How to Write Headlines That Don’t Sell

Despite common wisdom, a headline should not be written to sell. But if you want to sell anything to anyone, you have to learn to write powerful headlines. How could this be? The secret to writing headlines that sell lies in understanding that a headline is a doorway…into your copy. Its primary purpose is to incite curiosity in your reader and to communicate the value of your offer, promise, or idea.

“Nobody reads ads. People read what interests them. Sometimes it’s an ad.”

Howard Gossage

Here’s is what a headline is not:

A headline is not meant to be read like poetry.

A headline is not written to sell.

A headline should not be confusing.

Read on for some examples of powerful headlines.

The 4U’s of Powerful Headlines

source: Awai Advanced Copywriting Course
  1. Unique (Special thing) How is this different?
  2. Useful (Value) What can I do with it?
  3. Ultra Specific (How, What) What will I be able to do?
  4. Urgency (Reason to act) Why should I  get it?

There is a new railroad across America and is making some people very rich…

~ Porter Stansberry

Unique- What’s this railroad is making people money?

Ultra specific- None. I still don’t know what I have to do to become very rich too.

Useful- I could make money

Urgency- The prospect can cash in on the opportunity right away.

Central idea: Don’t miss out on a great opportunity to make a lot of money.

It has more oil reserves than Exxon and you can own it now for $1.60 a share.

Unique- I can own something bigger than Exxon?

Useful- I can own it for $1.60 a share!

Not specific-What has oil reserves? It incites curiosity. I want to know more.

Urgent- Own it now.

Central idea? If you want to profit from natural resources you need the insider’s advice.

Save $1,580 dining out. Just flash one of these cards and you’ll automatically save up to 30% at 1870 restaurants worldwide.

Ultra specific- Save $1580 and 30% money dining out. 1870 restaurants

Useful- save money dining out

Unique- what’s this card?

Urgency-  I don’t want to miss out on the offer. But no urgency

Central idea: Eat out and save money

“The easiest way to make 10 million while learning to improve your health.”

Ultra specific- Make 10 million

Unique- Improve your health while making money


Useful – Improve my health

Central idea: Getting paid to improve your health.

Apply this Nobel Prize-winning method of futures investing and turn 500 into 48,000 in 30 days.

Ultra specific- Futures investing 

Unique- What’s this prize-winning method?

Urgency- In 30 days

Useful- I can make money.

Central idea: You can turn a quick profit by using a special method for investing.

Use this Method to Sell Anything to Anyone Starting Now.

…Learn the secret that’s making some people rich.

Unique- What’s this method that I can use?

Urgency- Start now

Useful- I could use it to sell more 

Ultra-specific – A method to help me sell.

What do you think of these headlines? Do you have any favorites that you’d like to share?

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