Where to find headline fodder that calls out your prospect

Apr 28, 2021

Issue #128—April 28, 2021

These days I’m making an effort to waste less time on Facebook, but now and then I’ll while away some time doing so. And it sometimes leads to a valuable idea.

Case in point: the other day someone shared a post that asked you to name the #1 song on your 21st birthday. I shared it and my answer with my Facebook friends (note: I only accept friend requests from people I know in real life).

Finding out the answer is easy to do: you just Google “#1 hit” and the date of your 21st birthday, and voila…instant nostalgia!

But this fun exercise can be useful for more than just nostalgia (assuming it’s been several years, or decades, since your 21st birthday).

You can also use this “trick” for coming up with headline fodder that speaks directly to your target prospect.

By weaving in a recognizable song lyric from your avatar’s youth, you bring forth those waves of nostalgia from “the good old days”. Those good feelings help prime your prospect to receive your message and make them more likely to read on.

You also make it clear that you’re talking to THEM. It’s a way of calling them out, and also connecting with them and building trust. It says, “This is for you! I know you. I’m one of you.”

It also brings in a degree of “infotainment”…a promise that what they’re about to read will be enjoyable in some way as well as valuable, and not a slog to get through.

I just received a direct mail magalog yesterday that does all of this in the main headline and deck copy, while tying it in with a key benefit and unique mechanism of the product. I’ll share it in just a moment.

But back to the headline fodder idea…which you can easily incorporate into an email subject line, headline above a VSL, or a main headline on a sales or landing page.

Let’s say your target prospect is someone between the ages of 55 and 75, like it is for many products and niches, especially supplements or financial newsletters.

Start at the midpoint: age 65, and then look at the Billboard Top 100 hits for their prime youth years, say between 18 and 22. So you’d look at the top hit list for 1974 through 1978 as a starting point. That gives you 400 songs right there to draw from.

You might want to look up some of the lyrics from the main choruses if you’re not familiar with some of them…especially those top 10 hits.

Then see if you can tie any of them in with your product, big idea, or main promise.

For example, a quick search through top hits during those years I just mentioned offer up some good fodder for a male potency supplement: “Night Moves” by Bob Seger, “Tonight’s the Night” by Rod Stewart, “Feels Like the First Time” by Foreigner, or “Love Machine” by The Miracles.

Got an anti-aging or energy product you’re promoting? Maybe you’ll be inspired by “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing” by Leo Sayer, “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees, “Don’t Stop” by Fleetwood Mac, or “Time in a Bottle” by Jim Croce.

You never know where this goldmine of copy ideas could lead you. At the very least, you may enjoy reminiscing on some popular songs of your youth, or discovering some you’ve never heard!

Now, let’s take a look at that promo I mentioned earlier that arrived in my mailbox yesterday…

What’s in Kim’s Mailbox?

Let’s take a look at the front cover of this self-mailer magalog I received from Healthy Directions (the supplement business I helped launch and run many years ago when I worked at Phillips Publishing)…

Now, if you’re under age 40, perhaps you don’t “get” this main headline the way it’s intended.

It’s a play on a song called “Let Your Love Flow”…which was a top Billboard 100 hit by the Bellamy Brothers back in 1976.

This headline RESONATES with the target prospect who’s anywhere from their mid-50s to mid-70s. Plus, combined with the strong visual, instantly communicates the main benefit of the product.

You want all of this to “click” in the crucial “read or toss (or delete)” moment when your prospect first lays their eyes on your front cover, email subject line, or top of page.

If they’re concerned about blood flow and they’re in your target demographic, you’ve gotten their attention, and built trust and belief right off the bat.

Now let’s take a close look at the deck copy below the visual. “…tiny one-pill wonder” instantly elevates the product and gives it “hero” status, while overcoming a common objection to supplements: swallowing handfuls of “horse pills”.

“…gives your heart a surge of youthful energy” casts a wide net of promising various heart benefits as well as more energy and turning back the clock.

And it brings in the unique mechanism and a speed of result promise with the rest of the deck copy: “…in MINUTES, boosts blood flow 62%…” Note the specificity of the blood flow increase promise, and how it contrasts with “minutes” (which could actually be closer to an hour, but you can still say “minutes”).

