How to create a BEST headline formula

“Everything rises and falls on leadership” John Maxwell says. No where is this truer than in marketing copy. Every form of marketing hangs on the copy that is written. The copy hangs on its leader which is the headline.  If your copy is the most persuasive but has a revolting headline your great copy will achieve nothing. It will fall flat on its belly and it risks a prematurely lost sale. That’s fatal for your business. A failed marketing campaign is like a fish, which rots from the head, that is  the campaign  headline.

If you have to write a persuasive email or letter to sell anything don’t ignore the headline. Don’t take it for granted. It’s a thread upon which the success of your campaign hangs onto.  With a headline you have one chance of making the first impression. Don’t blow it. Daniel Nick an author and expert healthy copy writer writes in his book the Healthy Copywriter  that for a headline to really work it should achieve four essential goals:

He calls his headline formula the BEST formula. The headline he argues should be Beneficial,  Extraordinary, Specific and Time sensitive.

Beneficial headline

One great motivator in life is the: “what is in it it for me headline?” I have seen many professionals miss this concept many a times. I have seen it missed even by management in a unionized environments. Managers would make decisions that looked great on paper for the organisation and tried to push their agenda without considering what the benefit would be for the employees. Quite often the proposals were always rejected. This was because managers didn’t understand this concept of what is in it for me.  This is a very strong persuasive concept. Before you compose any persuasive memo or letter don’t be selfish. Consider the other party’s needs and benefits. After don’t all benefits sell?

Great benefit headline

The copywriter has to seriously consider all the benefits of the proposal but more importantly the greatest benefit that the prospect desires and values the most. It’s no easy feat but like a detective the copy writer has to investigate the benefits till they get the most valued and include that in the headline.

The purpose of the headline is to advertise the great benefit in the marketing piece. Whatever it is, this maybe an advert, a sales letter or simply a web page.

Extraordinary headline

The promise in the headline should be something new on the market or or previously unheard or unseen by the market.

Specific headline

Your claim in the headline must be very specific.  Be specific in mentioning what your product or organisation does, for whom and how long it will take to start seeing the benefits.

Time sensitive headline 

Whatever promise you give in the headline or the copy give your audience reason to do something now. Urgency is essential in headlines to drive action today and not later. If you leave room for your prospects to do something later it might as well not be done.

Whatever form of content your business or organisation uses to market and sell invest in writing good headlines, Daniel Nick’s Best headline formula might prove to the best. Excuse the pun.

Written By Aubrey Mavhuli

Chief Copywriter at

Whatever questions you have on headline writing or just copy writing feel free to drop me a line and ask.