How to Write Powerful Copy For Lead Generation

When we write copy for lead generation, we start by building an exit sign. 
Somehow, we need to steer an indifferent prospect barreling down the freeway of his own thoughts onto an off ramp. We need to break his train of thought and get him to pay attention to us. We need to convince him to make room in his mind for our message, at least for a moment. There’s only a sliver of time. Perhaps nothing more than a passing glance. We need to capture this flicker of attention with a message so intriguing that the prospect is willing to follow our diversion. He likes what our exit sign has to say. He pulls off the freeway of his own thoughts and for a moment, he pays attention to us. We start this process with a headline. But only a few types of headlines are proven to work. For more than ninety years, after exhaustive and expensive testing, marketers who measure results have thrown away most types of headlines. We have discovered that when it comes to lead generation, only a handful of headline approaches work. 

Legendary copywriter John Caples explains: 

“Advertisers who work with keyed copy (measured direct response) find the 
majority of their most successful headlines can be divided into three classes.” 

The three are…
  1. Self-interest
  2. News
  3. Curiosity

And according to Caples… 

“The best headlines are those that appeal to the reader’s self-interest, that is, headlines based on reader benefits. They offer readers something they want – and can get from you.”

Writing a self-interest headline often means shifting at least some of the focus from your product to your prospect. It means knowing your prospect’s complex stew of wants, needs, and desires so well that you can acknowledge them with a message that is impossible to ignore. 

This is how we start to create lead gen copy that pulls its weight, content to start working with that lets us measure, optimize, and refine.

About Paul Talbot

Paul wrote his first ad in 1979, and is one of a select group of copywriters who has

worked in sales and sales management. He has been a National Director of Sales

at AOL and a Senior Vice President at CBS.

Paul thinks strategically and listens to his clients carefully. He is motivated by

getting his clients results. Paul lives in Coronado, California with his wife Ellen.

Paul’s email is

Read his blog at

1 thought on “How to Write Powerful Copy For Lead Generation”

  1. I –we -are continuously thinking of this -Whats in it for ME -is what the prospect is asking —

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