Entrepreneurs used to pay over a thousand bucks for the out-of-print book.
Because there’s nothing like learning from the master.
Years ago I got a copy with an interlibrary loan from Tennessee, then photocopied the whole darn thing.
And until the Boardroom Books republished his masterpiece, Gene Schwartz’s “Breakthrough Advertising” was almost impossible to get.
Even then, marketing gurus recommended that you didn’t try to read it until you’d been in the marketing biz for a year or two.
Because it’s so deep and dense, you need some experience under your belt before you try to tackle it.
So what did Schwartz have to say about headlines?
In fact, Chapter 4 is called, “38 Ways to Strengthen Your Headline Once You Have Your Basic Idea.”
And since more and more entrepreneurs are crowding onto the internet every minute, if you want to stay relevant, you have to keep upping your game or you might as well pull over in the breakdown lane and let everyone pass.
So here’s a headline refresher from one of the greatest marketers in history.
Tips and Tricks for Creating Hellaciously Powerful Headlines
We’ll just go through a few of the 38, but we’ll hit the high points and include a couple choice tidbits from some of our own marketing campaigns — including one that pulled in $400K+ in just over 2 weeks.
OK, here’s the first from Gene Schwartz, including a couple examples from his ads.
You can use them to strengthen a headline you already have, or create one from scratch to fortify the claims you’re making about your product or service.
“MEASURE THE SIZE OF THE CLAIM”
By this, Schwartz means you should use, as Zig Ziglar loved to say, meaningful specifics instead of wandering generalities.
Because specifics immediately create credibility, whereas generalities like, “We see a ton of people at our seminars,” are too loosey goosey and appear to be made up or an off-the-cuff estimate.
So here are a couple examples from Schwartz’s ads:
20,000 Filter Traps In Viceroy!
I Am 61 Pounds Lighter…
Who Ever Heard Of 17,000 Blooms From A Single Plant?
As you can see, it’s all about strengthening the claims you’re making.
Another way to do that is to use one of my favorites…
“METAPHORIZE THE CLAIM”
As you know, metaphors are an incredibly powerful and efficient way of conveying information, because a picture is worth a thousand words.
But it’s not only the picture, metaphors create a dual track in the brain by engaging verbally and with images, which gets more of the prospect’s neurology involved.
“The greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor. It is a sign of genius, since a good metaphor implies an eye for resemblance.
A couple of Schwartz’s headlines with metaphors are:
Pick Yourself a Fortune from the Money Trees
Turns up your “Digestive Furnace and burns flab right out of your body!
Melts Away Ugly Fat!
Don’t Pay a Penny ‘Till This Course Turns Your Mind Into a MENTAL MAGNET
Every cell of your face has a ”clock” in it! Here’s how to wind those clocks backwards!
Remember, when you pick the right metaphor, you compress feelings, images, memories… even smells and tastes… into one simple image or idea that explodes in your reader’s brain.
Next, and in the same vein as the metaphors above, here’s another of Schwartz’s secrets for powering up your headlines and subject lines by engaging the senses…
“SENSITIZE THE CLAIM BY MAKING THE PROSPECT FEEL, SMELL, TOUCH, SEE, OR HEAR IT”
Again, the more you can involve the prospects whole psyche, the more they’ll be engaged with your ads.
So here are a couple more headlines from Schwartz that latch onto the senses:
Tastes Like You Just Picked It!
The Skin You Love to Touch!
How To Stroke Wrinkles Right Out Of Your Face!
AT LAST! INSTANT RELAXATION!
BURN DISEASE OUT OF YOUR BODY… lying flat on your back, using nothing more than the palm of your hand!
OK, before we get to the next Schwartz strategy, here’s a checklist we give our members when they’re brainstorming to make their headlines and subject lines more eye catching. We tell them to use…
- Open loops (i.e., mini cliffhangers)
- Outrageous Claims
- Urgency and Deadlines
- News and Current Events
- Twists on Common Expressions
- Twists on Aphorisms (wise and witty sayings)
- Movie Openings
- Famous People
- Fairy Tales
Now more from Schwartz:
“MEASURE THE SPEED OF THE CLAIM”
Again, we’re boosting the power of the claims you’re making in your subject line or headline, this time by adding a time frame, like this…
IN TWO SECONDS, BAYER ASPIRIN BEGINS TO DISSOLVE IN YOUR GLASS!
DO YOU HAVE THE COURAGE TO EARN HALF A MILLION DOLLARS A YEAR?
FEEL BETTER FAST!
LET THIS MACHINE WORK ON YOUR MIND FOR ONE EVENING… and I guarantee that your friends will gasp in astonishment at the feats of “Mental Magic” you can perform that very next morning.
NOW! RELIEF FROM ALL 5 ACID-CAUSED STOMACH TROUBLES — IN SECONDS!
RELIEVES CONGESTION IN ALL 7 NASAL PASSAGES INSTANTLY!
When there’s any kind of time frame, especially if it’s fast, prospects immediately work out how long it will take before they get the golden goodies, which is another kind of engagement with your ads.
Here’s another one from Schwartz:
“STATE THE CLAIM AS A PARADOX”
This one is like an NLP pattern interrupt because your brain has to stop when things don’t follow the usual logical order, “Say what?”
HOW A BALD-HEADED BARBER SAVED MY HAIR!
Use Your Newspaper to Boost Your Child’s Grades
BEAT THE RACES BY PICKING LOSERS!
HOW TO LEARN WITHOUT STUDYING!
NO-DIET REDUCING with New Wonder Drug for Fat People
WORK ALL YOU WANT! And be a BETTER WIFE and MOTHER because of it!
And here are a couple of ‘paradox’ subject lines from the campaign the $400K campain:
Write BETTER Sales Letters on the Beach with Your iPhone
Lighten Up and Jack Your Sales to Mars
NLP Marketing Traitor Says, “Don’t Learn NLP
OK, a few more quickies from Schwartz:
“STATE THE CLAIM AS A QUESTION”
Who Else Wants A Whiter Wash — With No Hard Work?
Could You Use $25 A Week Extra Income?
“TIE AUTHORITY INTO THE CLAIM”
Boss mechanic shows how to avoid engine repair bills!
Here’s what doctors do when they feel rotten!
“CONDENSE THE CLAIM, INTERCHANGE YOUR PRODUCT AND THE PRODUCT IT REPLACES”
NOW! A ring and piston job in a tube!
Pour yourself a new engine!
“CONNECT THE MECHANISM TO THE CLAIM IN THE HEADLINE”
Floats fat right out of your body!
Feeds waste gas fumes back into your engine!
“STARTLE THE READER BY CONTRADICTING THE WAY HE THINKS THE MECHANISM SHOULD WORK”
“Hit the hell out of the ball with your right hand,” says Tommy Armour!
That’s it, go grab the book to get the whole tamale.
But before you do, why not apply for our FREE business analysis and strategy session?
We’ve got far more in-depth training in all aspects of copywriting.
Even better, we’ll show you why great copywriting is only part of the puzzle.
In other words, we’ll show you how to make your beautiful headlines PAY.