Timeless Marketing Advice from the Father of Advertising’s Favorite Book

Timeless Marketing Advice from the Father of Advertising’s Favorite Book

Reader Comments (32)

  1. I’m reading the book right now. The thing that resonates with me the most is the focus, time and again, on experimenting with customer behaviour and analysing what the customer wants. Then adding this to your offer – rather than guess work.

    It made sense then. It makes sense now. Yet, why do so few implement it?

    • Hopkins would be right at home with today’s customer research, analytics and conversion rate optimization.

      He had all the hallmarks of a great marketer, which is probably why a book written in 1923 still sells so well today. 🙂

  2. I haven’t read the book, but I’ll add it to my library.

    What struck me most in this article is, “The competent advertising man must understand psychology. The more he knows about it the better.”

    I’ve read job advertisements for content writers and freelance content writers where one of the qualifications was: MUST know, understand and have an interest in human and business psychology.

    I knew my psychology courses and love of psych would come in handy. 😉

  3. Excellent. Brian, Sonia, I love the articles on hard core copywriting.

    I have a pdf of Scientific Advertising, although it’s fighting Advertising Secrets of the Written Word and Tested Advertising Methods for my time.

  4. Well, I haven’t read the book, Gregory. But your post is a big incentive to read it. You did a great job bringing Hopkins’ timeless wisdom directly into our daily digital lives now. Whew, awesome! Thanks for a timely blast from the past that landed straight into my working reality today. I appreciate it.

  5. The first time I read that book – I was blown away by how much was relevant it was, how well he explained the concepts, and how easily it all can be applied to “modern advertising and marketing.”

    Imagine what Hopkins could have done with the internet!

    The one thing I really remember hitting home in Scientific Advertising (or maybe it was My Life in Advertising) was when Hopkins talked about how it’s a waste of time to try and sell the benefits of oatmeal to people who simply don’t like to eat oatmeal.

    At the time I was trying to do the same thing with a product – and I just felt like – “Wow, I’m an idiot.”

  6. I’m actually reading this book right now, it came bundled with My Life in Advertising. It’s a great book.

  7. Although I can’t say that I’ve read the book, Gregory, one thing I can say is that I’ll be adding it to my Amazon wishlist (right behind Breakthrough Advertising and The Adweek Copywriting Handbook).

    What resonated most for me was the block quote that read, ‘Prevention is not a popular subject, however much it should be. People will do much to cure a trouble, but people in general will do little to prevent it.’

    This is so true when trying to educate people on living a healthier lifestyle that it’s almost physically painful to read.

    Just because the choices you make now don’t manifest themselves immediately (like text messages, fast food, or social media), doesn’t mean those choices won’t come to haunt you years down the line.

    Great post, man. Keep up the high quality material — I look forward to reading more.

  8. An excellent, well-in-depth analysis when it comes to advertising to the human level.

    Great work Gregory!

    What caught my attention was the area of what the text-copy of each sale’s page or product description is the most effective.

    I myself do catch the persuasive, suave, salesman type of writing for each product page.

    It may become pretty obvious and it’s sad to see how it dominates so many sales pages on the Internet.

    Be you, be real, and the product should sell for you (the best advise).

    – Sam

  9. I really like the subtle point : Clarity Trumps Creativity. Beautifully put.

    I think getting clear is critical. As I’ve learnt from copyblogger (awesome site have you heard of it?) it’s critical be be crystal clear as a writer. I strive for simplicity in my blog which is all about productivity : http://www.productiveinsights.com

    Demian Farnworth has written some awesome posts on writing. Short, readable sentences. No overwhelming blocks of text.

    When I write a post I make sure the copy is crystal clear. Once I’ve completed this I try and add the creative sauce. I do this by:

    1) I re-read the post imagining myself as the reader.
    2)With this new perspective, I look for ways in which I can make the copy more entertaining.
    3) I look to see if I can insert power words as Jon Morrow teaches.
    4) I look to see if I can add a few hooks – this usually involves the element of surprise at the start of paragraphs (particularly the longer ones)
    5) I look to see if I can break up the text further. No paragraph should be more than 3-5 sentences
    6) I revisit all the subheadings to make sure they follow the headline hacks report from Jon Morrow
    7) I re-read the post and ask myself – is this entertaining? Is this informative? Is this actionable?
    8) I then hit publish. (I know I should let it ‘simmer’ for a day but I’m usually too impatient to wait)

  10. Brian, I haven’t read the book.

    Here’s what most resonated with me: ‘What big problem in the market am I trying to solve?’

