Archive for the 'Copywriting' Category

Here are some more proven headline constructions you can use to boost response rates. Notice that many of them have an editorial feel. Skepticism has soared as people get bombarded with sales messages in all directions. This is particularly true on the Internet, so most people browsing today have a finger on the trigger (the mouse) ready to click away in a nanosecond if they sense another hype-driven message.

They will read your copy, but they first need to be enticed or seduced into spending the time to read your message. They need to feel they’ll get something out of it.

One of the best ways to work around that skepticism and resistance is to provide a more editorial approach – a headline that clearly indicates there is valuable information in the text below (but make sure to pay it off with real value in the copy).
1) What [ different kinds of people ] need to know in order to accomplish something

(example) What everyone needs to know about getting their first job

(example) What entrepreneurs need to know about succeeding on the Internet

(example) What investors need to know about the gold market today
(“today” adds topicality and urgency to the information you are delivering)

2) [number] signs you’re [something negative]

(example) 8 signs you’re headed for financial disaster

(example) 4 signs you could be headed for a heart attack

3) Asking a provocative question with dire consequences

(example) When are you most likely to have a heart attack?

4) Little known or hidden ways _______
(another way to tap into the desire to know what others don’t know)

(example) Little known ways to win at negotiations

(example) Hidden ways to lower your pay per click costs

5) If you think [assumption]
(makes people examine their assumptions)

(example) If you think your computer is free from viruses, wait till you read this

6)Give me ____ and I’ll give you_____
(Quickly shows the reader that there is a quick way to achieve the benefit

(example)Give me 1 hour and I’ll set you up with a money-making website that runs on autopilot

7) If you have _____________ then [benefit]
(“If you have” lends a reasonable tone to big claims. Helps overcome skepticism and resistance because it asks something of the reader in order to achieve the benefit)

(example) If you have 30 minutes a month, I guarantee to make you feel 10 years younger

8) Test the reader
(classic engagement device)

(example) If you fail this test, you could have gum disease
(adding a visual element as I did in this ad makes this construction even more compelling. Visual showed a model’s teeth. Around the teeth were captions in the form of test questions witharrows pointing to gum disease symptoms in the teeth.)

(example) Test your market savvy with this quiz

To read the rest of this article, click copywriting headlines


 Looking for headlines and copy that can bring more leads and bring more sales to your business? Click this link

Want to learn how to write business-boosting headlines and copy?
Then click this link

© Altman Communications 2008

Headlines are the single element that can do the most to improve response in all your marketing. According to David Ogilvy, founder of ad giant Ogilvy & Mather Advertising, unless your headline really works, “you have wasted 90% of your (ad) money.” Headline opportunities abound, including the top of direct mail sales letters, the front of brochures, ads, web sales pages, landing pages, opt-in pages, emails, and more.

Context is important in creating the right headline. Website sales pages, opt-in pages, direct mail, ads, are all somewhat different. Tone must be aligned with the target audience. Here is a group of headline structures that with a little work have proven to be exceptionally effective in many different marketing contexts.
1)I call them the “How’s”
This is one of the most effective and versatile headline structures. The How’s can be arranged in many different ways. For example:

[How I……..] tells a first person story. The testimonial slant of the approach adds to its power.

“How I was able to retire to a tropical island at aged 35 by creating one website”

“How a simple idea led to a promotion and a 50% salary increase…
and how you can do the same”

[How to…………]
How to turn the oil crisis into a personal windfall
Add a preceding address:
Stock market investors: How to make money in a bear market

Add a double benefit:
[How to ____ and _____ ]
How to increase traffic to your website and lift profits 155%

Add a triple benefit:
[How to ____ and____ while_____]
How to increase traffic to your website and lift profits 155% while working less

2) Something is missing approach:

The idea of missing out on something is a very powerful motivator. This naturally evokes curiosity – “what am I missing out on?” and even stronger emotions, such as anger, “Why haven’t I been told such and such.”

