Learn To Increase Sales (While standing in line at the grocery store)

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A sale is a response.

It is a response to a call to action.  It is a response to marketing.

So, if you want to learn to increase sales, you must learn to increase response.

When you stand in line at the grocery store you have access to 100′s of lessons in response.  As you stand, unsuspecting,  in the checkout line you are targeted by the best direct response marketers in the world.

Usually to your left, you will find a dozen or so magazine covers printed with headlines that are proven to create response.  They draw consumers in like magnets and they get consumers to respond.

Where to apply these lessons

The lessons you can learn from these headlines can be applied in literally thousands of marketing and sales activities.

Here are just a few:

  • Email subject lines
  • Seminar topics
  • Speech titles
  • Blog post titles
  • Headings on brochures, flyers, etc
  • Headings on website landing pages

I could go on for hours here but I won’t.

Read on to see a breakdown of some real headlines.


Learn To Increase Sales

The following headlines are from Prevention magazine found on the rack to my left at my local grocery store.  Let’s take a look at why they work.

Headline 1 – 10 Minute Cellulite Cure
Headline 2 – Get Thin By Friday!

Both headlines 1 & 2 use the same formula.

Here is the formula:

Get [desired benefit] in [short amount of time]

The reason this headline increases response is because it appeals to the consumers desire to get great benefit with as little time or energy expended as possible.

Headline 3 – Secrets for a Safer Hospital Stay

Headline 3 uses a time-tested word that increases response.

That word is SECRET.

Here is the formula:

Secrets to [desired result]

The reason it works is because it implies that something will be revealed that you haven’t heard before.

Headline 4 – Great 400 Calorie Meals: Hot Off Cat Cora’s Grill
Headline 7 – Marie Osmond: How She’s Kept Off 40 lbs For 4 Years

Headlines 4 & 7 use the same tactic.  They are “piggybacking” off of a famous person, brand or other world-class example.

Cat Cora (famous chef) and Marie Osmond (who needs no introduction) are being used to increase response.

All of these type of headlines are a variation of the following:

How [world class example] Got [desired result]

The “piggyback” headline works because we have respect and awe for the example used.

Headline 5 – When Feeling Bad Is Good For You (Really!)

Headline 5 uses something my public speaking coach, Fred Miller, calls a “pattern interrupt.”

The pattern interrupt disarms you because it is contrary to what your mind is used to processing.

The formula for this is more abstract and can be summed up like this:

2 + 2 = 5

The pattern interrupt headline works because it can open our mind to a new concept, product, event, etc.

Headline 6 – 16 Habits That Make You Look Older

Headline 6 is only seven words long and is a masterpiece.

Firstly, it is a list headline (16 Habits) which do very well because it gives the consumer the feeling that the content within is digestible in bite sized chunks.

Secondly, it is a threat headline.  Consumers will do more to avoid pain than to gain pleasure.  The headline 16 Habits That Make You Look Older, threatens pain.

Here is the formula:

[Number] [Something common] That [Threaten an undesired result]

Holding up your end of the bargain

Wanna know how to ruin your reputation and your business?

Easy… use headlines like these and then don’t deliver the goods.

Your email, presentation, product, event or whatever you are selling must deliver on the promise in your headline.

I hope this post delivered on its headline.  Whether it did or didn’t I would love to hear your feedback in the comments section.

Next time you are twiddling your thumbs in the grocery line, remember that you can learn to increase sales by glancing to your left and taking a lesson from the masters of response.



  1. Great article Russ! This is the HOW and WHY and so well executed. Thank you!

  2. Wow, Russ!

    It is amazing how the human mind is affected by words in a certain pattern in a headline. And thank you for sharing this great marketing information.
    Joy Ann

    • @Joy Ann — When I started studying copywriting and Laws of Influence, etc — I was absolutely astounded. Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment Joy Ann!

  3. Dwight Amstutz says:

    Enjoyed it Russ!! Thx

  4. You’re my eMarketing American IDOL, Russ!!
    This is a great blog post. One of these days my friend I am going to get up to speed on the Blogging bandwagon and make my coach (you) proud.
    Thanks, for taking the time to share you wizdoms.

  5. Another outstanding Post, Russ!

    I listened to it twice! As always, I’ve picked up several great ideas from you that I’ll be using.

    You walk your talk in your Post headline. I had to listen because I had to find out how standing in line at the grocery store would teach me to increase sales.

    I’d write more, but I’m running to the grocery store to pick up more ideas!


    PS: Thanks for the mention and link!

  6. Great article! Very informative :) I tweeted about it, too. People need to understand how to go about things. Well said. good points. :)

  7. Great post Russ! “Tiny” in time spent learning….but WOW…will this info be “Mighty” in its delivery of increased profits when busniness owners use its timeless principles. Copy writing is, and always will be Essential to business growth, success and profitablility. Thanks for a super post on one of my favorite topics! Enjoyed it!


  8. I followed your advice in titling my most recent blogpost: http://www.moneyplansos.com/5-ways-the-rich-get-richer/

    What’cha think?

    • @Steve — great stuff Steve and glad to see you putting this to work so quickly!

      The only change I would have made would be to use the word “Habits” instead of “Ways” — it is a more precise description of what you cover in the article. And, it makes the advice seem more accessible to me, after all, we can all form habits.

  9. Joan Chamberlain says:

    Russ, Thanks for the great post. I’m going to use your examples as templates for my next articles. Joan

  10. Russ,

    Very interesting way of looking at the impulse items in a store. Now I have a new way of spending my time in line, thinking about what is really being said.


    • @Mark — Thanks Mark. Yes, these headlines are used to create impulse buys but they are also very powerful even in situations when a consumer takes careful consideration of the purchase.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  11. Hi Russ,

    Very informative . These headlines do grab attention. However as you rightly said they are counterproductive once you find that there is not much content behind them.

    Thanks for sharing.

  12. @Ashvini — Thanks! Yes, you can quickly destroy your reputation if you use headlines like these to bait people in and then you don’t deliver on your promise.

  13. Huh… Now you got me a thinking Russ Henneberry. I “was” that guy that talks to you in line the check out isle, no twiddling of the thumbs while standing in line here… Now I’m going to be the person that picks up the magazine, reads it for a while and doesn’t buy it. LOL
    Thnx great stuff!
    Doug Belleville

  14. This really sounds funny, but if it is achievable why not giving it a trial.

  15. Sam Anderson says:

    Nice article Russ.

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