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How to Use the Power of the World’s Easiest and Most Effective Headline Format to Turbo Charge Your Business

Notice the title for this article?

It’s a headline and it uses a shop-worn, classic format which still continues to amaze with its power.  Just 2 simple words…

How To….”

The simple, lowly “How to” headline is still tops for simplicity and effectiveness.  You really cannot go wrong with it.  The ‘how to’ headline is so versatile.  You can follow it with several benefits, a question, an offer, almost anything – and it works great!

In fact, using the ‘how to’ formula is one of the best places to start when writing headlines because it forces you to think of what your product/service actually does for the person.

Here are a couple of winning examples to get you thinking:

  • How to Collect your pension at Any Age
  • How to Get FIVE Money-Making Web Sites in 29 Minutes, or Less…Without Spending a Fortune!
  • How to Avoid the Biggest Mistake You Can Make in Building or Buying a Home
  • How to Cruise the World for £19 a Day
  • How to Get Enthusiastic Applause – Even a Standing Ovation – Every Time You Speak (Ted Nicholas)
  • How To Win Friends and Influence People
  • How to Make Your Car Invisible to Radar and Laser!
  • How to Make Your Computer as Easy to Use as Your Telephone
  • How to Fix Cars

The last winning headline on the list – “how to fix cars”…it really can’t get any simpler than that, but it works…and it works big time!

Now here are a few “how to…” headlines you can plug-in and use right away when brainstorming:

“How to” Formulas

How to get …

How to have …

How to keep …

How to start …

How to begin …

How to become …

How to improve your …

How to develop …

How to get the most out of …

How to avoid …

How to end …

How to get rid of …

How to conquer …

How to enjoy …

Even just adding the word “how” in front of a headline gives it an additional appeal.  Compare these 2 examples:

-A strange accident saved me from baldness

-How a strange accident saved me from baldness

Which one is more compelling? You’ll likely agree #2 does the trick.  And that one is a winning headline used over and over.

Okay, but maybe the tried and true “how to” is too boring for you.  No problem!  Spice it up by adding a little something before the ‘how to’

  • Here’s HOW TO…
  • Discover HOW TO…
  • If you think a 12% annual return on your money is good, here’s HOW TO set your sights on 100% or more
  • All new course reveals HOW TO use Pop-Ups to double your opt-in rate, explode your sales, and squeeze up to 300% more revenue out of each visitor to your Web site!  (Jonathan Mizel)
  • I’ll show you HOW TO hit golf shots as straight as you can point, or this video golfing lesson is free…and I’ll pay you $25 for wasting your time! (Jeff Paul)
  • Or if you still want to change it up a little – just use “How you….” or “How I…” like these winning examples:
  • HOW I earn my living in 5 hours a day
  • HOW YOU Can Make Well Over £200,000.00 Per Year As A Real Estate Agent Working Less Than 40 Hours A Week…. Have A Top Income AND A Life….. And NEVER Have To Make A Call You Dread Or Waste Your Time With Unrealistic Sellers Or Insincere Buyers, Ever Again (Craig Proctor)

To get the most bang for your buck – “how to” headlines are the way to go.

The 3 Best Headline Formats

for Increasing Your Response

The absolute best headline format is the Question Format.  Why?  Because nothing else consistently produces the kind of response that the Question Format has. It’s been tested against dozens of other headline formats, and nothing seems to perform as well.

There are two components to the Question Format:

  • determining the worst problem your customer is plagued by
  • creating a compelling question that reminds your customer how much suffering this problem causes them

Let’s take a look at each component in action.

Determining the Worst Problem

Your Customer is Plagued With

A few years ago, a headline was written to sell a course on selling professional services. It was a classic example of the Question Format.

Having consulted with service professionals for many years, the writer knew the problem that haunted them most was knowing that they provide an exceptional service, but not being able to attract enough paying customers.  In fact, research revealed that 85% of service professionals weren’t making a fraction of what they thought they’d make when they first went into business. To further complicate matters, every service professional knows many competitors who can’t match their skills, but enjoy highly profitable, thriving practices.

Creating a compelling question

that reminds your customer how much

suffering this problem causes them

To tap into this painful problem, this headline was created:

Are You Great at Providing Your Service

… But You Still Aren’t Making

As Much Money as You Should Be?

