How Do You Get Their Attention?

Writing strong headlines and subject lines is one simple way to improve the results of your marketing.
Headlines are vital for successfully marketing your business.  A headline has power! And if you want your marketing to succeed, you need
to unleash this power in every single campaign you do.

90 percent of the success or failure of any sales offer is the headline!

Just like Sylvester’s one-man band, the subject line of your emails and the headlines in all your marketing need to have the same effect – to get the attention of your reader and have them pay attention and then take action.

Headlines go on ALL your marketing.  Email subject lines, in house print marketing, social media posts, direct mail, newsletter articles… whatever you are creating to get the attention of customers or potential new customers.

An average of five times as many people read the headlines as read the body copy of marketing. So, if your headline doesn’t sell, you are wasting 90 percent of your money. You can write the most incredible copy and have the most irresistible offer, but if no one reads it, it is like your lips are flapping and nothing is coming out. You need to grab people by the eyes and force them to read what you have to say about your business.

Studies show that effective headlines outperform ineffective headlines by as much as 17 times, and that is with the exact same body copy!

You are probably most familiar with the headlines in your local newspaper or those celebrity magazines at the grocery check out.  They are what grab your eye and entice you into reading the article. Your ad or marketing piece is no different. Your headline is the ad for the ad. It is what draws attention to your advertisement. You need it to be compelling.

Consider it as a fire alarm on paper. It should attract the customer’s attention, spark their curiosity and COMPEL them to keep reading to find out more.

Why should anyone pay attention to your marketing?

Why should the person you most want to respond pay any attention to it?

A headline should be at the top of your ad in big bold letters. You want it to be irresistible. You want the person reading it to say “what’s this all about” and then keep reading to find out. 

Your Logo, Pictures Or The Name Of Your Business Are Not Headlines!

Good headlines can be controversial, promise a benefit, state the offer, be a testimonial – but most importantly they are intriguing.

Here are the key headline considerations:

  • Appears at the top in a larger, bolder font, possibly a different color
  • Attracts attention, invokes curiosity and compels the audience to read more
  • Might communicate a strong benefit, ie. What problem does it solve?
  • Focus on the customer – answers the audience’s question, “What’s in it for me?”
  • Might state the offer “Get a FREE XXX when you YYY!”
  • Could be controversial, funny, or ironic
  • A compelling testimonial can be a great headline
  • A logo is NOT a headline! Position logo and merchant name secondarily only to identify the sender
  • When possible, personalize it with the person’s name (ie in email, direct mail)
  • Align with the offer: Ensure your headline aligns with the content or offer you’re presenting. Misleading or mismatched headlines can diminish trust.
Focus on benefits, not features:
  • A feature is a fact about the product or service
  • A benefit is the reason that fact is important, the positive impact it will have, the result or problem it solves
  • TIP: To translate features into benefits, answer the question “So what?”


The fundamental of writing headlines that make your cash register ring is to identify the biggest benefits of your operation in your
customer’s perspective.

Here are 26 provocative words and phrases that Ted Nicholas likes to use in a headline.   He says the safest headline begins with “How To”.

advice to
secrets of
the truth of
How much
how would/to

facts you
do you
at last
And the two most powerful headline words:



Here are a few examples of headlines that work  (NOTE: to make them work for YOU they need to speak to your specific audience, what do they want and need?).

“How to [Achieve Desirable Outcome] in [Specific Timeframe/With Specific Benefit].”
“[Number] Ways to [Desirable Outcome/Benefit].”
“Discover the Secrets of [Desirable Outcome/Benefit].”
“The [Adjective] Guide to [Specific Topic/Benefit].”
“Unlock the Power of [Desirable Outcome/Benefit] with [Product/Service/Method].”
“The Truth About [Controversial/Intriguing Topic].”
“[Number] Secrets/Tricks/Tips to [Desirable Outcome/Benefit].”
“The [Desirable Outcome/Benefit] Blueprint: [Number] Easy Steps to Success.”
“The Ultimate [Solution/Tool/Guide] for [Specific Problem/Benefit].”
“Why [Something Unexpected] is the Key to [Desirable Outcome/Benefit].”
Who Said There Is No Such Thing As A Free Lunch?
Is Your Fridge Empty?  What Are You Going To Eat For Dinner Tonight?
Who Else Hates ______________ And Wants An Extra Hour A Day To Relax?
Don’t ___________ Until You Read This
Local Business Owner Swears Under Oath________
They Didn’t Think I Could _______ But I did.
They Laughed When I _______________ – But Not When I _______________.
Who Else Wants  _________?
Be honest with us, we can handle it
Are you missing us? Let’s reconnect
We need to have THE TALK
Hey! Are you still here?
You’ve been missing out…

Get creative, test and repeat: Direct response marketing is all about testing and optimizing your headlines to improve their effectiveness. Experiment with different variations of headlines, track their performance, and make adjustments based on data and customer feedback.

Remember, writing effective headlines takes practice, and your skills will improve over time. Continuously study your results to see what resonates with your audience and pay attention to the headlines in other businesses’ marketing to see what grabs your attention that you can tweak and use.

By focusing on creating compelling headlines, you can improve the overall performance of your marketing efforts, increase engagement, and drive more positive results for your business.