Why “swiping” headlines is for chumps
I HATE writing headlines.
When you start studying copywriting, one of the first things you hear is the famous quote from adman David Ogilvy:
“When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”
In other words, the headline is responsible for 80% of the results of your ad.
To make it worse, even master-level copywriters often can’t look at a list of 10 headlines and pick out the top 2-3 winners.
And I feel every bit of that pressure when I tackle a new headline.
I recently had a breakthrough that’s completely changed the way I approach headlines.
And it’s this: I’ve stopped stressing about finding the perfect headline, and started focusing on finding a strong LEAD.
The lead is the first 5-10% of your copy.
On a typical sales page, the lead includes the headline as well as the first few hundred words of the copy.
And while there are a zillion different headline “templates” and formulas out there…
There are only a handful of different types of leads.
For example, you can open your sales message with a story.
Or you can make a bold prediction about the future.
Or you can offer a great deal and a solid guarantee.
And since the headline is really just the first sentence in your lead…
Knowing the type of lead you want to use makes finding a good headline MUCH simpler.
That’s also why you can’t just whip out your list of the top 100 classic headlines and swipe-and-steal your way to riches.
Your headline has to flow naturally into the lead, or you wind up with copy that feels like the writer Frankensteined it together (because you did).
It’s a subtle mental shift, but it’s made a huge difference in how I approach my writing.
I’m much less concerned about finding a ninja blackbelt jujitsu headline that instantly sells the reader in 7 words.
Instead, during my research I look for a fascinating lead that I can get across in a few tight, action-packed sentences.
Then when it comes time to write my headline, I’m not grasping at straws for an earth-shattering promise…
I’m just looking for an intriguing path into my lead—something that gets the reader to raise his eyebrow, then read the next sentence.
And the next…
The best part is, there are just 6 main types of leads.
And if you know your audience well, you can easily pick the one that’s right for any situation.
The whole process is brilliantly explained in a book called “Great Leads.”
It’s easily one of the top 10 resources I’ve found for copywriting—and you can grab it on Amazon for the price of a burger and fries: