View Full Version : Headlines

08-15-2010, 06:19 PM
I have a direct mail postcard I'm doing a few slight revisions to for a client of mine whose business is fitness.

The design is very sparse, the copy is simply bullet points and the card has done really well for them. There are currently 3 versions - the only difference is the "headline" and the headline they use depends on the class they are pushing/demographic they are reaching for.

What do you think of these:
1) It's torture, but it works
2) More than just looking better in your underwear
3) Fitness as a lifestyle, not just an activity

How do you come up with headlines? How vital is the headline to the copy?

08-15-2010, 07:38 PM
I like the first two, but not the last one...but not crazy over the moon like...

Headlines are uber important. It's worth spending hours and hours over coming up with the perfect one.

08-15-2010, 10:20 PM
I think headlines are extremely important - 90 percent of the time to create the total copy could be spent on the headline, in my view. That said, I have never found myself great at creating headlines and for that reason, possibly, I am not turned on by any of the suggestions.

08-16-2010, 01:05 AM
These are headlines they want to use - they provided the copy on this one from somewhere....
I'm not crazy about any of them, although the underwear one made me look twice the first time I saw it. The torture one is a tagline of sorts for the fitness program, the other one is a catch-phrase they use when talking about their fitness program.

This particular time they are "reaching out" to the Mommy market. They haven't decided for sure which card they are going with yet.

Steve B
08-16-2010, 06:16 PM
I think they are all pretty bad. They need to hire someone to help them with that!

08-16-2010, 09:33 PM
The best direct sales copy in fitness that I've found is the material from Eric Ruth.

08-17-2010, 01:25 AM
But Steve... they wrote it themselves so it's wonderful... right? :D

Steve B
08-17-2010, 05:46 AM
I don't operate on the princiiple that the customer is always right. It's a tough and delicate conversation, but if they're paying you for you expertise, then you at least owe them an honest opinion. I think those headlines are pretty lame and sound like a 3rd grader came up with them in about 2 minutes. The headline is extremely important and will impact the results - regardless of how good the rest of the work is. Of course, they can go forward with them if they want, but I'd at least point it out to them.

08-17-2010, 10:18 AM
i would be asking the target users their opinion....i know i probably need a fitness program....and the torture one sounds kind of right and fun...
when we do this kind of work on our presentations or ads we think the headline is the main thing...then the picture then the words...

08-19-2010, 07:23 PM
Like some of the other folks have said, none of those headlines are knocking my socks off. IMO, the only one with any potential is #2. #3 was a tad confusing, and as for #1, well, I would never compare my product to torture ;)

As you well know, your headline is incredibly important. You only have a few seconds to convince people to keep reading. A dynamite ad will go nowhere without the right headline.

08-22-2010, 05:37 PM
In direct response marketing, the headline is extremely important because it's what grabs people's attention and gives them a reason to read the rest of the copy. Weak headline = fewer prospects read the ad = weaker response to the ad. Short answer for headlines is just to tell the reader what's in it for them. What are you offering and how's it going to benefit them? Stay away from "cute" and "edgy", and just succintly and powerfully state what the prospect will get from the offer.

08-25-2010, 04:05 AM
Well, David Ogilvy was among the most famously successful marketers of the twentieth century, and he noted that “readership falls off rapidly up to 50 words, but drops very little between fifty and five hundred.” And, “on average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy.” Elmer Wheeler, known as America’s greatest salesman, wrote a book titled Tested Sentences That Sell, and he called chapter 9 of this book ‘Your First Ten Words are More Important Than Your Next Ten Thousand.’

That's how important your headline is.

Copyblogger has a good series on writing headlines, if that helps: Headline Writing for Online Content and Copy | Copyblogger (http://www.copyblogger.com/magnetic-headlines/)

08-25-2010, 03:30 PM

Are they hiring you as the expert? If they are, you owe it to them to explain why their headlines are weak and what they can do to make them better. I'm well acquainted with battling against bad copy and bad ideas. I've spent a lot of time explaining why something won't work or why we could do something that would work better. Sometimes I win and sometimes I lose, but I always try to have my say.

Maybe it is set in stone, and they won't change, but if they're paying you for your expertise, I think you ought to tell them how things are. Even if they shut you down when you bring up the subject, you'll at least have tried.

It's also a little bit of protection if the card tanks. If they used their headline and you tried to tell them they should do something different, then you have a bit of protection. The last thing you want is someone saying later "Why didn't you tell us this was bad?"

