Learn how to write winning headlines from David Ogilvy • Balloonline

Learn how to write winning headlines from David Ogilvy

How to write winning headlines?

Here, at balloonline, we’re always finding inspiration from the greatest in the industry. Today, our inspiration is the great David Ogilvy.

You’ve probably heard about David Ogilvy. You might even read his books. But if haven’t, here’s what you should know: he was was a brilliant marketer and copywriter and is often referred to as the “father of advertising”

Ogilvy was obsessed with learning about consumer habits. He wanted to study why people made decisions and what made them take action and buy something. His entire life was dedicated to advertising and marketing. And he often emphasized the importance of a winning headline.

Why are we talking about him? Well, we think he has some insight on how you can write a headline that will get you some clients. Here are some of the tips we found out by reading his book and researching his ads.

Take your time

“At 60 miles an hour, the loudest noise in the new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock”.

David Ogilvy
David Ogilvy’s most famous ad

This is one of the most famous ad headlines Ogilvy made. Not only that, but many people consider this one of the greatest advertisements ever written. Ogilvy himself said it’s the best headline he ever wrote. 

Do you think it was written overnight? No, it wasn’t. He wrote over 60 different headline ideas before coming up with this one. It required a lot of time and refining.

Five times as many people read the headline as the body copy.

David Ogilvy

Would you ever write that many headlines for an article or a campaign? 30? Hell, 10? Probably not. Many marketers, sometimes us included, write a headline and won’t give it a second thought. If we do, we probably just change the words around a little bit. 

balloonline note: Since the headline is the first thing your readers see, maybe you should give it more than a second thought. You should revisit your headline once you write your article. You can even take a couple of days and then give it another try.

Include a benefit

Headlines that include a benefit sell more than those that don’t.

David Ogilvy
Winning headlines from David Ogilvy
Benefit: an extraordinary experience

As a marketer, when you’re writing, you’re selling. Whether it’s an article for a blog, a campaign slogan, or a post for your social media, you are selling. Be it a story, a product, or a service, you are persuading people to read, buy or book.

Remember that you need to convince people to give you their time and their attention. And in today’s world, that is a difficult task.

balloonline note: Whether you’re selling a product or service make sure to always remind people about its benefits. People need to know why they are offering you their time, attention, and energy. They need to know what you can do for them. Winning headlines should include this.

Keep it simple

I don’t know the rules of grammar. If you’re trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language.

David Ogilvy
Simple headline, yet it delivers the message straight to the point

When we say keep it simple, we don’t say boring. What do we mean by simple? When you write an article, it needs to be easily understood and offer the essential information of the article. Think of it as a free sample you’re offering the reader before they get into the full article.

Unless your audience is academics and you’re writing scientific articles then you should keep it as simple as possible. The general public doesn’t understand pompous words. They need to learn the essential in the simplest way possible before they decide they want to read more.

balloonline note: Winning headlines are not pretentious. Using big words isn’t going to spark your audience’s curiosity or leave them wanting more. No one will understand what your article is about, and they won’t click on it.

Repeat your winners

Readership can actually increase with repetition — up to five repetitions.

David ogilvy
Similar to the Hathaway ad, the one for Schweppes has an almost identical headline. But not quite.

Now, we’re not saying that you should write about the same topic over and over again, but you don’t always have to find new ways in which you can write headlines, whether they’re article headlines or campaign headlines.

Here are two great examples of what we mean. These two articles by Tim Denning have two very similar headlines, yet the articles are quite different.

How to Make More than $100K from Writing in Less than 12 Months

You Can Make $120K+ a Year or $10K+ a Month with This Simple Online Strategy

balloonline note: Repeating your winning headlines will help you build a stronger reputation with your audience, and your articles will become more recognizable.

Now that you know what David Ogilvy did to write some of the greatest copy of all time, it’s your turn. Don’t forget to take your time, keep it simple and provide the reader with a clearer benefit. And if you ever need some extra help with your business, we’re here to do it for you.

Oh, before we go, we want to give you a bit more inspiration from David Ogilvy, so here’s more of his winning headlines.

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