Wednesday, December 29, 2010

David Ogilvy founded one of the largest advertising agencies in the world, Ogilvy & Mather International. (I had the privilege of working with him for six years as a creative director.) Everyone associated with David learned a great deal from his vast knowledge of copywriting and human nature. He synthesised much of his advice in his book, Confessions of an Advertising Man. Yet even he praised another great advertising genius, Claude Hopkins, who wrote an enduring classic of his own. Ogilvy once said of Hopkins’ book:
"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."
Here are some excerpts from Claude Hopkins’On Salesmanship In Advertising
Advertising is salesmanship. Its principles are the principles of salesmanship. Successes and failures in both lines are due to like causes. Thus every advertising question should be answered by the salesman's standards.
The only purpose of advertising is to make sales. It is profitable or unprofitable according to its actual sales.
It is not for general effect. It is not to keep your name before the people. It is not primarily to aid your other salesmen.
Advertising is multiplied salesmanship. Therefore every ad should be a super-saleperson.
"There is one simple and right way to answer many advertising questions. Ask yourself, 'Would this help a salesman sell the goods?' 'Would it help me sell them if I met the buyer in person?'

On the lenqth of your ads:
Some say, "Be very brief. People will read only a little." Would you say that to a salesperson? With a prospect standing there, would you confine him to use only a certain number of words? That would be an unthinkable handicap.
So in advertising. The only readers we get are people whom our subject interests. No one reads ads for amusement, long or short. Consider them as prospects standing before you, seeking information. Give them enough to get action.

On the proper attitude:
When you plan and prepare an advertisement, mentally keep before you a typical buyer. Then in everything be guided by what you would do if you met the buyer face-to-face.
The advertising writer studies the consumer. He or she tries to place themselves in the position of that buyer. Success largely depends on doing that to the exclusion of everything else.
On offerinq service:
Remember that the people you address are selfish, as we all are. They care nothing about your interest or your profit. They seek service for themselves. Ignoring this fact is a common mistake and a costly mistake in advertising.

On the lessons of mail order advertisinq:
Mail order advertising tells a complete story if the purpose is to make an immediate sale. You see no limitations there on amount of copy.
The motto is, 'The more you tell, the more you sell.'

It is far harder to get mail orders than to send buyers to the store. It is hard to sell goods which can't be seen. Ads which do that are excellent examples of what advertising should be.

Mail order advertising is traced down to the fraction of a penny. The cost per reply and cost per dollar of sale show up with utter exactness. [This principle applies to this day: all web-based ads should best be tracked for effectiveness.]

The most common way of comparing one ad with another [used to be] by use of a coupon. We offer a sample, a book, a free package or something to induce direct replies. Thus we learn the amount of action which each ad engenders.

But those figures are not final. One ad may bring too many worthless replies; another brings replies that are valuable to our final conclusions are always based on cost per customer or cost per dollar of sale.

On the proper use of headlines:

The purpose of a headline is to pick out people you can interest. You care only for those people.

People will not be bored in print. In print they choose their own companions, their own subjects. There may be products which interest them more than anything else in a magazine. But they will never know it unless the headline or the picture tells them.

The vast difference in headlines is shown by keyed returns. The identical ad run with various headlines differs tremendously in its returns. It is not uncommon for a change in headlines to multiply returns from five to ten times over.

Don't think that those millions will read your ads to find out if your product interests them. They will decide by a glance -- by your headline or your pictures.

On psychology:
Competent advertising people must understand psychology. The more they know about it the better. They must learn that certain effects lead to certain reactions, and use that knowledge to increase results and avoid mistakes.

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