Book Summary: The Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins

Scientific Advertising is one the classic books by Claud Hopkins. It’s a very popular and I loved it. Hence, I wanted to summarize the book for the folks who’re looking for it.

Just Salesmanship

  • Advertising is salesmanship.
  • The only purpose of advertising is to make sales. It is profitable pr unprofitable according to its actual sales.
  • Advertising is multiplied salesmanship. It may appeal to thousands while the salesman talks to one.
  • A salesman’s mistake may cost little. An advertiser’s mistake may cost a thousand times that much. Be more cautious, more extracting.
  • Mediocre advertising affects all your trade.
  • One must be able to express himself briefly, clearly, and convincingly, just as a salesman must.
  • Many of the best men in advertising are graduate salesman. They may know a little grammar, nothing of rhetoric, but they know to use words that convince.
  • Avoid countless mistakes by answering many advertising questions. Ask yourself, “would it help a salesman sell goods?” “Would it help me sell them if I met a buyer in person?”
  • 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 for information. Give them enough to action.
  • Measure your ads by salesmen’s standards, not by amusement standards. Ads are not written to entertain.
  • Don’t think people in the mass. That gives you a blurred view. Think of a typical individual, man or women, who is likely to want what you sell. Don’t try to show off. Do just what you think a good salesman should do with a half-sold person before him.
  • Some advertising men go out in person, and sell to people before they plan to write an ad. One of the most able of them has spent weeks on on article, selling from house to house. They learn what possible buyers want and the factors, which don’t appeal. It’s quite customary to interview hundreds of possible customers.
  • The advertising man studies the consumer. He tried to place himself in the position of the buyer. His success largely depends on that to the exclusion of everything else.

2 – Offer Service

  • Remember the people you address are selfish, as we all are. They care nothing about your interests or your profit. They seek service for themselves. Ignoring this fact is a COMMON mistake.
  • The ads are based entirely on service. They offer “wanted information”. They site advantages to users. Perhaps they offer a sample or buy the first package.
  • Sending products on approval: this approach lead the consumer to try new products that they previously would not have considered. “Smoke ten, then keep them or return them as you wish
  • People can be coaxed but not driven. Whatever they do they do to please themselves.

3 – Mail order advertising

  • THE severest test of an advertising man is in selling goods by mail. Cost and results are immediately apparent.
  • There one learns that advertising must be done on a scientific basis to have any fair chance of success. And he learns how every wasted dollar adds to the cost of results
  • Mail order advertisers know that readers forget. They are reading a magazine of interest. They may be absorbed in a story. A large percentage of people who read an ad and decided to act will forget that decision in five minutes.
  • In Mail order advertising the pictures are always to the point.
  • Mail order advertising is to eliminate some of our waste.
  • Mail orders are tried and tested with each word, feature, pictures at its best

4 – Headlines

  • The difference between advertising and personal salesmanship lies largely in personal contact. The salesman is there to demand attention. He cannot be ignored. They advertisement can be ignored.
  • The purpose of the headline is to pick out people you can interest. You wish to talk to someone in a crowd., so the first thing you is “Hey there, Bill Jones” to get the right person’s attention. You care only for those people. Then create a headline which will hail those people only.
  • Headlines on ads are like headlines on news items. Nobody reads a whole newspaper.
  • The writing of headlines is one of the greatest journalistic arts. They either conceal or reveal an interest.
  • Always remember: People are hurried. The average person worth cultivating has too much to read. They skip 3/4 of thereading matter which they pay to get. They are not going to read your business talk unless you make it worth their while and let the headline show it.
  • In print, they choose their own companion, their own subjects.
  • Spend far more time on headlines than writing. You should often spend hours on single headline. Often scores a headline are discarded before the right one is selected.
  • They will decide by a glance — by your headline or your pictures. Address people you see, and them only.


