February 9, 2021

So far, we have discussed the first two parts of creating a headline, which are:

  1. Mass desire: This is what drives your prospects through life
  2. State of awareness: This is your prospect's present state of knowledge about your product and the satisfaction that your product performs.

In this post we will be covering the last part you need to complete your headline, which is:

  • The State Of Sophistication: This Lets you know how many similar products your prospect has been told about prior to yours.

The state of sophistication can be easily determined by a simple a google search. A google search should give you samples of every competing ad in your Market--if there are any.

Why is knowing the state of sophistication important?

Knowing the sophistication of your market sets you apart from your competitors and keeps your claims fresh and believable for your prospect.

Your job is to figure out which stage of sophistication your product or service is in, so you know exactly what you can and can't say in your headline.

In the following we will discuss the varying stages of sophistication:

*Please note in this blog I will be using the word "product”, but this word can be easily exchanged for the word "service".

First Stage of Sophistication: Being first in your market

Like the first stage of awareness, writing a headline for the first stage of sophistication is very easy.

If you are the first in your market, with your particular product or service - then you are dealing with prospects that know nothing about your product. In other words, they have no sophistication about your product or similar products.

Three main ways to be first in your market:

  1. By being part of a new technological breakthrough
  2. Reaching a market through an untapped medium (online, phone, tv)
  3. Discovering a previously unnoticed performance of a product and using that as a main selling point

How to create a headline for an unsophisticated audience: 

  • Be simple
  • Be direct
  • Name either the need or the claim in your headline nothing more
    • Example of what could have been said as the first ever weight loss ad
      • "Lose Fat Now!"

Second stage of sophistication: Beating the Competition

If you're second in your market and if a direct statement of the claim is still working (ads are converting)- then use that successful claim and enlarge on it. In other words, outbid your competition.

For Example:

  • Direct Claim: "lose fat now" 
  • Enlarged Claim: "Lose 40lbs in 30 days"

The enlarged claim is more exact and shows your prospects that your product does more, in less time, than the competitions. 

Toward the end of stage 2 the successful claim is overworked to its limits. We have all seen this with weight loss ads. As more and more competitors enter the field each promising more. Words begin to lose their meaning. "lose 40 lbs in 30 days" doesn’t have as strong of an effect. Prospects become confused then skeptical. They no longer believe the claims and sales start to decrease and that’s when you move into the third stage of sophistication.

Third stage of sophistication: Regaining Trust

Your prospects have now heard every single claim. 

Every-time they go on Google or Facebook another similar headline screams out at them. "Lose 30 pounds in 2 weeks"

Your prospect still has the desire but they no longer fully believe in any of the claims. This is why repetition or exaggeration of the same old claim won’t work any more.

Your prospects need a new way to satisfy that old desire and you need to make the claims fresh and believable again. You need to give them a new mechanism- a new way to making the old promise work. 

How to Create the headline: 

Here the emphasis shifts from what the product does to how it works.

In other words the headlines goes from stating the claim to stating the mechanism (how the claim is accomplished).

  • From the claim headline: "I am 61 pounds lighter ...never a hungry minute"
  • To the mechanism headline: "First wonder drug for losing weight"

In the second stage, the entire headline was taken up by the main claim.

In the third stage, this arrangement is completely reversed. The Mechanism is placed in the headline, which is then followed by the claim. 

When creating the headline you first have to start with making the old claims fresh and believable again by featuring the mechanism in the headline. Doing this establishes a point of difference. The old claims are overused and now what sets you apart from the competition is the mechanism that accomplishes the claims. 

Example headline: "Melts the fat away"  

The fourth stage of sophistication: Overcoming Old Limitations

The fourth stage of sophistication is a new stage of elaboration and enlargement. 

This time the elaboration is concentrated on the mechanism rather than on the promise like in stage two of sophistication. 

  • Previous headline: "Melts the fat away"  
  • After elaborating on the mechanism: "First no-diet weight loss wonder drug"

Basically, in the fourth stage we elaborate or enlarge upon the successful mechanism your competitors are already using. 

Make your claim easier, quicker, surer; allow it to solve more of the problem; overcome old limitations and promise extra benefits!

Fifth stage of sophistication: Reviving a Dead Product

Eventually, you will start to notice that no new mechanism or claim will help you increase conversion. 

It's because the market has grown tired of your promises and the mechanism by which they are accomplished. 

This is when you know, you have reached the fifth stage of sophistication: Where all products and services ultimately end up.

In the fifth stage of sophistication your market no longer believes in your advertising and therefore no longer wishes to be aware of your product.

Here, the emphases shifts from the promise and the mechanism to identification. 

You are writing a identification headline. You are capturing your prospects attention by identifying with him. 

Your goal here is to bring your prospect into your ad by vividly expressing who they are in your headline. You can do this through symbols and phrases. 

  • Example Headline: "Why Men Crack"- this is a identification headline for a energy supplement. They identify with the prospect who is a hard working family man, who wants to provide the best for his family and his only draw back is not having enough energy to do it. That's where this companies solution comes in, which is the caffeine pill. 

The fifth stage of sophistication requires a unique solution and is a tough headline to write. 

combining awareness and sophistication together to create your headline

This part is easy. You take the awareness of your prospect and combine it with the sophistication. 

The question you ask yourself: What is my prospect aware of and how many similar products have they been told about before yours. 

  • If they are aware of the desire you put the desire in the headline (lose weight) then you research the sophistication and look at how sophisticated your prospect is. 
  • If they are very sophisticated, that means they have seen every claim and have grown tired of them by now. This is when you state the mechanism that accomplishes the claim.
  • If you're the first in your market simply stating the claim is perfect (lose 30lbs before your next vacation!)

Jennifer Tiwana

Jennifer has experience in Journalism, Writing and Editing for National News Networks such as the Globe and Mail. Student of Leading Marketing and Advertising Experts such as Russel Brunson, Dan Kennedy, Joseph Sugarman, and John Caples. Responsible for Sales Letters that have generated over $500,000 in Revenue.