Then it brings in this “hero” status of the “tiny one-pill wonder” again by saying it “replaces over a dozen expensive supplements you take for…” and then broadens out to a long list of various health concerns (all expressed in compliant, non-disease terms).

Also note the credibility boosters like having the doctor’s photo and caption at the top, the masthead with the Caduceus symbol adjacent, and the seal-like graphic in the bottom right corner that says “Cardiologist Developed!”

Now let’s take a look at what you see when you turn the page…

As you can see, they DELIVER on all of the different health concerns this “tiny one-pill wonder” can help with. Look at that “table of contents” and you’ll get a glimpse of how this 24-page magalog and long-form sales letter is structured.

They incorporate a few testimonials here, including the one at the top (which was apparently for a previous version of the product, but they handle that in a way that works–and that was able to keep their legal counsel happy).

I do feel some of the copy could be stronger for each of the “sections” in the table of contents…building in more curiosity that makes you feel you just HAVE to turn to that page right away. There’s not a lot of space to work with here, but every word has to count.

The mini-bio at the bottom of the page is well-done…though the print is quite small and would likely lead to a reading challenge for many of the folks who get this in the mail. I’d tighten it up and take out some of the “fluff” that’s not as compelling.

Okay, we’re going to look at one more page…the one that follows (page 3). This lets you see how they’re setting up the rest of the promo that follows…

Because the “tiny one-pill wonder” has already been featured on the front cover, it makes sense to pick up with it here at the top of page 3. It also allows for introducing the product that’s being sold early on…and building up its hero status throughout the promo.

Note how just about any opportunity to play up the fact that Dr. Stephen Sinatra is a cardiologist and M.D. is taken advantage of, like in the byline.

It leads with a big promise of helping you “feel young for 80 years or more” while carrying forward the idea that this can replace 13 or more supplements (as long as they’re not other Healthy Directions supplements! lol)

By introducing the product early, they can also use their sales volume as proof as well as the social proof they’ve gotten from people who’ve used it. They’re making it sound like this is the hot new thing that everyone’s taking…so if you’re not, you’re missing out. Talk about using FOMO in your copy!

Once again, it ties in the big overriding promise to all of the 13 specific health concerns…and then connects them to that unique mechanism and speed of result promise on the front cover.

There are at least 9 ingredients in this formula, and they’ve ordered the flow and “real estate” throughout the promo strategically in a way that makes it easy to read and “digest”. It also justifies the price point of $39.99 a bottle.

Let’s take a quick look at the order form on the inside back cover…

As Healthy Directions has done with other control promos, they use a single bottle offer that allows the prospect to order as many or as few bottles as they want, rather then potentially getting “stuck” having to choose between 1 vs.3 vs. 6 bottles. (note: autoship offers in direct mail generally don’t work–at least with this older crowd).

They’re also offering a slew of valuable bonuses, including a free bottle of Vitamin D3 (a relatively low-cost premium, especially since they’re shipping it with the product), free shipping, and a bonus report for fast response (which probably everyone gets anyway).

Also note how all of the main benefits and big promises are summarized in the acceptance copy at the top of the page, re-selling the prospect once again and confirming their purchase decision.

Hope this issue of Copy Insiders and this latest “What’s in Kim’s Mailbox” breakdown helps let your headline ideas “flow”!

I’m getting my second Covid vaccine shot tomorrow, so I’m blocking out time the rest of the week to take it easy in case I get any symptoms.

In the meantime, please take a moment to complete the survey I sent out yesterday if you haven’t done so already. You’ll find it here.

Yours for smarter marketing,


P.S. Writing this week’s issue made me reminisce on what I did on my 21st birthday. I ended up getting on stage at a bar called “The Blind Lemon” in the Mt. Adams neighborhood of Cincinnati and playing “Stairway to Heaven” on the keyboards.

I wrote about how I tried out for the Charm School talent show with that song here and how I wanted to relearn how to play it. I still haven’t made much more progress with the song–gotta work on those chords!

Maybe I’ll have time while I recover from Covid vaccine “flu”…if I’m not sleeping! (-;