5 – Psychology

  • The competent advertising man/woman must understand psychology.
  • Curiosity is one of the strong human incentives
  • Cheapness is not a strong appeal. Americans are extravagant. They want bargains but not cheapness. People judge largely by price.
  • Many advertised, “Try it for a week. If you don’t like it we’ll return your money“. Instead advertise, “Pay in a week if you like them”.
  • When a man/woman knows that something belongs to him – something with his/her name on – he will make an effort to get it, even though the thing is trifle (personalize, ego)
  • Invite comparisons: “Look out for substitutes. Be sure to get this brand” — no success. Then he said, “Try our rivals too” — that helped him in increase sales

6 – Being Specific

  • Superlatives are usually damaging. They suggest looseness of expression, a tendency to exaggerate a careless truth.
  • A man/woman inclined to superlatives must expect that his every statement will be taken with some caution.
  • Example: Our prices have been reduced — > Our prices have been reduced 25%.
  • A man was selling cheap — he said “our net profit is 3%” , and his rivals copied, and sold further cheap. One well-advised advertiser came out with this statement, “Our profit is 9%.” Then, he cited the actual costs on the hidden costs of a $15– care, they amounted to $735. That made a great success.
  • Don’t say for a shaving soap ” it creates abundant lather” instead say “Multiplies itself in lather 250 times” “Softens beard in a minute. “Maintains its creamy fullness for ten minutes on the face.” “The final result of testing and comparing 130 forumlas.”‘
  • Don’t say it’s a “use the world over” — instead “used by people of 52 nations”

7 – Tell your full story

  • WHATEVER claim you use to gain attention, the advertisement should tell a story reasonably COMPLETE.
  • Serial of ad claims don’t work.
  • When you once get a persons attention, then is the time to accomplish all ever hope with him. Cover every phase of your subject.
  • One must consider that the average reader is only once a reader, probably. And what you fail to tell him in that ad is something he may never know.
  • Some advertisers go so far to never change their ads.
  • In every ad consider only new customers.
  • The most common expression you hear about advertising is that people will not read much. Yet a vast amount of the best-paying advertising shows that people do read much. Then they write a book ,perhaps — for added information.

8 – Art in advertising

  • Pictures in advertising are very expensive. From 1/3 to 12 of advertising campaign is often staked on the power of pictures.
  • Use pictures only to attract who may profit you. Use them only when they form a better selling argument than the same amount of space set in type.
  • People do not patronise a clown. One may again attention by wearing a fool’s cap But he would ruin his selling prospects.
  • Your main appeal lies in your headline. Over-shadow that and you kill it. Don’t gain general and useless attention, sacrifice the attention you want.
  • Do only that which wins the people are after in the cheapest possible way.

9 – Things too costly

  • Changing people’s habits is very expensive
  • No advertiser could afford to educate people on vitamins or germicides. Such things are done by authorities, through countless columns of unpaid for space.
  • Don’t focus preventions (fear), focus on cure such as (gain). A toothpaste may tend to prevent decay. It may also beautify teeth. Tests will probably show that the latter appeal in many times as strong as the former.

10 – Information

  • An ad-writer, to have a chance at success, must gain full information on his subject. A painstaking advertising man will often read for weeks on some problem which comes up.
  • Genius is art of taking pains (detailed research).
  • We must learn what a user spends a year, else we shall not know if users are worth the cost of getting.
  • We must learn the percentage of reader whom our product appeal.
  • An advertiser, in all good faith, makes an impressive assertion. If it’s true, it will form a big factor in advertising. If untrue, it may prove a boomerang. Impressive claims are made far more impressive by making them EXACT.
  • The ad seems so simple and it must be simple to appeal to simple people. BUT behind that ad may like reams of data volumes of information and months of research. So this is no lazy man’s field.

11 – Strategy

  • We must have skill and knowledge. We must have training and experiences, also right equipment. We must have proper ammunition, and enough. We dare not underestimate opponents. Our INTELLIGENCE DEPARTMENT is a vital factor.
  • Give it a name. The advertiser who gives them (products) meaning never needs to share his advantage.
  • The greatest profits are made on great volume at small profit.
  • A high price is unimportant. A high profit is essential.
  • A high price product is considered above ordinary.
  • Competition must be considered. What are the forces against you? What they have in price or quality or claims to weight in against your appeal?
  • We can not go after thousands of men until we learn how to win one.
  • There’s nearly always something impressive which others have not told. We must discover it. We must have seeming advantage. People don’t quite habits without reason.
  • Advertising without this preparation is like a waterfall going to waste. The power might be there, but it is not made effective.
  • Advertising often looks very simple. Thousands of men claim ability to do it. And there is still a wide impression that many men can. As a results, must advertising goes by favor. But the men who know realize that the problems are many and as important as the problems in building a skyscraper. And many of them lie in foundations.

