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30 Proven Formulas for Writing Headlines

- July 27, 2019 11:23 pm

Tested Advertising Methods by John Capbles

As mentioned in our recent blog, The Formula for Headline Success, the book Tested Advertising Methods by John Caples is an all-time classic and must read for all marketing professionals.

Here is another excerpt from the book that I feel is essential for B2B marketers and copywriters: 30 proven formulas for writing headlines that generate results.

News Headlines

Begin Your Headline with the Word “Introducing”

  • Introducing a New Generation of Affordable Art Materials for Student Artists
  • Introducing a New Way to Help Bridge the Gap Between What You’ve Saved and What You’ll Need During Retirement
  • United Airlines Proudly Introduces Something Shockingly Amazing… Nothing (launch of e-tickets)

Work a Version of the Word “Announcing” Early in Your Headline

  • Announcing a New Selection of Video Cameras
  • Gulf Announces a New and Different Gasoline
  • An Important Announcement to Homeowners

Use Words that Have an Announcement Quality

  • Finally an Exciting New Look that Isn’t Retro Anything
  • Good-Bye Old Fashioned Air Conditioners
  • Just Published: a New Encyclopedia

Begin Your Headline with the Word “New”

  • New 10 Channel Hand-Held GPS Only from Magellan
  • New Black & Decker Electric Drill
  • New Method of Keeping Your Personal Finances

Begin Your Headline with the Word “Now”

  • Now in Paperback
  • Now… Learn Both Ways to Write for Publication
  • Now Even-Depth Tillage Is Even Easier

Begin Your Headline with the Words “At Last”

  • At Last! A Steam Iron with a “Magic Brain”
  • At Last—You Can Drive All over Europe with One Easy-to-Follow Road Atlas
  • At Last—A Toothbrush Guaranteed for 6 Months

Put a Date into Your Headline

  • Beginning June 1: Low Summer Rates at the Miami Biltmore
  • Monday Save 30% to 60% on These Books
  • Why GE Bulbs Give More Light This Year

Write Your Headline in News Style

  • The Wines You Loved in Paris Are Here
  • The World’s First Atomic Watch
  • Comfort, Warmth, Quiet and Safety – A Remarkable Heater

Headlines That Make Special Offers

Feature a Free Offer

  • Free Plato and Aristotle
  • Free Trial Lesson
  • Free Consultation

Offer Information of Value

  • Only One of These Safety Features Can Help You Avoid an Accident
  • Insider’s Guide to Old Books
  • Straight Facts on When to Take Profits

Tell a Story

  • How I Improved My Memory in One Evening
  • They Laughed When I Sat Down at the Piano, but When I Started Playing…
  • The Tallest Recycling Story Ever Told

Using Keywords in Headlines

Begin Your Headline with the Words “How To”

  • How to Bring Home the Right Home Theater Receiver
  • How to End Money Worries
  • How to Start a Backyard Garden

Begin Your Headline with the Word “How”

  • How Many a Down-and-Out Kitchen Has Been Reformed
  • How This New Invention Is Revolutionizing Concrete Construction
  • How Your Energy Curve Responds to the World’s Quickest Hot Breakfast

Begin Your Headline with the Word “Why”

  • Why These Vitamins Can Make You Feel Peppier
  • Why Your Feet Hut
  • Why Some People Almost Always Make Money in the Stock Market

Begin Your Headline with the Word “Which”

  • Which Stocks Will Outperform the S&P 500 Over the Next 12 Months
  • Which Is the Best Battery Value for Your Car?
  • Which of These 5 Skin Troubles Would You Like to End?

Begin Your Headline with the Word “Wanted”

  • Wanted! Man or Woman with Car to Run Store on Wheels
  • Wanted: Autographs and Historical Documents
  • Wanted: A Few Good Men (US Marines)

Begin Your Headline with the Word “This”

  • This Holiday Season, Stay Away from Your Relatives (hotel chain)
  • This Is the Quietest Dishwasher in America
  • This Friendly Sign… Everywhere

Begin Your Headline with the Word “Because”

  • Because Your Pet’s Quality of Life is Important to You (cat food)
  • Because Fleas Come Back
  • Because You’re Worth It

Begin Your Headline with the Word “If”

  • If They Gave Awards for Cash Management, We’d Be Thanking the Academy
  • If They Ever Build an Autobahn Stateside, You’ll Be REady
  • If People Seem to Be Working Faster, It’s Not the Coffee (office equipment)

Bonus – here’s an “if” formula that has practically unlimited application:

  • If You Think You Can’t Afford [product or service], You Haven’t Checked [special discount, leasing terms, etc.]

Begin Your Headline with the Word “Advice”

  • Advice to a Young Person Starting out in Business
  • Advice to Husbands
  • Advice to Brides

Use a Testimonial-Style Headline

  • I Was Going Broke—So I Started Reading the Wall Street Journal
  • Let Me Tell You How I Reduced for Keeps
  • Why I Cried after the Ceremony

Offer the Reader a Test

  • Can Your Kitchen Pass the Guest Test?
  • Can You Pass This Memory Test?
  • A Test of Your Writing Ability

Use a One-Word Headline

  • Diamonds
  • Bashful?
  • Sex: Now that we have your attention, here’s how to get the most money for your used text books

Use a Two-Word Headline

  • Free Money (free offer of Microsoft Money software for Chemical Bank customers)
  • Engineering Opportunities
  • Walk Softly (hiking footwear)

Use a Three-Word Headline

  • Get August Free (long distance)
  • Expand with Style (home remodelers)
  • Double Bonus Sale!

Warn the Reader to Delay Buying

  • Buy No Desk Until You Have Seen the New, All-Steel Executive
  • Read This Before You Order Your Zoysia Grass
  • Don’t Buy Maps: until you see the rep from Rand McNally in Booth 138

Let the Advertiser Speak Directly to the Reader

  • I’ll Train You at Home for a Good Job in Computer Programming
  • I Guarantee Results Worth $2,000 in One Year
  • They Thought I Was Crazy to Ship Live Maine Lobsters 1,800 Miles from the Ocean

Address Your Headline to a Specific Person or Group

  • We Take the Heart Cases Other Hospitals Won’t
  • You Too Can Beat the Market (news service)
  • To Men and Women Who Want to Retire on a Guaranteed Income

Have a Headline Ask a Question

  • What Good Are Frequent Flyer Programs If the Miles Take off Before You Do?
  • Will We Ever Run out of Trees? [forest products company]
  • Can You Find the 26 Different Products from Amway in This Photo?

Offer Benefits through Facts & Figures

  • [brand] Burns up to 79% More Calories than Ordinary Treadmills
  • Because We Recycle over 100 Million Plastic Bottles a Year, Landfills Can Be Filled with Other Things – Like Land, for Instance
  • For $5,000 Less than an [auto model], You Can Have a Feature That’s Priceless

Get B2B Copywriting Help

Since 2007, we’ve assembled a team of recovering journalists, published authors and other talented people that are deeply experienced in B2B copywriting. Put them to work for you by contacting us today.