In advertising headlines are essential to nail.
David Ogilvy (advertising master) put it this way:
“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. It follows that, if you don’t sell the product in your headline, you have wasted 80% of your money.”
As a copywriter, I take those words very seriously.
One of the ways that I have trained to be good at writing headlines is by reading the very best. I have in my computer a “Swipe File” of some of the most successful that have ever been used.
But one stands out above all the rest.
Want to hear it?
Here it is:
“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. – Luke 2:10-11
I hope you didn’t just see a bible verse and tune me out. I have never seen anything, in any article, pamphlet, ad or website that even comes close. Even if you don’t believe in God, you still cannot deny the genius of this. Let me explain why by breaking this verse down.
1. Look at the opening words – “Fear Not”
In advertising emotion is everything. The key to driving sales is all about tapping into emotion and touching the heart. Advertisers have to pay attention to what it is that people are struggling with and going through. “Fear” is common to us all. Who when they read the words “Fear Not” & “Great Joy” is not immediately shouting an “Amen”? Saying, “Whatever comes next, is something that interests me. I want in!”.
It means “Look at this!”, “Stop what you are doing and pay attention”. It is a strong call to action to listen and be amazed. Right from the get-go this verse pulls no punches.
3. “I bring you good news”
Did the angels read John Caple’s “Tested Advertising Methods”? This is one of the top ways headlines grab the reader’s attention — by announcing NEWS. By declaring that something has just arrived and you need to get in on it.
I hope you are paying close attention dear reader. You are in the major leagues now. Did I mention that these are angels saying all this?
4. “you …for all the people… For unto you”
Who is the target? Everyone. Who are the angels speaking to? The shepherds (notice the personal pronoun “you”).
Not only is it on target, but it gets even better — it is not just news for “you”, but news for “you to share”. It’s giving someone the privilege and honor of being the first in line and then letting them take over sharing your message — “This is for you. Now here go tweet this!”
5. “…is born, in the City of David, a Savior”
Ultra-specific. There is no guesswork here. You never have to stop and think, “What is this about? What exactly is being offered?”. It is all made clear from the very start.
6. “is born…is Christ the Lord”
Notice the use of the present tense.
This is happening right now!
There is no time to delay.
This is about your whole life.
Of course, any good headline is measured only by its result or impact right? Well to date this message is the most shared message in the entire world and is still growing.
I want to write like an angel. Don’t you?