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Client-Attracting Lessons from A Legendary Headline

by Tom Ruwitch

Here are two headlines, one a winner, the other a dud.

Headline #1: “The Man Who Simplified English”

Headline #2: “Do You Make These Mistakes in English?”

The winning ad ran for decades atop an advertisement for a book called “How to Master Good English in 15 Minutes a Day.” The book was written by Sherwood Cody (the man who simplified English). According to the ad, Cody developed a new and simpler way to learn grammar.

The ad with the winning headline sold mountains of books.

The other headline was tested against the winner. But it generated half as many sales as the winner so it landed in the trash bin.

Which is which? Which headline generated twice as many sales as the other?

The answer: “Do You Make These Mistakes in English.”
A copywriter named Max Sackheim wrote that headline and ad copy. It was one of the most successful direct response advertisements ever. And it reveals lessons that can help you write better client-attracting copy.

Why was one headline so much better than the other?

Because “The Man Who Simplified English” screams “Look at me!” It’s all about Sherwin Cody. The winning headline was about the prospect.

The great adman and copywriter John Caples dissects the competing headlines in his book “Making Ads Pay — Timeless Tips for Successful Copywriting.”

Caples says the “The Man Who Simplified English” is written “...from the wrong angle.”

Caples calls this “manufacturer’s copy” because it emphasizes the manufacturer, the seller.

“The manufacturer is simply saying, ‘Look at me! Look at what I did! Look at what a great guy I am,” Caples writes.

Caples calls the winning headline “self-interest copy” because it reflects the prospect’s interest.

It speaks directly to the prospect and implies valuable information will follow.
Your copy will captivate prospects if it reflects their story.

Small business marketers often get this wrong. They create content that screams “Look at me!” instead of copy that stars the prospect.

The best marketing shines the spotlight on the prospect. It reflects their experience. It crafts a story they can relate to. It invites them to say, “Yeah! That’s me.”

When prospects relate to your headlines and stories, you captivate them. They itch to know what happens next. They read on. They’re more likely to buy.

Tom Ruwitch is the CSO (Chief Story Officer) at Story Power Marketing and the author of a free eBook, “Hall of Fame Advertisements Reveal: 5 Storytelling Secrets to Captivate Prospects and Inspire Them to Buy,” -- available for immediate download at


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