Breakthrough Headline Formulas

If you often get stuck like me looking for a great headline for ad or a blog post, then you’ll find this list really helpful.

And where from this list?

I stole them from a master craftsman.

And who’s this craftsman?

He’s none other than the advertising genius Eugene M. Schwartz.

I’m reading his Breakthrough Advertising for the second time. The first time I didn’t finish it. But this time I’m determined to see the last page.

The book is quite instructive and revealing. It takes you through the planning stages of writing a winning ad. You get to know how to face any ad-writing challenge. How to start and how to finish your project. It teaches you how  to dig into your market to reveal what sells.

Right now, I wish to share with you thirty-eight headline formulas Eugene discussed in this book. Forget the excessive use of capital words and exclamation marks. Rather look for the gem of wisdom buried in each headline formula and see how you can use the lesson to write your next winner.

Here we go…

1. Measure the size of the claim:

“20,000 FILTER TRAPS IN VICEROY!”

“I AM 61 POUNDS LIGHTER…”

“WHO EVER HEARD OF 17,000 BLOOMS FROM A SINGLE PLANT?”

2. Measure the speed of the claim:

“FEEL BETTER FAST!”

“IN TWO SECONDS, BAYER ASPIRIN BEGINS TO DISSOLVE IN YOUR GLASS!”

3. Compare the claim:

“SIX TIMES WHITER WASHES!”

“COSTS UP TO $300 LESS THAN MANY MODELS OF THE LOW-PRICED THREE!”

4. Metaphorize the claim:

“BANISHES CORNS!”

“MELTS AWAY UGLY FAT!”

5. Sensitize the claim by making the prospect feel, smell, touch, see or hear it:

“TASTES LIKE YOU JUST PICKED IT!”

“THE SKIN YOU LOVE TO TOUCH!”

6. Demonstrate the claim by showing a prime example:

    “ JAKE LAMOTTA, 160 POUNDS FIGHTER, FAILS TO FLATTEN MONO PAPER CUP!”

 “AT 60 MILES AN HOUR, THE LOUDEST NOISE IN THIS ROLLS ROYCE IS THE ELECTRIC CLOCK!”

7. Dramatize the claim, or its results:

“HERE’S AN EXTRA $50, GRACE, I’M MAKING BIG MONEY NOW!”

“THEY LAUGH WHEN I SAT DOWN AT THE PIANO – BUT WHEN I STARTED TO PLAY…”

8. State the claim as a paradox:

“HOW A BALD-HEADED BARBER SAVED MY HAIR!”

“BEAT THE RACES BY PICKING LOSERS!”

9. Remove limitations from the claim:

“SHRINKS HEMORRHOIDS WITHOUT SURGERY!”

“YOU BREATHE NO DUSTY ODORS WHEN YOU DO IT WITH LEWYT!”

10. Associate the claim with values or people with whom the prospect wishes to be identified:

“MICKEY MANTLE SAYS: CAMELS NEVER BOTHER MY THROAT!”

“9 OUT 10 DECORATORS USE WUNDAWEAVE CARPETS FOR LONG LIFE AT LOW COST!”

11. Show how much work, in detail, the claim does:

“NOW! RELIEF FROM ALL 5 ACID-CAUSED STOMACH TROUBLES – IN 10 SECONDS!”

“RELIEVES CONGESTION IN ALL 7 NASAL CONGEST IN 10 SECONDS”

12. State the claim as a question:

“WHO ELSE WANTS A WHITER WASH – WITH NO HARD WORK?”

“COULD YOU USE $25 A WEEK EXTRA INCOME?”

13. Offer information about how to accomplish the claim:

“HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE!”

“HERE’S WHAT TO DO TO GET RID OF PIMPLES FAST!”

14. Tie authority into the claim:

“BOSS MECHANIC SHOWS HOW TO AVOID ENGINE REPAIR BILLS!”

“HERE’S WHAT DOCTORS DO WHEN THEY FEEL ROTTEN!”

15. Before-and-after the claim:

“BEFORE COLDENE A CHILD GOT OVER A COLD AFTER 5 DAYS OF ACHING, SNEEZING, WHEEZING, DRIPPING, SUFFERING, COUGHING, CRYING, GAGGING, SPITTING.’’

‘’WITH COLDENE A CHILD GETS OVER A COLD IN FIVE DAYS!”

16. Stress the news of the claim:

“ANNOUNCING! GUIDED MISSILE SPARK PLUGS!”

“NOW! CHROME PLATE WITHOUT HEAT, ELECTRICITY, MACHINERY!”

