How to write great headlines for your ads (part 1)

The difference between advertising and personal salesmanship lies largely in personal contact. The salesman is there to demand attention. He cannot be ignored. The advertisement can be ignored.

But the salesman wastes too much of his time on prospects whom he can never hope to interest. He cannot pick them out. The advertisement is read only by interested people who, by their own volition, study what we have to say.

The purpose of headline is to pick out people you can interest. You wish to talk to someone in a crowd. So the first thing you say is, “Hey there, Bill Jones” to get the right persons attention.

So in an advertisement. What you have will interest certain people only, and for certain reasons. You care only for those people. Then create a headline which will hail those people only.

Perhaps a blind headline or some clever conceit will attract many times as many. But they may consist of mostly impossible subjects for what you have to offer. And the people you are after may never realize that the ad refers to something they may want.

Headlines on ads are like headlines on news items. Nobody reads a whole newspaper. One is interested in financial news, one in political, one in society, one in cookery, one in sports, etc. There are whole pages in any newspaper which we may never scan at all. Yet other people might turn directly to those pages.

We pick out what we wish to read by headlines, and we don’t want those headlines misleading. The writing of headlines is one of the greatest journalistic arts. They either conceal or reveal an interest.

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