Reader's Question: Does my ad or sales
letter need a headline?
My Answer: Absolutely!
Here Are 7 Reasons Why Your Headline Is
- According to David Ogilvy (one of the greatest ad men
ever), five times as many people read the headline as read
the body copy of your advertisement. It may be the only
chance you get to make a statement.
- If you don't stop readers with your headline, 80% of
your ad dollars are wasted. The only purpose of a headline
is to get people to read the first paragraph of your ad. The
only purpose of the first paragraph is to get them to read
the second paragraph, and so on. A headline is the engine
that pulls this train.
- A headline is "an ad for your ad." It attracts and
selects the kind of prospects and clients you want to have.
- A great headline is benefit-oriented. Creating one
forces you to think about things from a client's perspective
(i.e. what's in it for me?).
- Maxwell Sackheim, the inventor of the
book-of-the-month-club and writer of one of the longest
running ads of all time (its headline: "Do You Make These
Mistakes in English?," ran 40+ years unchanged), had this to
say: "The slickest writing, the finest paper, printing
and artwork can't make a good idea out of a bad one or an
attractive offer out of a poor one." If you've got
something important to say, let your headline trumpet it to
- Relatively few of your competitors use headlines (and
your business name is NOT a headline!). Therefore, using one
will instantly set you apart.
- Headlines aren't just for print ads. Every marketing
communication piece will be improved by having one: sales
letters (people don't care about your logo -- use a
compelling headline instead), radio spots (use a "verbal
headline" to fire your biggest gun first), even your
business card (do you think a "conventional" business card
does anything for you? – put a big, bold, benefit-oriented
headline on your card – your name and contact information
can be tiny by comparison.)
When I'm creating a new advertisement, I'll often spend
more hours developing the headline than writing the rest of
the ad copy. It's that important. I've often written several
dozen different headlines for a single ad before selecting the
strongest one to use. If you want to make your advertising
dollars go much further than they do now, then give headlines
the time and thought they deserve – and then don't be afraid
to run them big and bold. I promise you'll love the results.