Do you see how effective this format is? If you’re a service professional and this problem keeps you up at night, aren’t you going to want to find out more – immediately.

Why the Question Format works so well…

There are two reasons why this format gets such strong response.  First, it speaks directly to service professionals who know the pain of this problem all too well.  In doing so, it telegraphs the message that I (the writer) know and understand them.  And it implies that there’s going to be a solution provides to this horrendous problem.

Second, it eliminates anyone who doesn’t have this problem. Now this is contrary to the conventional wisdom on writing copy. Most experts advise you to never say anything that will make the prospect say “No”, because as soon as they do, you’ve lost them.

Good! I want to eliminate anyone who isn’t truly a prospect for what I’m offering. Why waste time and money following up a bunch of leads that will never go anywhere? And why try to entice someone to buy something that isn’t a perfect fit for them?


If you’d like to increase the response to all your marketing, give this powerful format a try. Many copywriters claim to use it more than 80 % of the ads, sales letters, web promotions, or email campaigns they write.

The Question Format has always produced stellar results .

The 3 Best Headline Formats for Increasing Your Response”

“They laughed when I said anyone could write hypnotic headlines, but when I showed them this article….!”

One of the greatest headlines in history was written by John Caples.  It read: “They laughed when I sat down at the piano, but when I started to play!—“

You’ll find variations of that 1925 headline even today.  I’ve seen each of these several times over the last decade:

“They laughed when I said I was going to start my own business”

“They laughed when I said they could have Perfect Pitch…until I showed them the secret!”

“They laughed when I used my headphones to meditate—but when they saw the results … they all BEGGED to try it”

Why do these headlines work?

First: it’s because it is like a real person talking.  Far too many headlines sound corporate.  People want to deal with people.  A rule in selling is that people buy from people they know, like, and trust.  A first-person headline begins the process of creating a relationship.

Second: Each headline suggests doubt but promises reward.  When each headline begins, we have the audience being skeptical.  They all “laughed.”  That’s how most readers will feel when they first see your headline.  They’ll be skeptical.  But the latter part of each headline implies that you have a method that will work.  “But then I showed them…” suggests that everyone quit laughing when you offered the proof.

Third: Each headline promises a story.  Stories sell. People love stories.  A good story can subliminally communicate your message.  Each of the above headlines promises an intriguing tale.  In fact, each headline is the “once upon a time” opening to what promises to be a great story.

Don’t simply copy Caples famous headline.  Imitation isn’t the best way to create a headline.  But you can model his approach and turn it into something unique to you.  For example, a favorite headline reads, “I was nearly in tears…”

This headline was used in an email to help sell the book, “Spiritual Marketing.”  That headline became almost legendary on the Internet.  People would see the headline and almost hypnotically HAVE to read the letter to find out why the writer “was nearly in tears”.  The headline was a first person one, and promised a story.  As a result, people read it, and the book climbed the sales charts at Amazon.

Too many people in business are afraid to use “I” or “me” in their headlines.  They’ve been told that people are only interested in themselves.  So why would they care about you?

It’s true: People do only care about themselves.  But part of what they’re interested in is other people.  That’s why such best-selling magazines as “Biography” continue to captivate us.  We want to know about people.  We’re curious.

While you may not be a celebrity, you no doubt have a story to tell.  And that’s part of the secret to writing a terrific headline:

Don’t be afraid to tell your story and to include yourself in it.

Finally, the best way to think of this headline format is to imagine you’re on the phone with a prospect.  You want to tell them about your product or service.  Simply describe how you felt before you found your product, and tell how you feel now, after having it in your life.  An example might be: “I used to beat my head against the wall every month trying to create a budget, but now I just let my new software do it for me.” (For accounting software)  Or maybe: “I couldn’t sleep at night for fear of robbery, but now I sleep like a baby.” (For alarm service or system)  Or even: “I always hated classical music, but then I stumbled across this rare CD in a friend’s house.”  (For new music CD)

In short: Talk to people.  Write as if you’re talking to someone…and you’d really like them to know about whatever it is you’re writing about.  Be real.  And reveal the benefits of your business proposition in a story format.  Create a headline using those elements and you’ll be able to say:

“Everyone laughed when I tried to write my own headlines, but now they stare at me in envy…!”