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The Simplest Definition Of A Hook And A Headline: Stop-N-Slide!

The first two pieces of your copy will be a hook and a headline. The former is packed with stopping power. The latter greases the slide…

I used to think the hook and headline were the same things; interchangeable names for the same elements in an ad or sales letter.

Now…they can be the same element. I’ve heard people call a hook “the headline” and the headline “the hook.” And that’s fine. It isn’t wrong if that’s how the copy was written.

You’ll see right now just how these are different…

Gene Schwartz

In one of Gene Schwartz’s most famous pieces, this was the hook and headline:

Sneaky Little Arthritis Tricks: With Natural Foods and Do-It-Yourself Secrets That Pain-Proofed Over 100 Men and Women Like You!

Is the hook separate from the headline? Or did Gene deliver a 2-in-1 hook and headline combo meal?

Combo meal. Because when you look at the mailing piece, the difference is noticeable.

Eugene Schwartz’s “Sneaky Little Arthritis Tricks” ad.

The hook is stopping power. Look at the font. It’s huge. Those four words are meant to be seen (assuming the target audience’s eyesight isn’t “as sharp as it used to be”) from at least 15 feet away.

What do I mean by “stopping power”?

“SNEAKY LITTLE ARTHRITIS TRICKS” should send anyone who’s fed up with arthritis straight to the chiropractor from the whiplash this hook causes.

The text underneath that red line is the headline (or subhead, but neither here nor there right now).

“With Natural Foods and Do-It-Yourself Secrets That Pain-Proofed Over 100 Men and Women Like You!” — this line gives the hook life and meaning.

This line tells you these “sneaky little arthritis tricks” have already worked for men and women just “like you!” It says you can do it all by yourself (no doctor required) with natural foods (things easy to find). This is the grease. It gets the reader wanting to know more about those first 4 words, “SNEAKY LITTLE ARTHRITIS TRICKS.”

That’s the difference between a hook and a headline.

The hook could be in the headline. It can even be the headline.

But one makes you stop. The other lets you slide on through.

Until next time,

Kris “Stop, Then Slide” Russo

Published inCopywriting

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