There Will Be Blood
Why The Right Hates McCain
It was the cover headline for Newsweek magazine (which doesn't look like it's doing too well. I say this as a former magazine editor myself. This national magazine has 68 pages, including covers, and I counted 16 ad pages. It should have a greater number of ad pages -- at least 23. And it really should have more overall pages to be profitable. It looks like Newsweek's glory days may be buried in the past.)
A few interesting points here:
- The words in the first headline are familiar, because they are the same as the title of a popular movie ("There Will Be Blood"), now playing in theaters
- I found the headline intriguing enough (even though I've heard, seen and read versions the same story several times already in the last few weeks) to shell out $4.95 on a magazine I'm otherwise not all that interested in (with put-you-to-sleep-fast articles like "Chelsea Clinton Emerges on the Campaign Trail", "Will This One Be The Change Election?" and "How to Train a Husband," to name a few.)
- The headline on the magazine's cover was so catchy that my cashier at the check-out stopped, smiled, picked up the magazine, read the headline out loud and laughed. Then she examined the images on the cover more closely, pointed at one picture, and blurted out, "Oh, look! There's a bible-thumper!"
Now we could be snide and say something like, "If they put half as much thought, effort and creativity into what's INSIDE the magazine as what's ON THE COVER, maybe they'd have more than starving-to-death 68 total pages -- and a just-scraping-by 16 advertising pages."
But let's skip that part. It's pretty rough these days putting out a print publication of any sort and making money. Seasoned pro's spend thousands of hours a week trying to figure out how to keep Newsweek (print edition) afloat, so I'm not going to second-guess them.
What I do want to point out is that headlines from proven headline structures work. They cause people to pay attention (not just me, but the cashier ringing up the magazine). And of course they induce people to buy. (With a milder, namby-pambier headline on Newsweek's cover, I might have left the magazine in the store.)
I have repeatedly said in my courses, like Breakthrough Copywriting, that the headline is the most, most, most important part of your copy. In Breakthrough Copywriting, I included twenty proven money-making headline templates with over 200 actual specific adaptations of headlines for different industries.
The course has helped many people become profitable copywriters.
But please don't think I'm claiming to be the first person to talk about the importance of headlines. Not by a long shot. Madison Avenue advertising pioneer David Ogilvy, in the 1960s, pointed out that "When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar."
Here's another important point -- if you're a major national publication, even a limping one like Newsweek, you can get away with using someone else's movie title for your headline. I don't know the specifics of the law on this one. But my suggestion would be never to copy a headline word-for-word.
Instead, adapt a familiar headline, title or other phrase by changing a few words.
If your new creation works (and I mean really works) as a headline, you have saved hours upon hours of time (not to mention blood, sweat and tears) and you can expect highly profitable results from the advertising that follows.
Publisher, World Copywriting Newsletter