Lessons From The Grandfather of Copywriting

For those of you not in the loop, every serious student of advertising eventually finds their way back to Claude C. Hopkins. Almost every great marketer and copywriter says the same thing about Claude. He founded modern advertising and the principles he codified still work today.

Claude took his ideas from carnival pitchmen and applied them to copywriting. Hopkins’ principles were laid down in 1923 in a slender book called ‘Scientific Advertising.’ Yes. Advertising was a science before 1923.

David Ogilvy said of Scientific Advertising, "Nobody should be allowed to have anything to do with advertising until he has read this book seven times.”

In my opinion Scientific Advertising is ‘the manual’ for internet marketing even though its 90th anniversary is coming up. The speed to work through the science is all that has changed. We can do in days what it took Hopkins and Co months to achieve.

Keeping that in mind, I thought I’d share some pithy nuggets of Hopkins.

“The uninformed would be staggered to know the amount of work involved in a single ad. Weeks of work sometimes. The ad seems so simple – and it must be simple to appeal to simple people. But, at the back of that ad may lie reams of data, volumes of information, months of research.”

“People don't buy from clowns.”

“The time has come when advertising in some hands has reached the status of a science. It is based on fixed principles and is reasonably exact. The causes and effects have been analyzed until they are well understood.”

“A person who desires to make an impression must stand out in some way. Being eccentric, being abnormal is not a distinction to covet. By doing admirable things in a different way gives one a great advantage. So with salesmen, in person or in print… There is refreshing uniqueness, which enhances which we welcome and remember. Fortunate is the salesman who has it.”

“Almost any questions can be answered cheaply, quickly and finally by a Test Campaign. That is the way to answer them, not by arguments around a table. Go to the court of last resort: the buyers of your product…”

Scientific Advertising is available as a free download... It is worth getting Scientific Advertising in compilation with Hopkins’ Autobiography My Life in Advertising. The stories in it bring life to his principles much more vividly.

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