Quick Tip:
John Forde on Headlines


Are you vexed by "bimbo profits?"

That's the name I'm giving lately to a phenomenon that's overwhelmed the direct-mail driven newsletter industry.

Especially for financial newsletters.

See, when times were good, it was easy to slap a big fat promise into a headline – "How To Turn Your Lunch Money Into A Jillion Plus Change… Virtually Overnight!" – and get away with it. Headlines that were as substantial as a jiggly B-movie worked gangbusters.

But those days have gone.

It was only a matter of time. Why?

Because "bimbo headlines" – headlines that over-promise and under-deliver – have an inherent flaw. Either they betray trust up front, when the body copy confesses the deceit. Or they betray it on the tail end, when the product proves it can't live up to the challenge.

It's okay to write strong, strong headlines and make huge promises. In fact, it's desirable. Being intentionally wimpy is no way to sell. Just make sure the product is really as great as you say it is. That's always been a rigor of the industry, of course.

But in these times – when customers feel a little jaded by the market fallout, a weaker economy, and political crisis – it's especially important to show (not tell) them how honest and credible you really are.

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Published: March 25, 2002

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