Secrets to How to Write a Better Ad — The value of a compelling headline

Let’s face it; everyone who advertises wants to learn the secrets to how to write a better ad.  That’s the point of promoting your practice, to grab your patient’s attention immediately; so as to develop dependable, steady streams of new patients, and maximize your return on investment.


Learning “the secrets” of how to make a better ad would mean that you would never again have to play advertising roulette with your ad budget!  The key to an effective ad begins with a captivating headline!  Headlines play monumental roles in the strength of your ads.

Your goal needs to be to have predictable results every time you run an ad.  Your ad must be a salesperson in print, online, on the radio, in the television ad, etc.  A weak or non-existent headline works as a highly skilled and master saboteur against your advertising effort!

Unless your display ad convinces a patient to pick up the phone and call you or come into your office, your ads are useless.

Unfortunately, many Chiropractic display ads all look alike and say the same things, such as: “Free Consultation,” “Adjustments,” “Family Oriented Practice.” All important points on their own merits; unfortunately, in most ads, the only elements that change are the name of their practices.

To have your next patient pick up their phone and call you, your ad must stand out and be different!  Worst still, some chiropractors only state their name in their ad.  What benefit does a potential patient derive from this information? Absolutely nothing!

There is an absolute law that applies to all advertising (from the consumer’s point of view):  The client (all clients) only cares about one thing: “What’s in it for me?” (WIFM).  Otherwise defined as individuals exercising their own self-interests.

Your ad needs to quantitatively enumerate reasons why a patient “MUST” choose you over everyone else providing the same service.

There’s a secret your advertising sales representative (the person representing the particular vehicle in which you advertise) won’t tell you.  When your ad appears, or is heard, your competitor’s ad will also be seen or heard in that medium.

When you advertise, you are competing in an arena where there are multiple competitors for the available clients.  Highly successful and profitable display ads have very specific things in common, they include:

A Great Headline A Compelling Sub-Head What Makes You Unique?
Offer Specific Benefit Make a Decisive Offer Include a Call to Action

Though many media forums provide the basic elements of these key ingredients, too often, they [the media outlets] simply provide some variation of a cookie-cutter formula for “advertising success.”

* It is important to stress that there is nothing wrong with a generic advertising format; so long as it yields the intended results!  If, however, if you aren’t getting the responses you expect and need, then you must re-evaluate your message!

The importance of a headline –

Fact, up to 95 percent of all Chiropractic ads have no headlines.  Multiple marketing studies, covering several decades, reflecting consumer’s buying habits demonstrate that fully 80 percent of all potential patients only read headlines when deciding which company to use.  Further, it has been pointed out in these many studies:

Secrets to How to Write a Better Ad

Multiple marketing studies, covering several decades, reflecting consumer’s   buying habits demonstrate that fully 80 percent of all potential patients only read headlines when deciding which company to use.

Further, these studies show that the utilization of a headline makes your ad more powerful!  To illustrate the point, we will use this culinary metaphor; your headline is the main ingredient in a great meal!

* Many of these studies also show that: your headline can increase your display advertising pulling power by as much as 2,000 percent!

* Moreover, world-renowned marketing experts confirm that marketing study numbers are accurate when stating that the headline credit for up to 80 percent of an ad’s effectiveness.

A great headline will compel a patient to read your ad. They will be magically drawn to it; therefore, after nailing down your headline, offer strong incentives for patients to call you, like:

  • Offer specific benefits — Tell them what’s in it for them. The only thing potential clients want to know is how they will benefit from using your services.
  • Have an offer — It’s amazing that hardly any chiropractic practices’ display ads include any offer or incentive to use their services immediately.

These same marketing studies point out making a compelling offer can increase your response by as much as 400 percent. It will set you far above your competition in the display ads.

Every industry has some guideline concerning advertising. However, within these regulations, with a bit of ingenuity, you should be able to excel.

  • Testimonials -This is one of the most effective advertising strategies, yet hardly ever utilized. What satisfied clients say about your business practice is more important than what you say about yourself.  In your ad, invite new patients to visit your site and see what others say about you.

Additionally, testimonials are a well-kept secret resulting in huge profits for advertisers who take advantage of the immense power and credibility that comes with these endorsements.  Use technology; it is easier than ever to set up and post these vital endorsements on the front page of your website!

