“If the headline is poor, the copy will not be read. And copy that is not read does not sell goods. ”
– John Caples
You can never spend too much time on headlines, in my humble opinion.
As is often remarked, the headline is the “Ad for the Ad” and the starting point of the sales conversation with your prospective customer or client.
And the headline or headline block can also be…
1. Used as a short ad in its own right (modified as necessary, for example with a call-to-action)
2. Recycled in the main ad itself or supporting materials
As an aside, when I refer to the “headline block”, I’m referring to the combination of the pre-head, the main headline and the the post-headline section. That post-headline section can often include bullets and be quite long (take a look at many classic John Carlton sales letters, for example).
Back to our case study and this is from the July 2014 issue of “Men’s Fitness” magazine. In fact, it’s an ad for the bonus included with the magazine which is a “Last minute summer body” program.
The main headline block is in the top part of the graphic at the top of the post and at the bottom is the copy reused elsewhere on the packaging.
The first thing to keep in mind is…
…that this is a headline that is linked to a particular time of year (as is the product, of course).
That has the disadvantage that it must be used within a certain period of time.
BUT…it also has the tremendous advantage of tying in with the prevailing patterns of thought…the “Robert Collier Principle” of entering into the conversation that’s already in progress in the mind of your prospect.
Let’s take a look at the individual elements…
1) The pre-head…
FREE BONUS MAG
Simple, straight to the point and spells out what this is about.
“FREE” is still a powerful word in advertising, despite what you may have heard to the contrary. If you have an attractive free offer, it’s usually a good idea to get this across as early as possible.
2) The main headline
LAST-MINUTE SUMMER BODY
Headlines don’t have to be long. There’s something of a fashion especially in the online world for the headline to run to 16-20 words (more in some cases). It’s true that great copywriters like John Carlton are very successful with long headlines. But it’s not always necessary.
In this case, the headline is of the simple “benefit” type (“Summer Body”)…
…but with the brilliant twist of adding the time element “last-minute”.
Remember, this is in the July issue of “Men’s Fitness”. By this time we are well into summer and the prospect is likely to be very aware that it’s getting a little late in the day and may be on the edge of panic. The “last-minute” introduces some assurance that it’s not too late.
3) The post head
Your No-Panic Four-Week Training Plan
>Lose Body fat
>Rule The Beach
We have a follow up to the main headline that expands on the main idea with some…
(a) Further reassurance (“No-panic”)
(b) Specifics (“Four-Week Training Plan”…just in time to make the August holiday!)
There are also 3 bullets to further expand on the benefits. The first two are pretty straight forward…
…but the third is a real gem! It hits the emotional hot-button of what most guys really want from this kind of program…looking good and feeling confident enough to strut around on the beach as if they owned it!
Results benefits are important but remember it’s the emotional benefits that will really close the sale.
A further point, even though this headline block is for a free bonus, it still works hard to make the “sale”. This is an important point in copy…it’s essential to “sell” your bonuses and free offers just as hard as a paid product.
One final point, note the use of the graphic demonstrating the implied results of the program. Frankly, pretty much every graphic on the front of men’s magazines dealing with health and fitness is the same…but I guess that demonstrates the power of this particular archetype!
Overall a neat headline example that does a lot of work with relatively few words.