever knows whether a particular piece will be successful until it’s tested by putting it in front of real prospects.

73% of the buying decision is made by the time your prospect reads or hears the headline, hook or lead of an ad.  In other words, it’s the one big idea, captured in a few words that captivates your prospect’s imagination.

Bill Bonner, founder and president of Agora Publications, now with revenues in excess of $500 million said that in their training program for staff of 100+ copywriters, they taught over 6,000 secrets to writing a successful package.  Of those, he’d forgotten all but one.

And that was the importance of finding the right story.

He gave the following three classic examples that have proven themselves by selling literally billions upon billions of dollars of goods and services.

“They all laughed when I sat down at the piano.  But when I started to play…”

This headline conjures up setting, plot and story development all in a few words.  You could steal the formula outright – and many have, but the larger point is, it tells a compelling story, without obliquely mentioning obvious features or benefits.  And it’s a proven winner.
Another classic is the “Two Young Men” letter mailed by the Wall Street Journal that sold over $2 billion in subscriptions over an 18 year run in which no other letter they tested could beat it. It starts out…
“On a beautiful late spring afternoon, twenty-five years ago, two young men graduated from the same college. They were very much alike, these two young men. Both had been better than average students, both were personable and both – as young college graduates are – were filled with ambitious dreams for the future.
Recently, these two men returned to college for their 25th reunion.”

It turns out they work for the same large company, one as manager of a small department, the other as president.  The difference?  You guessed it, only one reads the Wall Street Journal. 

And then there’s…“The Insult That Made A Man Out Of Mac”. 


Maybe you’ve seen this:

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The hero, a skinny kid gets sand kicked in his face by the beach bully, buys the Charles Atlas course and when the bully reappears our hero pastes him a good one, all to the admiration of his girl friend.  It’s an old story, but the reader identifies on more than one level with that kid.  Who hasn’t been pushed around and would like a chance to fight back, for instance?

A compelling story, told in the right media, can help you build a monster business.

And if you can’t tell a good story, maybe it’s time to change your offer, even if it means restructuring the business.  That may be challenging, but the greatest challenge – and value – is at point of sale.


Let’s get you telling a great story – How could you use the above examples to take yours to a whole new level?

Get in touch if I can help.  That’s what I’m here for


To your wildest success,

Mike Connolly