    “Resonate” doesn’t describe it. It jolted me as if I were stepping into an elevator shaft with no elevator.

  11. Great post Gregory with links to some really awesome resources. I love your hook with the David Ogilvy quote to grab the readers full and undivided attention.

    I have not read the book (but will after reading this post). The part about resonated most with me was the following statement you made:

    “times change, the tools change, but basic human emotions do not. Despite cultural shifts and the evolution of trends and tastes, human nature is perpetual.”

    Perpetual change is both exciting and a course at the same time. It is easy to get distracted with new networks, applications and technology which change so quickly that it is hard to get an ROI from the investment to learn them.

    Learning about fundamental principles is the “hard” part because it must be studied and is the opposite of the immediate gratification that we have become addicted to.

    Those that do master these principles will set themselves apart in an ever changing, increasingly connected and mobile marketing environment.

  12. I’ve read it a few times, not the 7 times that Olgivy reccomends. I also like Colliers Letter Book for a practical take on things.

  13. Thanks, Greg, for the post. I read the an ebook version of the book as a gift for subscribing to a blog. And after reading, I decided to share a few insights with fellow copywriters.

    You can see the blog post here: copywriters4businesses.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/advertising-wisdom-from-claude-hopkins-27-lessons-for-grabs/.

    Indeed, it’s a great read. I even wrote the same lessons for a newspaper and received two emails from readers. They loved it.

    Anyone who wants a free copy of it, can request one from my blog: copywriters4businesses.wordpress.com.

  14. Hi Greg,

    Been wanting to read this one…will grab it soon.

    So what stood out to me in your article was this:
    “Literary qualifications have no more to do with it than oratory has with salesmanship. One must be able to express himself briefly, clearly, and convincingly, just as a salesman must.”

    I already knew that literary qualifications didn’t guarantee successful ad writing, but the comparison to oratory skills and salesmanship brought the point home to me.

  15. Awesome post, Gregory! “Scientific Advertising” is one of two “must reads” for anyone who writes copy…or is in any part of the direct marketing world, online or offline.

    The other was mentioned in this thread: “Breakthrough Advertising” by Gene Schwartz.

    Gene was instrumental in my career and when I saw a live bid for the “lost classic” at $925, I just re-published it myself (with the permission of Gene’s widow Barbara) and it’s been a privilege sharing it with a new generation of marketers.

    And speaking about these books being about “human behavior” and not just “copywriting”: Not one word has been changed from the original 1966 version of “Breakthrough Advertising” to the current Boardroom version…which tells me that human behavior has not changed since then…nor has it changed since 1923 when “Scientific Advertising” was first published…and come to think of it, it hasn’t changed since the Palaeozoic Era either…

  16. Gregory:

    As I have not read the book, this was super educational for me. What most resonated with me was, “people can be coaxed, not driven”. That’s a truth I experience daily in my counseling practice (and in my family).

    I can see that clients will be drawn to me as I write about the problems they are trying to solve. And I see that I must write with clarity. My my second take away is “clarity trumps creativity”. If I resist the lure to be cleverly creative, I can actually write with greater freedom.

    Thanks for making this clear for me and for writing about my challenge.

  17. Interesting quote but wrong book. According to Dryton Bird, who worked for Ogilvy, the book in question is The Robert Collier Letter Book.

  18. To: Gregory: Saw your comment about making “Breakthrough Advertising” more available to more people at a reasonable price…at least I’m not selling it for $925! 🙂

    We do sell it for $95…but I need to speak with Sonia and Brian about making a special deal available to the Copyblogger family…everyone needs to have this classic…I need to work on that.

    Thanks again for your awesome article. I feel like I still have Hopkins and Schwartz on “retainer” sine I refer to their books all the time…although I don’t have to send a check anywhere every month! 🙂

  19. This is an excellent book, as is My Life in Advertising (also from Claude Hopkins) and the Robert Collier Letter Book. Glad to see word of it is spreading among bloggers.

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