From the desk of Scott Martin, direct response copywriter, Aspen, Colorado.
Gary Bencivenga and His Headline Secret
I’d like to continue this series about what you can learn from Gary Bencivenga, now retired, and generally considered one of the greatest copywriters of all time, certainly in the 80s, 90s, and into the 21st Century.
Bencivnega rarely spoke but I was fortunate that a client bought me the videos of Bencivnega’s retirement seminar. These cost $5,000 and if you feel like reading the over 30,000 words of copy selling the DVDs, you can click here. No affiliate commission here, in case you're wondering.
Let me divulge something from the DVDs when it comes to headlines. Bencivnega talked about the inspiration for many of his headlines: book titles. Take a look at book titles and you can get a sense of what Bencivnega was talking about.
How to Work From Home and Make Money in 2017: 13 Proven Home-Based Businesses You Can Start Today (Work from Home Series: Book 1) Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change 15 Minutes to a Better Interview: What I Wish EVERY Job Candidate Knew
What are we seeing here?
An all-out “how to” headline. Numbers (specificity) in the headlines. The “tease” factor. Intrigue. Classic headline techniques.
There’s an irony here. Book publishers are among the WORST marketers on the planet. That’s based on my personal experience with this book I wrote. I sometimes wonder how any of them make any money. I wrote a VSL for a client. The VSL sold an ebook about dementia. The client was selling 1.5 million of these ebooks a month. That would put the book at the top of EVERY bestseller list on the planet for several weeks.
Now … there are lots of super-weak book titles. Take a look at these.
Leaders Eat Last The Player: Target: The Executive Suite Principles: Life and Work The One Page Marketing Plan
Look at the first three. What do they mean? What’s the benefit? What’s in it for me? The final one offers a bit of a benefit but the premise is not believable … especially to someone who is in marketing.
Now let’s take a look at some direct marketing book titles.
The Direct Mail Solution: A Business Owner's Guide to Building a Lead-Generating, Sales-Driving, Money-Making Direct-Mail Campaign. Direct Marketing Doesn't Have to Make Sense, It Just Has to Make Money. Confessions of a Direct Response Copywriter: An “Old School” Advertising Man Reveals How to Make Your Marketing Twice as Effective at Half the Cost - ... Secrets of Success in Business and in Life.
Better book titles/headlines … especially those long ones; the latter is for a Bob Bly book so it's no surprise the title is excellent.
I’m working on a book about copywriting and I’ve chosen the title based on a believable benefit. It’s based on a headline template I like to use.
So … the next time you’re in a bookstore … or your looking at a book site, take a few minutes to rate the titles/headlines. Put the good ones in your headline templates.
Scott Martin Direct Response Copywriter