How to use the best pulling headline in the history of direct response advertising to boost your response
For over 40 years it was completely immune to control beaters yet any advertiser can channel its psychology with equal power today
Maxwell Sackheim may have written it over 80 years ago, yet it continues to wield tremendous power to this day. No direct response ad ever came close to its four decade plus staying power.
Even the Olympian copywriter, Gary Bencivenga, pulled this headline out of his file in the 1995 ad: “Do You Make These Mistakes in Job Interviews?”
Exactly what accounts for its stunning success?
It’s the word: “these.”
By itself, the word “these” is rather harmless looking. Paired with the word “mistakes” it creates a vortex that sucks the reader into the body copy.
You’ve got to find out what these mistakes are. Since the advertiser knows which specific mistakes, he must know the answers as well. And if he’s got the answers, then he must be an authority.
The word “these” in this veteran ad is a textbook example of a headline proof mechanism. Claims are a dime a dozen but linking powerful proof to a claim in your headline magnifies the pulling power of your ad exponentially.
All this subtle yet potent psychology begins to work on the reader before her eyes read the first word of body copy.
The combination of authority and curiosity work forcefully together. And almost any advertiser can harness this power. Some examples:
- Do You Make These Mistakes in Estate Planning?
- Do You Make These Mistakes in Direct Marketing?
- Do You Make These Mistakes Choosing Vitamins?
You get the idea.
Of course, there are limitations here.
Don’t expect to beat an A-list writer’s control-package headline by swiping, no matter how successful the original. Nevertheless, this strategy can be tremendously successful for 95% of everyday advertisers. You can also try this when a headline isn’t performing or when you want to breathe new life into an old and tired ad.
Notice the great subheads Max Sackheim uses, the powerful benefits you’ll get from taking the course, and the promise of almost instant results. Everything works together like an ensemble as all great ads do.
It’s interesting to note that Sackheim took many earlier swings at the plate for this client with only ordinary results. Once he got the right headline, no ad writer on the planet could conquer it for an astonishing four decades.
Here’s and enlarged version of “Do You Make These Mistakes In English?”