Recognizing the Problem

If you’ve never noticed these before, after reading this post, you will start to cringe every time you watch TV, listen to the radio, or flip through a magazine. Or worse, you’ll be reminded of the advertising your business is currently running. The solution is creating a more ownable message, but first – know the warning signs.

We’ve all seen headlines like these before.

Lines that line the already-overflowing advertising dumpsters. Lines that reek of resignation and sameness. Lines that you think are helping, but are actually hurting your cause. Lines that put you squarely in the middle in a sea of sameness. 

Headlines like these are the hallmarks of lost brands. If they have ever (dis)graced your marketing materials, it’s time to take a look in the mirror. And it’s time to discover your WHY, so you can start messaging in a more compelling, single-minded way. 

“Save time and money!”

Out of all the bad headlines, this is THE cardinal sin. It’s a half-hearted appeal to both emotion (time) and logic (money) that cancels itself out for a net zero. It’s been hurting brands’ ROI on marketing for decades now, yet some still think this is how they break through. It’s hollow, lazy and even deceptive. Textbook advertising goop.


The ABCDEFG Headline

This type of line tries to say everything and therefore says nothing. It lists every single product feature and RTB:

“0% APR financing on the amazing 2020 model with a 4-star safety rating, 25 mpg, available in twelve colors, from the most awarded brand in mid-size SUVs.”

Image from Media Post, Toyota

To put it plainly, this is not the way you emotionally motivate someone to buy. Focus. 

The Everybody Ethos 

These headlines make a laser-focused appeal to… everyone under the sun? “Fun for the whole family” or “No matter your style, we’ve got the right look for you” “Everybody loves our new product.” Great brands understand who they are and who they aren’t. Likewise, their advertising isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s a few people’s glass of 12-year bourbon.

Don’t cast a wide net; find your honey hole and drop all your lines right there. 


This headline is nothing but chest-puffery from a brand, where they talk about themselves and fail to tell people WHY they should buy in.

Instead of saying “We’ve been selling insurance in the area for 100 years,” tell them why it makes a difference. Tell them how your specific experience gives you a deeper understanding of people’s needs in the area. Tell them how you give X% of profits back to community initiatives. Tell them you’ll meet with them in-person at the drop of a hat if an issue ever arises. Okay, now I’m starting to see why this matters to me. 

So how do you avoid the pitfalls of such ineffective headlines?

By starting with a crystal-clear strategy.

Whynomics delivers simple, insightful and actionable strategy for businesses. Providing a unique platform that informs every aspect of marketing and communications — from headlines and press releases to the causes you support.

Once you’re laser-focused on your mission, you can stop sounding like everyone else and start creating a more ownable message.

If you have an ad like this, we’d love to A) feature it in this blog, and B) help you change that – like, yesterday.

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