“Scientific Advertising” by Claude C. Hopkins
Claude Hopkins took advertising, which was considered akin to playing the stock market, and transformed it into practical, actionable steps that you could track and test, just like a research experiment.
And Scientific Advertising was the fruit of his labors.
Claude Hopkins, born in 1866, really was a pioneer in his field. He adamantly believed that advertising existed only to sell something and should be measured only by its results.
This is actually contrary to the methods that many advertising agencies use today, and that is something I will get into a little bit later in this post…
But, to understand Claude's approach, you need to know a little about his background.
In his early years he moved around working for various advertisers, but at the age of 41, he landed a job with Lord & Thomas advertising with a salary of $185,000 a year. (In 1907, that was an astronomical amount of money.)
He firmly believed in the concept of “reason-why” copy, and believed that a good product was its own best salesperson.
However, where he truly was unique, was in his copious testing of his ads.
Hopkins used key coded coupons to test headlines, offers, and propositions against one another. He would use the results from those 3 segments to continually improve his results, increasing response and improving cost-effectiveness for his clients.
Needless to say, people loved working with him.
He wrote Scientific Advertising after he retired, and it was the first publication talking about advertising as a science and not just a whimsical art form.
The Most Important Belief for Your Business
Claude Hopkins was known for a few very strong beliefs about advertising, but one very important one was the concept of “ditching the pitch.”
He believed that, “one must know what buyers are thinking about and what they are coming for and what they want. One must know the trends to be a leader in a winning trend.”
This really is the foundation for any successful business.
You really want to know what your clients are looking for when they come to you. Just by having those conversations, you put yourself in a position to appeal to even more potential customers.
And, like we discussed before, leveraging trends can be a huge factor in appealing to people.
But Claude brings some specifics to this equation that others had never mentioned at the time…
He truly believed that there is no room for humor within advertisements. Not to say that they should be devoid of life… but ads are not the place for frivolity.
If you want to be creative in your writing, go write a book.
He also firmly believed that individuality in your product or service is mandatory – and this is something that is even more important today. Especially as you build and elevate your “expert business.”
Many of my articles this month have dealt with finding ways you can stand out, and understanding that those aspects of your business will dramatically increase your success.
However, Hopkins' Favorite Hobby of All is…
In terms of marketing, this is simply a means of comparing two or more unique strategies, side by side, in a controlled experiment.
I mentioned earlier that he invented the idea of using key coded coupons for testing, which is really where “science” comes into the equation.
Doing this keeps losses from unsuccessful ads at a safe level while gains from profitable ads are multiplied.
Or, as Hopkins wrote, the advertiser is “playing on the safe side of a hundred to one shot”.
Do you ever do any testing when you launch new products or services in your business?
How about when you start a new marketing campaign?
Trying out different headlines, angles, approaches, and even markets can be of huge benefit to you. And in the internet age, it's much easier to do.
In fact, when you work with copywriters, make sure to ask them for a few different headlines when they send you sales copy.
Actually, be sure to ask any potential copywriter if they've read this and Schwartz's book… it'll determine the quality of work that you get.
As legendary marketer David Oglivy said, “Nobody should be allowed to have anything to do with advertising until he has read this book seven times. It changed the course of my life.”
Anyway, whether it be landing pages, e-mail copy, newsletters, you name it… by having a few different headlines to test, you give yourself a MUCH higher chance of success.
And the copywriter will love not having to throw away all of the different ideas that they've come up with.
What's In It For Me?
Other than being incredibly knowledgeable when you inevitably deal with marketers and copywriters, reading Scientific Advertising can have a profound effect on your business.
When you move away from the “fluff” that many companies seem to use in their ads, you really can start measuring what works and what doesn't.
And you'll absolutely reach more customers.
You see, like I mentioned before, big ad agencies nowadays focus on branding more than they do on marketing.
When you see these huge campaigns with funny commercials and witty one-liners, they are amusing and grab your attention, but they actually do nothing to directly sell a product.
They mostly get these big brands' names in your head as “witty” or “sexy” or “savvy”.
I actually watched a friend of mine laugh hysterically at a commercial on youtube and then shut it off before the company's name was displayed. I asked him afterward whose ad that was, and he had no idea.
My point is, as an expert business owner, your #1 focus should be on making sales. And that means getting your USP (remember that conversation?) out in front of the people to whom it matters.
And if that angle doesn't work, keep testing – try and try again until you find the right fit.
You can be a breakout success like these gentlemen we've been discussing in my last few blog posts; you just need to start taking the right steps. And I will help you on that journey.
We've come to the end of our “Greatest Books You've Never Read” series, but stay tuned next month for more business and marketing tips and strategies, designed to help you build a successful expert business, and enjoy the lifestyle and income you've dreamed of.