Here are two good examples. The first one uses the “Do you know what is missing” construction. It’s from a Nightingale Conant direct mailing talking about the controversial book and video “The Secret.”

You know of The Secret.
But do you know what it’s missing?

By the end of this letter, you will…

The next “missing” headline capitalizes on a 60 Minutes feature story on oil.

Missing 60 Minutes Oil Sands Story gives you a chance to make 575% over the next 12 months

You mean 60 Minutes didn’t tell me the whole story. And the missing part of the story can make me money? I’m all ears.

3) Mistakes Approach:
No one wants to make a mistake that can cost them dearly. That’s why the thought of avoiding costly mistakes is often a more potent motivator than taking advantage of an opportunity. Some examples:

This investment mistake could ruin your retirement

The biggest mistake average golfers make on their pitch shots

The 3 worst mistakes you can make on a job interview

4) Going against the big guys or the Common Enemy approach:
(you and I against the people/institutions that are trying to hide something from us.) In this age of increasing skepticism (often well-founded) of corporations and institutions, this can help get the reader on your side.

The investment secret superrich hedge fund managers pray small investors never find out and use for themselves

What pharmaceutical companies don’t want you to know about B-complex vitamins


These are just a few very powerful, proven headline structures that can boost response to your marketing. Stay tuned for more powerful headline structures.


Looking for headlines and copy that can bring more leads and more sales to your business?
Click this link

Want to learn how to write business-boosting headlines and copy?
Then click this link

While each sales page and sales letter is different, the good ones have  a number of things in common. They attract attention, tell a story, show proof, add a sense of urgency – in short, they have the ability to close the sale. Here is a list I gathered of just some of the things you should check for in your sales pages and letters:

Does the headline command attention?

Does the main subhead (“deck copy”) elaborate on the headline and make me want to read the next sentence?

Is your unique selling proposition evident?

Do you address the readers problem/pain?

Make it sound like a personal letter written to one person (the target audience)

Is your guarantee convincing?

Use active tense instead of passive tense

Use compelling details/facts/statistics to support your case

Don’t state your call to action too soon or too late

Answer the implicit question “so what?” throughout the letter

Keep in mind the 4U’s of effective sales copy: Urgent, Useful, Unique, and Ultra-specific

For a list of 36 suggestions and tips on more effective sales letters and pages, check my newsletter at

If you’re interested in using my services to craft more effective sales pages and letters for your business, call 1 888-650-9714.

Or check out my copy coaching program…

     It’s widely known that having a deadline in your sales letter adds urgency to your marketing message – and helps increase response. But even better than just a deadline is an urgency story.

     What I mean by that is making a mini-story out of your urgency message. It’s one of the techniques I have used in over 25 years of copywriting that almost always elevates response.

     When I tell students and coaching clients  about  injecting  a story element into their sales letter, they immediately think of the opening of the letter. Actually there can, and should be, mini- stories embedded in the letter. Most of the time, instead of  stating a point rhetorically it is more effective to make a narrative out of it. An urgency message is one of those places where a short embedded narrative can drive home the urgency of acting now. Here are 3 techniques you can use  that have worked beautifully:

1) Event based urgency 
A sales letter I did fairly recently on China stocks was hugely successful. I’m convinced  one of the reasons for its success was this mini-story I wrote within the first quarter of the letter:

“But there is something else about to happen that will catapult selected stocks much higher. And that catalyst is …

…The Olympics

China would be the fastest growing country in the world even without the Olympics. But hosting the upcoming Olympic Games is like dousing gasoline on a fire, making growth even more intense than before. You see, the Chinese government is determined to impress the entire world. China’s top political advisor, Jia Qinglin, recently said, “To host a good Olympic Games is Beijing’s No.1 task this year.” So they’re on a tear – building and expanding to get things done in time. Infrastructure related companies are seeing massive profits and their stock prices continue an upward trajectory.

It’s a rare moment in history…

The biggest industrial boom of all is scrambling to meet a momentous deadline – the start of The Games.”