As you gather your testimonials for display, use your top 20% patient base that represents 80% of your profits. Your patients should focus on how your services have worked and the individual results they achieved. This will be a vehicle to develop the emotional side of what you did for them and how you impacted their professional and personal lives.

We realize that display ads (whether online or in print) sometimes offer limited space. However, properly structured, you should be able to include these vital items.

To illustrate the importance of a solid headline, writer Jeff Goins wrote an excellent article called the “5 Easy Tricks to Help You Write Catchy Headlines.

On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.
David Ogilvy

In a world full of noise, how do you get people to read what you write? It takes more than good content or great design. The most important part of writing an article is the headline.

According to Mr. Goins, the same principle applies to blog posts, book chapters, and so on: The title is where your focus should be. You should begin and end every article with the question: “Would this make me want to read on?”

So, how to write catchy headlines, too often, the headline is the most neglected part of writing an ad or article. People just gloss over it without taking much time to consider it. In their minds, it’s the cherry on top. No, friends; it’s not. The headline is the sundae.

Use numbers – There’s a reason why so many copywriters use numbers in their headlines. It works.

* Do an experiment: Go to the grocery store, and scan the magazines in the checkout lane. Look at the front-page article headlines. It doesn’t matter if it’s a fitness magazine or a tabloid; many of them will be using numerals to start off the headline.

There aren’t any rules (as far as I know) regarding what numbers work best, but people typically only remember three to five points. That said, sometimes an obscure number like 19 or 37 can catch people’s attention.
Use interesting adjectives

Here are some examples:

Absolute Effortless Essential Free
Fun Incredible Painstaking Strange

Use unique rationale –

If you’re going to do a list post, be original. For example, consider the following:

Facts Ideas Lessons Principles
Reasons Secrets Tricks Ways

If possible, never use things. Please, for the love of Pete, don’t use things. You can do better than that.  Use what, why, how, or when.

These are trigger words. I typically use “why” and “how” the most, because I’m often trying to persuade or enable someone. Typically, you’ll use either a trigger word or a number. Rarely does it sound good to do both triggers.

Make an audacious promise –

Promise your reader something valuable. Will you teach her how to learn a new skill? should you persuade her to do something she’s never done before? Can you unlock an ancient mystery?

What you want to do is dare your reader to read the article. Without over-promising, be bold. Be seductive (in the most innocuous way possible, of course). Be dangerous. And then deliver what you promised.

Here’s a simple headline-writing formula:

Number or Trigger word + Adjective + Keyword + Promise

Example: Take the subject “bathing elephants.” You could write an article entitled, “How to Bath an Elephant” or “Why I Love Bathing Elephants.

Or you could apply this formula and make it: “18 Unbelievable Ways You Can Bathe an Elephant Indoors.

Another (more serious) example: Take a bold promise like “selling your house in a day.”

Apply the formula and you get: “How You Can Effortlessly Sell Your Home in Less than 24 Hours.

People don’t want to be tricked into reading something boring; they want to be drawn into something exciting. Make it worth their while.

Take extra long time to consider what headline will grab people’s attention the most, and make sure that it describes your content in an honest, but attractive, way. They won’t regret it, and neither will you.

The whole purpose of investing your budget on an ad is to get the patient to read your ad and call your number.  However, if your ad doesn’t attract attention, then the rest of your ad won’t be ready either.  Therefore, will have not only wasted your money, but you’ve missed out on untold amounts of money from future patients who really needed and wanted your services.

Again, an effective headline attracts attention, communicates a strong benefit, and answers the question, “What’s in it for me?” A headline acts like a marquis for a movie theater and selects the right audience. Identify all the benefits of your service from the patient’s point of view.

We understand that learning and applying these vital techniques for the growth of your practice takes time; and as a busy medical provider, you may not have that time to spare.  However, if you can get away from the frenzy of your practice for just a few minutes, we may have an excellent solution for you in order to solve many of your promotional concerns!

We invite you to learn how Steve and Claudio can help you immediately increase the success of your practice, give them a call at 916.750.6319.

From the desk of Steve Cox, co-founder of,

Direct: 916.750.6319; personal email:

12 Replies to “Secrets to How to Write a Better Ad — The value of a compelling headline”

  1. Having read this I thought it was really enlightening. I appreciate you finding the time
    and effort to put this content together. I once again find myself spending way too much time both reading and leaving comments.
    But so what, it was still worthwhile!

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