It's Not the Length of the Headline, It's the Strength That Counts

Share this content:
Chris Marlow's letter about headline length in your May 24 issue quotes the classic, "They Laughed When I Sat Down at the Piano, But When I Started to Play!" John Caples not only wrote that headline, but also what is probably the classic book on advertising copy, "Tested Advertising Methods," which I was honored to revise and update in 1997. His advice on headline length was, "A long headline that really says something is more effective than a brief headline that says nothing."

In the foreword to the previous edition, David Ogilvy wrote: "[John Caples] taught me most of what I know about writing advertisements. For example:

1. The key to success (maximum sales per dollar) lies in perpetual testing of all the variables.

2. What you say is more important than how you say it.

3. The headline is the most important element in most advertisements.

4. The most effective headlines appeal to the reader's self-interest or give news.

5. Long headlines that say something are more effective than short headlines that say nothing.

6. Specifics are more believable than generalities.

7. Long copy sells more than short copy."

I learned most of what I know about copy writing from those who'd been taught by Caples, though I didn't realize it until I edited his book! It's not too late for the current generation to stop writing long enough to read it and learn a bit more, too.

Fred Hahn,


Next Article in Marketing Strategy

Sign up to our newsletters

Company of the Week

Brightcove is the world's leading video platform. The most innovative and respected brands confidently rely on Brightcove to solve their most demanding communication challenges because of the unmatched performance and flexibility of our platform, our global scale and reliability, and our award-winning service. With thousands of customers and an industry-leading suite of cloud video products, Brightcove enables customers to drive compelling business results.

Find out more here »

Career Center

Check out hundreds of exciting professional opportunities available on DMN's Career Center.  
Explore careers in digital marketing, sales, eCommerce, marketing communications, IT, data strategies, and much more. And don't forget to update your resume so employers can contact you privately about job opportunities.

>>Click Here

Relive the 2017 Marketing Hall of Femme

Click the image above