     So way before the call to action, this copy injected the idea that investors  who want to enjoy the the best returns would need to subscribe now and find out about those stocks. While the reader is reading the rest of the letter, this urgency story plays as a  background subtext. The letter beat the control by 300%

2) Seasonal Urgency
Putting urgency into a  seasonal context has always been effective. In a project for interior designers, I tied the first weeks of Spring with a service about window treatments. The idea was that in the first few weeks of  Spring people start looking outward, literally, and fix up their windows so they can enjoy the view.

     For designers looking for custom window treatment business, this “window of opportunity” to attract prospects while they are in this fix-up mode is brief. So there is a natural urgency for interior designers to use the service I am promoting to attract prospects during this period.

3) Competitive Urgency 
In this technqiue, you are purposely limiting the competition for those who buy your product or service. For this particular client, I limited the number of programs sold per geographic region. In this way, the people who bought were not only getting something exclusive, they could also dominate their geographic  market. So how does it inject urgency? 

a) In order to to be one of a chosen few in your geographical region to get the service, you need to order quickly before you are closed out of  the opportunity. b) I developed the story that this service is so effective, you don’t want your competition to get its hands on it before you do.

     These are just 3 out of many ways to embed  an urgency story into your sales letter.
It is important to make a little of a story out of each message. It doesn’t have to be long. But a narrative of a few paragraphs adds a great deal of  impact to the urgency message. 

     What it does is dramatize the “reason why.” When people are given a reason why they should act now, it makes it real to them. When the reason why is put into a story – that’s when response rates can really explode.
You have permission to reprint this article as long as you include the following resource information, including the hyperlinks:

Leon Altman is a Internet marketing consultant, copywriter and entrepreneur with 25 years of experience. For his free marketing ecourse, go to . For his copywriting services, go to


Interestingly enough, the word horsepower began as a marketing term back in 1782. James Watt wanted to sell his new invention, the steam engine, but knew that talking about “pounds-per-square-foot” just wouldn’t cut it. So he came up with the concept of horsepower to explain the new kind of power he was generating.
The idea of coining a marketing-friendly word or phrase to reframe and package an abstract or dull concept is powerful and extremely effective. In his newsletter, copywriter John Forde gives some examples of this technique:

“…. I bring this up because lately I’m seeing a lot of the same logic work its way into today’s marketing copy. And often with huge success.

The trick works like this…

Let’s say a concept near the core of your sales message is a little dense and unwieldy…

Or maybe it carries some emotional baggage…

Or maybe you’re just selling something so familiar, you worry people won’t hear you out long enough to see what’s different about your pitch.

That’s where the “horsepower” technique comes in handy. What it does is let you reframe the concept into something new.

It’s familiar in one way, mysterious in another. So the prospective customer can embrace it instantly. But they’re also intrigued to hear more.

A friend did this recently in a promo for an investment newsletter, where the editor’s latest favorite hot topic was geothermal energy. Knowing that term would bore the socks off prospects before he could lay down his case, the copywriter re-dubbed it “slow volcano power.” And it worked. That one promo is bearing down on $2 million in sales, if it hasn’t passed that mark already.

Another info publisher I know of uses this same technique as a starting point for almost all their new pitches – with huge success. They did $60 million in sales last year.

The same technique can add new drama to common problems that your product can solve. You might even consider a term that adds more mystery rather than clarifies.

For instance, asking your reader if they’re “Tired of suffering the embarrassment of ‘halitosis'”… is just asking them if they want to get rid of their bad breath.

But transforming “bad breath” into the lesser-known “halitosis” – the clinical term for bad breath – both ups the stakes and raises curiosity.

If this is an old technique, why talk about it now? Because prospects are hit so hard, so often with pitches that say much of the same thing for similar products, re-inventing terminology gives you a time-tested way to breeze past all that new resistance.

Call it “brain grease,” if you like. Just so long as you know that it works. And that it’s worth testing as soon as you get the chance.


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