How to Write Potent Headlines | Content for Biz


Lessons on writing headlines from legendary ad man David Ogilvy are relevant to writers of blogs, websites, articles and social media posts.

Written by Joanne Costin

I think advertising man David Ogilvy would have enjoyed online marketing for the instantaneous feedback it provides.  His rules about advertising weren’t based on opinion, but years of research.

As he famously said:

“Five times as many people read the headline as the body copy. If you haven’t done some selling in your headline, you will have wasted 80 cents out of your client’s dollar.”

Rule No. 1: “The headline is the ticket on the meat.”

Ogilvy promoted the use of keywords in the headline,  before keywords were keywords.
“If you are selling a remedy for bladder weakness, display BLADDER WEAKNESS in the headline. If you want mothers to read your advertisement, display MOTHERS is your headline.”

Rule No. 2: “Every headline should appeal to the reader’s self-interest.”

Ogilvy insisted headlines provide a benefit to the reader. If your headlines aren’t offering a benefit, scrap them.  A reader may not care that your machine has new engine (feature), what he cares about is five percent greater fuel efficiency (benefit).

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