by John Wood

When you’re writing a sales letter you should only reveal the product in the context of what it can do for your prospect.

It holds doubly true for the headline.

Recently a friend of mine who wants to break into copywriting sent me a headline and lead she’d written. In her headline, she made a mistake that many new to copywriting make. She mentioned the product by name.

The general rule of thumb is that you should avoid mentioning the product by name in your headline. As we both know, people don’t buy products, they buy what the product will do for them.

So, instead of a headline like this…

Our “In-Home Study Program” Will Teach You How to Speak Spanish in 30 Days


Speak Spanish in Thirty Days or Less

Also don’t identify what your product is in your headline. By not identifying the actual product, you make your reader curious and more likely to want to find out more.

For example, instead of…

New Pill Will Make You Look Ten Years Younger


How to Look Ten Years Younger Without Exercising or Changing Your Diet

Admittedly, this is a pretty basic example. If you tell people in your headline that what you’re selling is a new pill, they’ll think to themselves “A new pill? I’ve tried that before. It didn’t work. I’m not interested.”

If you just make them a promise, you force them into your copy to find out what it is they need to achieve the results you mention in the headline.

Of course there are exceptions.

For instance, if your promo is going to your client’s warm market where there’s a relationship already established, sometimes you can mention the product and still make it work. But even then, I’d try to avoid it if you can. Also if the main benefit you’re offering your readers is a massive discount, putting that in the headline may be the way to go.

But more often than not, you should avoid mentioning the product and/or name in your headline.

This article appears courtesy of American Writers & Artists Inc.’s (AWAI) The Golden Thread, a free newsletter that delivers original, no-nonsense advice on the best wealth careers, lifestyle careers and work-at-home careers available. For a complimentary subscription, visit