Beth Wampler

Article Summary:

How to write more effective direct marketing headlines by studying some of the classics.

Direct Marketing Headlines: Learning From The Classics

Thanks to direct marketing's exact measurability, marketers have long tracked what works best and what doesn't. Control packages, simultaneous mailings with different offers, running the same ad in different publications, list tests and other tactics enable us to get exact answers to the question of not only did something work, but how well?

Here are several of the "classic" headlines from direct marketing packages or advertising that have worked successfully for years:

1) "They laughed when I sat down at the piano."

2) "Do you make these mistakes in English?"

3) "How A Man of 40 Can Retire in 15 Years"

4) "Quick Relief for Tired Eyes"

5) "When Doctors Feel Rotten This Is What They Do"

How can you use the principles behind these classics in your headlines? Here are the reasons behind the effectiveness of each one:

a) Create empathy by acknowledging the fears of your audience.

b) Don't give prospects a yes/no question. Use a mysterious "these" to intrigue them to want to find out more.

c) Use specifics to make your promise realistic and unforgettable. How much more memorable is the headline 3) above than simply offering "Retirement Planning" to your prospects?

d) Play off a well-known and common problem of your target market and make sure your product is the "quick relief."

e) Use testimonials to make it real. People love to learn insider secrets and real-life stories.

Every one of these headline classics can be tweaked to work for a high-tech product, financial service, vitamins, non-profit, realtor, etc. How could you adapt them to sell your product?

Beth Wampler has more than 22 years experience in marketing and advertising, including the last 14 as the Owner and Creative Director of AOR, Inc. in Denver, CO. AOR stands for "Agency OFF Record," which is a mutant hybrid between a boutique design firm and a strategic ad agency. Her expertise is in helping business owners and managers define their brand, develop marketing plans, ad campaigns, lead generation and sales incentive programs. Check out AOR's work and slightly twisted philosophy of marketing at, or sign up today for AOR's Free Marketing Ideas Newsletter

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