How to Write Headlines That Sell… In Less Time Than It Takes To Do The Dishes (2021)

You know headlines are the most important part of the copy, right?

It’s because headlines select the audience.

Choose wisely, and you have a half-sold prospects at your front door…

Choose badly, and you’re trying to convince Eskimos to buy more ice…

No Bueno.

But don’t worry…

Because In this short post, I’ll teach you how to select audience with the accuracy of a cruise missile.

Oh, btw…

You don’t need any creativity.

It’s a dead-simple process that anyone with 5 working brain cells can follow.

Ready? Grab your notebooks and let’s dive in.

“Scotty, Is it The Time To Write Headlines Yet?”

There are two schools of thought regarding when to write a headline. (Of which I don’t belong to any.)

First, writing the headline after research, before writing the copy.

This way, you have a clear target and prevent your copy from being a jumbled mess of gobbledygook.

However… You also prevent yourself from discovering new interesting marketing angles while writing.

Second, writing the headline after writing the copy.

This way you’ll increase the congruency of the headline with the text. However, you might write a killer copy from an angle that people don’t care about.

Which one should you choose? My advice… Both. (More on this later.)

“I get it, but how do I do it?”

How long do you think writing headlines should take?

5 minutes…?

1 hour…?

10% of the time spent writing?

Top Copywriters like Ogilvy and Claude Hopkins recommend that 25% to even 50% of writing time should be spent on headlines.

This means if you dedicate 4 hours to writing a piece of copy (not including research), you should spend 1 to 2 hours crafting headlines.

My advice to you…

Spend 25%, and split it into two sittings.

Have your first session after research before you start writing. And your second session after writing.

This way you can have the best of both worlds.

Laser-like precision and adjustment for even more congruency.

Now, let’s move on to…

Five Methods To Asswhopping Headlines

The 4U Technique

Four Us stands for Uniqueness, Urgency, Usefulness, Ultra-specificity.

On a subjective scale from 1-4, you can judge your headline (and copy) by each of the 4Us. Aim that you have at least 3 or 4 on each.

For example… The headline “Buy a car”, would score a 1 in uniqueness, 1 in urgency, 2 in usefulness, and 1 in specificity. (IMO.)

But… “Invest In The Brand New Octavia RS Before The End Of The Year And We Buy You Gas For The Whole Of 2021!”

Now THAT is unique, urgent, useful, and ultra-specific.

The Three Lenses

Different people have different personalities.

Some like to compete. Some want to prove that they can. Some just want an easier life…

We can, therefore, write headlines that appeal to any of the groups.

Take any headline, like… “Buy this engine-powered lawnmower”

And send it through any of the three lenses…

  1. Competitive: “Have the best front yard in the neighborhood…”
  2. Inspirational: “You too can have a luxurious looking lawn…”
  3. Beneficial: “Don’t break a sweat mowing…”

Which works the best for your product and audience?

Test and see what drives the best results.

Headline Robot

A general formula for making headlines is…

[end result] + [time period] + [address objections]

Or in any order you want.

For example, selling tanning marmalade…

“Get a chocolate-brown tan in 20 minutes… without being sticky!”

(Not the best selling point but it would work for me because I hate feeling sticky after applying any kind of cream.)

“20 minutes a day for a month for perfect abs… or we give your money back!”

Don’t be too strict with this formula. Let your headlines have a bit personality…. (But you gotta know the rules to break the rules, am I right?)

Swipe File Technique

For this one, you need a huge library of winner headlines. Find them online or in any good magazine.

Then read them all and start adapting them for your product.

As of writing this, I’ve just found this headline in the National Enquirer…

“No Bite In The Big Apple? Celine Dion Looks Scary Skinny In New York”

You could adapt this for a restaurant…

“Want a slice of The Big Apple? Five-Star New York Restaurant Is Offering 90% Off For The First 100 Guests…”

Cool headline. I’d be interested.

The Monte Carlo Technique

And finally, my favourite.

Sit down, and pump out 20 to 100 headlines.

In any way you want.

Don’t stop to edit.

Once you’re done go through them again. I guarantee you’ll have at least 5 winners.

Which Headline Technique To Use?

Try all of them. Then Try combinations.

I start with the Swipe File technique or Three Lenses… With Monte Carlo on top.

Then I use 4Us to further refine my winners.

‘Till next time…

Mihael D. Čačič

Published by Mihael D. Cacic

Content Marketing Strategist & Epic Blog Writer.