Is the Big Promise Headline Dead?


If you’re on the email list of a Direct Response Marketer, you’ve probably been hammered by sales letters with a big promise. If you’re a copywriter, you may be using this tactic to engage your prospect’s attention, whether for your own services or when writing for your clients.

A flogged-to-death tactic

Big promises have been used for decades now, not just in sales copy, but also by door-to-door salespersons. It has almost become a default attention-grabbing technique for many online and offline copywriters and marketers. Many entrepreneurs also use this technique to initiate a sales conversation with a big promise.

Before going further what is a Big Promise headline? You’ve probably seen headlines like, “This magic software can help you earn ,997 in the 48 hours” or “Lose 20 Kg in 5 days without dieting”. Too-good-to-be-true promises like these have been ever so common in headlines written by even some highly respected copywriters. While the big promise headline appears to be the solution a reader may be looking for to solve a problem they may be facing, most of these are falling on deaf ears.

Why big promise headlines fail

So, why are big promise headlines failing, despite offering the perfect solution to the reader’s problem? There are a few reasons for this. Prospects have become far too sophisticated to believe in big promises. They know when a promise appears too good to be true it probably is.

Prospects bombarded with offers in the mail and through electronic media such as email and text are distracted and overwhelmed. So they’re less inclined to respond to in-the-face sales messages.

The chaotic economy we live in today and the uncertainties faced are another reason why prospects think twice before making a buying decision and an outrageously unbelievable big promise headline is a certain turn off.

Savvy marketers and copywriters have recognized the shift in consumer buying behavior and have moved away from the big promise headlines in their sales letter. While they still make a big promise in the sales copy, they do it in a far more sophisticated manner, one which is believable and is far more likely to evoke a response from the prospect. By this time the prospect reading the sales letter is already hooked.

Headlines that work

If the big promise headline is no longer effective, then what are the options? One of the ways to write an effective headline is to use market data which alleviates the pain of a problem prospects may be going through in their lives. Market data is derived from an independent source and is a lot more believable than product data which originates from the manufacturer or seller.

Another way to write an effective headline is to recognize that prospects are a lot more distracted. A headline that makes a prediction about how a typical prospect may be affected is a lot more powerful, as long as it is supported by data from relevant sources.

If your business relies on sales copy with a big promise headline, perhaps it’s time to change and adapt to the changing market. This way your business will continue to generate a steady stream of enquiries from serious prospects instead of struggling to attract new customers.

Farhad Khurshed

Founder at Copywriting-Results

My mission is to help business owners escape from the pain and embarrassment of cold calling and wastefully expensive advertising using proven direct response marketing strategies that generate a steady flow of targeted leads which can be easily converted to long-term clients. I am always looking to use creative insights to produce extra-ordinary results with the least amount of effort and financial resources. As an Exponential Copywriting Specialist, I am interested in serving business owners