greatest headlines ever




If you’ve done ANY copywriting at all you should be acutely aware of just how important the headline is relative to the success of an overall piece.

The headline is the hook, the pull, the first interaction, and as such sets the tone while acting as the touch point the reader uses to decide if reading the balance of the piece is even worth their valuable time.

The following is a handful of 13 headlines I feel are among the all-time greats.  If you look around you’ll see that many variations of these are used in much of the marketing you see.

Here goes:

 1. "The Secret Of Making People Like You"

This headline drew many hundreds of thousands of readers into the body matter of a "people-mover" advertisement — one which, by itself, built a big business.  It speaks to people’s insecurities and general desire for approval.


2. "How To Win Friends And Influence People"

This headline helped to sell millions of copies of the book of the same title. This is a great examp[le of the classic "How to" headline format.  Again, it speaks to people’s desire to have friends (how do you think MySpace, FaceBook and the like have done so well) but this one also grabs on to the desire to rise above the folks around you.  Mind control at its finest (did I mean the headline or what it is selling?).

3. "You Can Laugh At Money Problems — If You Follow This Simple Plan"

This headline hits the reader with something pretty much everybody wants to be able to do.  After pulling you in with an almost universal desire (to solve an almost universal problem) it then hooks you with the offer of a "Simple Plan" you can use to solve the problem.  Emotional entry and strong hook.


4. "When Doctors "Feel Rotten" This Is What They Do"

This headline has got a number of elements at work.  First, it combines the instant authority of the Doctor with a familiar human issue of  "feeling rotten".  The reader continues into it because 1. An authority is speaking, and 2. That authority feels just like I do sometimes.  It is also unusual to think of a doctor not feeling good so that element grabs the reader.   It also suggests the existence of a solution to feeling rotten, and that solution happens to be what the authority on NOT feeling rotten does when he/she feels rotten.  It must be a great solution!

5. "Five Familiar Skin Problems — Which Do You Want To Overcome?"

This headline pulls you in just out of curiosity.  Just what are the five problems and do I have any of them.  It then speaks directly to you, making you answer a question.  Byopeningg that communication it hooks you into moving further into the ad.

6. "How Often Do You Hear Yourself Saying: "No I Haven’t Read It: I’ve Been Meaning To"

I’m about to use a slight variation of this one myself (stay tuned for This headline was part of an ad for a well known book club.  It speaks to a very large market as most people would probably be able to say it applies to them.    The words hit upon the emotional guilt button.  Variations of this headline have been used in all sorts of markets for manydifferentt products.

7. "Do You Do Any Of These TenEmbarrassingg Things?"

We are all afraid of embarrassing ourselves.  No one likes to be criticized, looked down upon, talked about, etc.  The reader is magnetically drawn in by the need to know just what the ten things are, to make sure they aren’t unwittingly doing any of them.  My god… maybe folks are laughing at me behind my back and I don’t know about it.

8. "Six Types Of Investor – Which Group Are You In?"

Interesting lead generation headline.  Even if you aren’t an investor you know you should be.  Just what are the types and which would you be?  This headline could be modified to fit almost any topic.  Rather than investor it could be Parent, business owner, teacher, marketer, etc.  The list can go on and on.  The curiosity factor hooks the reader and also preps them for choosing which group they fit – so they can be properly marketed to.

9. "They Laughed When I Sat Down At The Piano… But When I Started To Play!"

We see this one all the time. Americans especially love to see the underdog triumph.  It’s a lot like the old Atlas comic book ads that featured the 98 poundweaklingg getting sand kicked in his face.  We all loved it when that guy got pumped up and knocked out the bully.

This headline also uses the emotional issues ofembarrassmentt, dominance, victory, acceptance and a number of others.  We’d all like to have that feeling one would get when we surprise them all and triumph… especially beating the folks that laughed at us.

10. "Little Leaks That Keep Men Poor"

Again, the reader needs to know "What are the leaks?",  " Am I the victim of any of them?", "I don’t want to be poor.  He who has the most gold when he dies wins so how to I stop these leaks?"  Need I say more?

11. "To Men Who Want To Quit Work Someday"

This headline is pretty obvious.  It is speaking to men (a pretty large pool) first and to the fact that most everyone would like to be able to quit work.  Men also stress and worry over their ability to retire.  This one grabs its intended victim, and twists the knife as it drives it in.

12. "Imagine Me… Holding An Audience Spellbound For 30 Minutes"

Very effective combination of words.  It speaks to the reader.  It is humble which helps create acceptance.  It also speaks to an issue for sooo many people: public speaking.  There is also then an element of "shoot, if HE can do it surely I can".

13. "This Is Marie Antoinette — Riding To Her Death"

A straight "fascination" as Eugene Schwartz used to call them.  The headline is designed to make the reader feel they’ve got to take a peek at this.  The words paint a good picture while tickling our morbid sense of curiosity.  I love it.


That’s it for the 13 my friend.  Take a moment and read back through that list.  Then take another few moments and see how you might modify and adapt one or more of them for your own purposes.   Also look at the next magazine headlines you see from a different perspective.  You may just start to recognize variations of headlines you’ve seen before.

"There’s gold in them thar words… gold I tell you."

Onward & Upward!

Sam Knoll


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