Dan Furman
08-26-2010, 06:36 PM
Headlines are kind of overrated. People seem to want to know some kind of trick or magic... there is none. Just address the reason I looked to start reading in the first place, and perhaps give me a sense at what you are offering. That's it - no magic, no tricks, no hype.

To the OP - those looked more like e-mail subject lines to me (which are a different story). And as e-mail subject lines, I like them a lot. As postcard headlines, not so much - too gimmicky for me.

09-21-2010, 12:58 PM
Hello all - and thanks for the feedback!

The saving grace on this postcard is that it's 6x9 with less than 100 words of copy on the whole thing - including the headline, at a glance a prospective client gets the message. Which is we do extreme workout routines - come try one for free & bring a friend with you too.

They have been using the same format for the past couple of years and it's been working well - so while "Stop kidding yourself. Your workout routine is a Joke." is not the headline I would have written, I can't knock it too hard - it does get results. Although in my opinion the reason it gets results is because the postcard doesn't try to say much - just a one line intro to the three primary workout routines that are offered along with the try it yourself offer - address, phone number, website. Simple, easy to read at a glance and succinct. It's a formula that usually works pretty well.

10-12-2010, 06:15 PM
The problem I see with these headlines is that they donít distinguish you from any other fitness club Ė each of your competitors could use the same headline.
Also, they have no specific connection to your target market.
You say youíre going after the mommy market so the question is: what do you offer that would appeal to this market? Free child care, female trainers, a laid back, unintimidating atmosphere. You clients must have some facts or research that has lead them to believe that this is the best market to go after. I would start with this research and focus on what it is that the mommys want.
Iím not an expert in the fitness field but it seems to me that the torture headline would turn off the very market you are trying to appeal to. People who get off on super intensive workouts already belong to a club.
I agree with the previous poster Ė the customer isnít always right. Your client may like the two catch phrases (More than just looking better in your underwear & Fitness as a lifestyle, not just an activity) but Iíll bet they mean absolutely nothing to the target market Ė how could they, they werenít created with this group of people in mind.
Also, no one is smart enough to know exactly what headline will work best. Come up with 2 or 3 good ones that speak to your target market and then test them Ė create different versions of the post card where the headline is the only difference. Use a unique phone number for each different version of the card and the one that gets the most phone calls is the best headline.

10-13-2010, 02:56 AM
Headlines are Very Important. Think of a greeting card. Do you ever care what's inside if the front doesn't make you "need" to open it? A headline should leave the reader begging for more.

For me, the first one made me hope the next two were better, the second one reminded me of a comic strip (so I may or may not want to keep reading, since I already read the strip), and the third one left me wishing there was a 4th.

One thing you could try. Walk through the gym while you're actually thinking of headlines. What thoughts do you get when you see all the different people working out? Unlike prospective customers, they are already there. What about them do you imagine brought them there in the first place. Use the one liners that come to mind as templates for new headline ideas.

10-28-2010, 05:04 PM
The headline is the most important aspect of an ad. One famous copywriter found as much as a 1900% increase in responses just by varying the headline by continually split testing one against the other.

Writing good headlines is an art. I would invest in John Caple's timeless book, "Tested Advertising Methods" and read it before I wrote another ad.

11-16-2010, 10:18 AM
The only one that would show any type of benefit would kinda be #2. But I think they could do much better than those three.

01-28-2011, 10:56 PM
the headline is the most important part of the copy.

You should read the book: Tested Advertising Methods. All about headlines and what has worked best over the years.

05-18-2011, 01:28 PM
Like some of the other folks have said, none of those headlines are knocking my socks off. IMO, the only one with any potential is #2. #3 was a tad confusing, and as for #1, well, I would never compare my product to torture ;)

As you well know, your headline is incredibly important. You only have a few seconds to convince people to keep reading. A dynamite ad will go nowhere without the right headline.

I completely agree. Please don't mention torture. I was just planning on working out in 10 minutes, and reading that line completely weakened my resolve.

06-15-2011, 01:44 PM
I'm not sure what the product is, but the three headlines in the beginning were pretty bad. I'm pretty sure you've tweaked them by now. Two good one's I've seen in the health niche are the ones that say:

1. One weird trick to losing belly fat
2. Six weird foods that shed belly fat

I would attempt to write one, but I don't know enough about your product.