Marketers will say that the point of a headline is to get the reader to read the next line. But sometimes a headline can be so powerful it compels people to read every damn word about your product.
Even if the body copy fails and they leave thinking “it’s too expensive” a great headline can linger in their mind and bring them crawling back to you days or weeks later.
Here’s an example of a headline that worked that way on me. I saw it, read all about the company, decided it was too much, then came back weeks later and bought their $27,000 program.
What made it so effective? It was a big, clear promise offering exactly what I wanted.
(If you’re thinking “that’s great buy my offer isn’t as sexy as that” don’t worry. The rest of this post will help you craft something equally enticing for your audience.)
When you need your headline to work…
A good headline captures attention. A great one resonates so deep your reader tears through your sales page with reckless abandon. It can make up for copy mistakes later because they’re so hungry to learn about you and your offer.
While there are plenty of headline types and formulas (you can ask a question, give a command, start with a story, etc.), headlines that focus on offering a massive promise or benefit are a great fall back on when you need a winner. They’re low-risk, high reward.
Putting a big benefit in your headline isn’t a groundbreaking idea, yet the sales pages I’m hired to critique get this wrong again and again. It’s why you look around and see so many hype-filled headlines or vague, lifeless promises that make every business look the same.
If you’ve got a sales page you need to convert, here are the 3 keys of Big Promise Headlines that suck your reader in and guides them to the sale. After showing you these, you’ll get the simple steps for creating your own Big Promise Headline. You’ll even get a proven template you can use to craft a winner in under 5 minutes.
Key #1: A big, specific promise
Even when people know they should include a benefit in their headline they tend to make it too vague. A productivity coach may have a headline with a promise of “Reach your goals!” or “Be more productive!” and leave it at that.
It’s an okay start. But what does reaching your goals or being more productive mean? What does that look like?
People are coming to your sales page with a specific problem and they want a specific solution or outcome. They don’t want to “reach their goals”, they want to lose 10 pounds. They don’t want to “be more productive”, they want to cut their workdays down from 9 hours to 6.
Here’s an example from a Nightingale Conant sales page (they have some of the best copy in the game) on how you can do this well. They start off with a vague promise of what it’s about. Then they drill deeper into what that means by showing how their solution is specific to the reader’s problem.
Here’s another example from the same market from online marketing giant Eben Pagan. Instead of vague “get more done in less time!” promise he makes it clear and specific.
Big, specific promises make your headline more compelling by speaking directly to your reader’s pain and dreams. The specifics also make that big promise sound more believable.
Key #2: A specific timeframe, method, or both!
Now there’s something in the two examples above you may have noticed that I didn’t talk about.
They include a specific mechanism unique to them.
If you’re ever wondering “How do I write headlines that sound different from everyone else?” this is your ticket. The moment you introduce a custom formula or method you become an authority with exclusive information they can’t get anywhere else.
Here’s an example from a sales page for a personal development retreat.
There are plenty of programs promising “empowerment”. But how many use the trademarked process of Neurosculpting? Just this one, baby!
Even if they’ve done stuff like this before, they’ve never done it this way. So they read on, skeptical yet hoping to find a reason to believe this is the answer they’ve been searching for all this time.
How to use timeframe’s to build desire
The other trick for making your product unique is to use a timeframe. This promise implies that you have a unique method or strategy they can’t get anywhere else. It also makes your promise more specific (and therefore, believable) and desirable (because it won’t take much time.)
Here’s a headline from Eugene Schwartz making a big promise, then showing the exact time they’ll achieve the desired result:
Another way to use time-framing in your copy is to show how much (or better yet, how little!) time they’ll put into it. If your product can get them the benefit they want in way less time than they’d expect, call that out in the headline.
Here’s an example from a Mindvalley sales page promising to change your life in only 20 minutes a day (underline is mine):
Including time frames makes your promise easier to believe. When it comes after your promise, it adds curiosity (“how is that possible?”) that keeps the reader engaged in your pitch.
Key #3: Overcome the objections
People are skeptical of what they read online. The moment you make a big promise, they’re going to come up with reasons why “it could never work for me”.
In the dating market, where I write a lot of copy, you hear the same excuses over and over. “I’m not rich, not in shape, not good looking, too old, women don’t want a guy who was divorced, etc.”
Here’s a successful headline from legendary copywriter Gary Halbert where he calls out two of the biggest objections right in the headline (underline is mine):
By making a big promise and then calling out their biggest objection, they’re going to read on to see how it’s possible.
The three steps in action
Let’s play a game. Imagine you’ve got a program that helps people get rid of their headtrash and take on more positive mindsets.
They can apply this to any area of life. Business, relationships, self-confidence, etc.
This is the exact kind of product that lends itself to vague, sweeping promises that try to appeal to everybody (and therefore appeal to nobody.)
Nightingale Conant sells a Tony Robbins product like that. Here’s how they crafted a captivating healine using the keys above:
They tightened the focus to promising wealth. Then got specific about what that meant by narrowing the focus even more to retirement (which would appeal to their older audience.)
Then they added a timeframe of how long it’d take each day. Followed by overcoming the objection that: “I don’t want some retirement plan that makes me pinch pennies all day”.
Here’s a look at the headline they used:
By including a big, clear promise, a specific timeframe, and easing the doubt and objections that immediately crosses their mind, they’ve crafted a headline that will get the reader to dive into their sales material.
Crafting a headline is a bit like building a house. First, you need the raw materials, then you can start piecing everything together.
The following will help you do exactly that. You can blend these elements together as you see fit, or work them into the template I provide on step 5 to crank out a solid headline in 5 minutes or less.
- Write out the top 5 benefits your product offers. Which one is most desireable? (Ideally you want to focus on one but if you have 1-3 that are all highly desirable you can work with that, like in the Eban Pagan example above.)
- What are real life examples of what that benefits look like? What experiences will your clients have as a result of your product they wouldn’t have otherwise? (Write 3-5 example, such as “make high-powered friends easily at networking events”.)
- What’s the smallest amount of time in which your client gets results? How many hours per day/week/month does this take? (If you don’t have a compelling timeframe, try giving your method or technique a special name instead. More on that here).
- When you make your big promise to your clients, what are the 1-2 biggest objections that pop into their head?
- Put the pieces together. Here’s a great template you can use:
How to (BIG PROMISE) in (TIMEFRAME) even if/without (OBJECTION)
Example: How to land 10 quality dates this week even if you’re socially awkward
You know this formula works because it got you reading this far, didn’t it 😉
Bonus: How do I know if my headline is any good?
One of the best ways I know to make sure my headline is good (besides showing it to people) is to read other successful headlines and see if the one I’ve written gets me as excited and curious as the proven winners.
That’s why I created a special report with 68 of the best headlines in the personal development market. This includes dating/relationships, productivity, mindset changing, entrepreneurship, social skills, live events and workshops, and a bunch more. All from the best writers and companies in the game.
(This is also a great thing to read before writing your own headlines so you can get the juices flowing.)
I’m still in the process of making this collection of winning personal development headlines look pretty so it’s not ready for download just yet. If ya want it shoot me an email and I’ll hook you up in a few days when it’s ready. [email protected]