17. Stress the exclusivity of the claim:

“OURS ALONE! PERSIAN LAMB ORIGNINALS – $389.40!”

“ONLY GLEEM HAS GL-70 TO KEEP TEETH CLEAN ALL DAY LONG WITH ONE BRUSHING!”

18. Turn the claim into a challenge for the reader:

“WHICH TWIN HAS THE TONI? AND WHICH HAS THE $15 PERMANENT?”

“DOES SHE OR DOESN’T SHE? HAIR COLORING SO NATURAL ONLY HER HAIRDRESSER KNOWS FOR SURE!”

19. State the claim as a case-history quotation:

“LOOK, MOM – NO CAVITIES!”

“WOULD YOU BELIEVE IT – I HAVE A COLD!”

20. Condense the claim – interchange your product and the product it replaces:

“NOW! A RING AND PISTON JOB IN A TUBE!”

“POUR YOURSELF A NEW ENGINE!”

21. Symbolise the claim – replace the direct statement or measurement of the claim with a parallel reality:

“STARTING NEXT TUESDAY, THE ATLANTIC OCEAN BECOMES ONLY ONE-FIFTH AS LONG!”

22. Connect the mechanism to the claim in the headline:

“FLOATS FAT RIGHT OUT OF YOUR BODY!”

“FEEDS WASTE GAS FUMES BACK INTO YOUR ENGINE!”

23. Startle the reader by contradicting the way he thinks the mechanism should work:

“HIT HELL OUT OF THE BALL WITH YOUR RIGHT HAND,’ SAYS TOMMY ARMOUR!”

24. Connect the need and the claim in the headline:

“THERE IS ONLY ONE SOLUTION TO AN ADVERTISING PROBLEM: FIND THE MAN!”

25. Offer information in the ad itself:

“WHY MEN CRACK…”

“WHAT EVERYBODY OUGHT TO KNOW ABOUT THIS STOCK AND BOND BUSINESS!”

26. Turn the claim or the need into a case history:

      “AUNT MEG, WHO NEVER MARRIED…”

     “AGAIN SHE ORDERS – A CHICKEN SALAD, PLEASE”

 27. Give a name to the problem or need:

“WHEN YOU’RE WEARY WITH DAY-TIME FATIGUE, TAKE ALKA-SELTZER.”

28. Warn the reader about possible pitfalls if he doesn’t use the product:

“DON’T INVEST ONE CENT OF YOUR HARD-EARNED MONEY UNTIL YOU CHECK THIS GUIDE!”

29. Emphasize the claim by its phraseology – by breaking it into two sentences, or repeating it, or a part of it:

“A MAN YOU CAN LEAN ON! THAT’S KLOPER-MAN!”

“NOBODY BUT NOBODY UNDERSELLS GIMBEL’S!”

30. Show how easy the claim is to accomplish by imposing a imiversally-overcome limitation:

“IF YOU CAN COUNT TO ELEVEN, YOU CAN INCREASE YOUR SPEED AND SKILL AT NUMBERS!”

31. State the difference in the headline:

“THE DIFFERENCE IN PREMIUM GASOLINE IS RIGHT IN THE ADDITIVES!”

32. Surprsie your reader into realizing that former limitations have now been overcome:

“SEE WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU CRUSH A HARTMAN DC-8? NOTHING!”

33. Address the people who can’t buy your product:

“IF YOU’VE ALREADY TAKEN YOUR VACATION, DON’T READ THIS. IT’LL BREAK YOUR HEART.”

34. Address your prospect directly:

“TO THE MAN WHO WILL SETTLE FOR NOTHING LESS THAN THE PRESIDENCY OF HIS FIRM.”

35. Dramatize how hard it was to produce the claim:

“WHEN JENS FINISHED DESIGNING THIS CANDLEHOLDER WE HAD TO INVENT A WHOLE NEW KIND OF CANDLE.”

36. Accuse the claim of being too good:

“IS IT IMMORAL TO MAKE MONEY THIS EASILY?”

37. Challenge the prospect present limiting beliefs:

“YOU ARE TWICE AS SMART AS YOU THINK.”

38. Turn the claim into a question and answer:

“YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT’S UNDER THE HOOD AND YOU COULDN’T CARE LESS AS LONG AS YOUR CAR RUNS SMOOTHLY. WHO SHOULD YOU SEE IF IT DOESN’T?…SOMEONE WHO CARES – UNTITED DELCO.”

Did you find anything you may use in writing your next killer ad or post? Share your thoughts.  I’d be combining two or three of these formulas to produce my winners. How about you?

 

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