Punch up your headline with Phrases that Sell

Phrases that Sell

Compare these two headlines:

  1. Wonderland
  2. Possible? Yes!

#1 is the headline I composed last week in Write a headline for your cell phone ad. It was the best one I could think of at the time.

#2 is modified from an idea in Phrases That Sell : The Ultimate Phrase Finder to Help You Promote Your Products, Services, and Ideas.

I think #2 is way better.

I bought Phrases That Sell because:

  • I frequently get stumped when I try to write text for my ads.
  • Reviews by copywriters seem to indicate this book is one of their secret weapons.
  • It was only $10.

The second reason is especially important since a key piece of our strategy here at TBYB! is to borrow the tools that advertisers use to persuade us and deploy them in the service of our own goals. Here are excerpts from a couple of their reviews on Amazon:

As a professional copywriter I will tell you that this is an excellent book and you would be well advised to have it at hand every time you write anything that is important to you — especially sales letters and advertising material.

I have used the previous book “Words that Sell” as one of my secret copywriting tools for years.

Phrases That Sell is designed to be a reference book – a compendium of over 5,000 effective persuasive statements, organized by topic. From the back cover:

By browsing the pages of this unique resource, the writer will be bombarded with phrases and concepts that will provide ideas, stimulate creativity, and give new direction to the work in progress.

As I flipped through the book a lot of the phrases certainly seemed familiar. Even more familiar was the overall tone; immediately recognizable as the language of advertising – crisp, direct, energetic, sometimes powerful, always appealing to your self-interest and narcissism.

I browsed a few of the categories looking for ideas for the Wonderland Trail ad on my cell phone. Some of the topics like Fun, Healthy, Nature and Travel were directly relevant to a hiking trip. Others were more abstract, like Choice, Imagination, Opportunity, Sensory delights, and Unique. Below are some possible headlines I was able to find in just a few minutes. Notice how every single one of them has more energy than my original idea: “Wonderland”:

  • Adventure calls
  • Live your dreams
  • Welcomes life’s adventures
  • ___ for your soul
  • Lives life with passion
  • Shoot for the stars
  • Ready for anything
  • Experience it for yourself
  • Experience all the benefits
  • It’s a must-see!
  • Meet the challenge
  • Paradise found
  • An experience that will touch your soul
  • Beyond all expectations
  • You’ll love every minute of it
  • We make your fantasies happen
  • Adventure calls
  • Celebrate life!
  • Easy, fun, and effortless, too
  • Get the most out of life
  • Go a little wild
  • Wow! What a blast!
  • Lose the weight you want
  • Even better than you thought possible
  • Unlimited possibilities
  • Surpasses all your expectations
  • Take your next step
  • It begins by taking the first step
  • It’s worth all the trouble
  • The adventure begins here
  • Is this possible? Absolutely!
  • Yes, you can!
  • The answer is “Yes!”
  • You’ve come to the right place
  • Closer to paradise
  • An enchanted landscape
  • Pack and go
  • Be different, be better
  • Get more of what you want in your life
  • Reach any goal you want
  • Reaching new heights

Hiking the Wonderland Trail seems like a very large, difficult, perhaps unattainable goal at this point so I chose the phrase “Is this possible? Absolutely!” to start my campaign. That’s exactly the message I want to be delivering to myself at this stage of the process. The greeting slot on my cell phone screen only allows 14 characters of text so I edited that phrase down to its essence: “Possible? Yes!”

What impressed me was how easy it was to pull out that list of over 40 great potential headlines. Obviously it contains many other phrases that I can modify for use in this campaign, as it progresses. Before Phrases That Sell, the text usually felt like the weakest part of my ads because I didn’t know what I was doing. Now I have one of the same tools the pros use on my desk.

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  1. Ernest
    Posted September 20, 2007 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    I love this idea! I am a marketer myself and this is a gem.

    I’ll add my $.02 as much as I can.



  2. Lynn
    Posted September 20, 2007 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    Thanks, Ernest – welcome aboard!

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