May 27

John Carlton on Copywriting: Perfect Headlines


carlton_on_copy_image_2John Carlton defines a perfect headline and tells you how to create one.  He tells what a successful ad needs to accomplish.

Your headline will be perfect, you’re opening sentence will be perfect, every sentence in your offer will be perfect when you cannot take out a single word without damaging the comprehension of that sentence.

So, if you see a word in there, and I don’t care if it’s a noun, verb, or whatever, there’s a lot of mumbling going on in a lot of writing.  Mumbling takes people back to that passive state. We have words, like power words, like good words. They are the tools we use to bring people out of that passive state into a semi-active state. You want them agitated. One of the best testimonials I’ve ever gotten, and I’ve gotten many of them, are along the lines of “D**n you Carlton, I am not going to buy anything because I’m not the kind of guy that buys from ads.  But then I woke up at 3 am and couldn’t get back to sleep until I called and ordered”.

That’s a successful ad.  It gets into their head, works down into their emotional sweet spot, works the passions, doesn’t let them get un-agitated.  All we have are words.  You can’t actually reach out and throttle them.  A lot of teachers talk about reaching out from the page and grabbing them.  They like to say that in the big agencies.  But they don’t know what they’re talking about.

What they’re talking about is shock value, at best.  Shock value gets your attention.  After that, all you have are words to be able to bring them in, hold them, and move them through what we call the “greased slide” of the sales process.  Working them down to the point where you want them to be.

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