Are Your Headlines Repelling Sales?

Every successful Guerrilla knows that the majority of the time you spend creating a marketing weapon, should be spent creating the headline, subject line or opening line. It's the first impression you make, often the only impression, and the rest of your marketing weapons will live or die by the quality of those first few words.  

Regardless of whether it’s a headline, subject line or opening line, it’s the first thing you say to prospects. You have seconds (or fractions thereof) that will determine if people will decide to read or hear your message or to ignore you completely.  

All Guerrillas are delighted that technology makes marketing easier than ever with websites, blogs and social media that enable them to market with even more fervor.  Pre-packaged marketing materials are available everywhere - but savvy Guerrillas never lose sight of the fundamentals and headlines are a cornerstone. It's the headline that dictates your positioning in your prospects' minds and it's the headline that will attract either attention or apathy. Nothing you say to a prospect is more important.  You have the opportunity tell your whole story in one line or to say something so intriguing that the prospect will want to hear more.

“The action you want from a headline if you’re a Guerrilla is for the reader to read the rest of the ad, then immediately order what you’re selling.”

- Guerrilla Advertising, by Jay Conrad Levinson (Kindle)

In print, you have one line to get that attention.  On radio or TV, you have three seconds, and you have those same three seconds with any sales presentation or telemarketing calls.  Win attention and interest during that brief period or you won't win it later because there will be no later. 

Now that your thinking about the importance of headlines, here are 20 hints to help you create Guerrilla winning ones.

  1. Know that your headline must either convey an idea or intrigue the reader or listener into wanting to learn more.
  2. Speak directly to the reader or listener, one at a time, even if 20 million people will be exposed to your message.
  3. Write your headline in newsy style.
  4. Use words that have the feeling of an important announcement.
  5. Test headlines that start with the word "announcing."
  6. Test headlines that use the word "new."
  7. Put a date in your headline.
  8. Feature your price, if you're proud of it, in your headline.
  9. Feature your very easy payment plan.
  10. Announce a free offer and use the word "free."
  11. Offer information of value right in your headline.
  12. Start to tell a fascinating story; Guerrillas know that marketing really is the truth made fascinating.
  13. Begin your headline with the words, "How to."
  14. Begin your headline with "why," "which," "you," "this" or "advice."
  15. Use a testimonial style headline.
  16. Offer the reader a test.
  17. Use a huge one-word headline.
  18. Warn the reader not to delay buying.
  19. Address your headline to a specific person; every day there are specific individuals who want exactly what you are offering.
  20. Set your headline in the largest type on the page and start your verbal presentations right with the headline.


Take some time to review your headlines or opening lines in all of your marketing, such as:

  • Print ads
  • Letters and postcards
  • Websites
  • Sales videos
  • TV spots
  • First statements made by sales reps
  • Search results
  • Infomercials
  • Radio commercials
  • Brochures
  • Directories
  • Trade shows and catalogs.

Be sure that you’re not just looking at what your headlines are saying – take the time to look at what your competitors are saying also.


A reader or listener is looking to be stopped by something and if it's not your message it will be someone else's. In such an atmosphere, Guerrillas thrive.  Headlines and opening lines are your initial bonds to your prospects. Bend over backwards to be interesting, authentic, believed and to convey your idea.

“The starting point for Guerrilla Advertising is not a headline, a graphic, a special effect, a music track, or a spokesperson, as in most humdrum advertising.  Instead – it’s an idea – something that is often missing from run-of-the-mill advertising.”

- Guerrilla Advertising, by Jay Conrad Levinson (Kindle)

Headlines that draw attention away from the idea and prime offering to be humorous or shocking typically fall flat quickly.  Equally, boring and indirect headlines sabotage thoughtful copy, brilliant graphics and stupendous offers. There are far more terrible headlines than great ones so make sure you’re the one getting your prospects attention.

Although a company cannot achieve greatness solely based upon their headlines and opening lines, without solid first impressions, its growth will be seriously impeded.  Guerrillas make sure their own headlines always get noticed, generate readership, attract responses, and result in profits.

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