12 – Use of samples (product-led growth)

  • THE product itself should be it own best salesman. Not the product along, but the product plus a mental impression, and atmosphere which you place around it. However, expensive, they usually from the cheapest selling method.
  • The enable one to use word “Free” in ads. That often multiplies readers. Most people want to learn about any offered gift. Test often show that samples pay for themselves — perhaps several times over — in multiplying the readers of your ads without additional cost of space.
  • PLG: bear in mind that you are the seller. Your are the one courting interest. Then don’t make it difficult to exhibit that interest.
  • Hand raise: An inquiry means that a prospect has read your story and is interested. He or she would like to try your product and learn more about it. Do what you would do if that prospect stood before you.
  • Focus on demonstrations in stories, there is always a way to get the same results at a fraction of the cost.
  • Give samples to interested people only. Give them only to people who exhibit interest by some effort. Give them only to people whom you have told your story. First create an atmosphere of respect, a desire, an expectations. When people are in that mood, your sample will usually confirm that qualities you claim.

13 – Getting distribution

  • Don’t start advertising without distribution. Don’t get distribution by methods too expensive.

14 – Test Campaigns

  • 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.
  • Now we let thousands decide what the millions will do. We make a small venture, and watch cost and result. When we learn what a thousand customers costs, we know almost exactly. What a million will cost. When we learn what they buy, we know what a million will buy.
  • A test like this may cost $3000 to $5000. It’s not all lost, even when the product proves unpopular.
  • Sometimes we find that the cost of the advertising comes back before the bills are due.
  • The test campaign have other purposes. They answer countless questions, which are in business.
  • Again we come back to a scientific advertising. Suppose a chemist would say in an arbitary way that this compound was a best, or that better. You would little respect his opinion. He makes tests — sometimes hundreds of tests — to actually know which is best. He will never state a supposition before he has proved it. How long before advertisers in general will apply the exactness of advertising.

15 – Leaning on dealers

  • We cannot depend much in most lines on the active help of jobbers or o of dealers

16 – Individuality

  • A PERSON who desires to make an impression must stand out in some way. By doing admirable things in different way gives some great advantage.
  • Whenever possible we introduce a personality into our ads. By making a man famous we make his product famous. When we claim an improvement, naming the man who made it add effect. (adding CEOs to the launch)
  • To create the right individuality is a supreme accomplishment. Then an advertiser’s growing reputation on that line brings him ever-increasing prestige.
  • There is refreshing uniqueness which enhances, which we welcome and remember. Fortunate is the salesman who has it.

17 – Negative Advertising

  • To attack a rival is never a good advertising. Don’t point out others faults. It’s not permitted in the best mediums. It’s never a good policy. It looks unfair, not sporty. Always appear a good fellow.
  • In advertising a dentrifice, show pretty teeth, not bad teeth.
  • Picture what others WISH to be, not what they may be now.

18 – How advertising laws are established

  • It’s based on fixed principles and reasonably exact.
  • Advertising, once a gamble, has become, our under able direction, one of the safest business ventures.

19 – Letter Writing

  • Every business act on some letters, and others are filled for reference. Analyze those letters. The ones you act on or the ones you keep have a headline, which attracted your interest. At a glance, they offer something that you want, something you wish to know. — Swipefiles
  • Letter writing has to much to do with advertising. Letters to inquirers. Follow-up letters. Wherever possible they should be tested.
  • Do something if possible to get immediate action. Offer some inducement for it. OR trell what delay MAY cost. Note how many successful selling letter place a limit on an offer. It experies on a certain date.
  • Strike while the iron is hot. Get a decision then. Have it followed by prompt action when you can.

20 – A name that helps

  • There is a GREAT advantage in a name that tells a story. The name is usually prominently displayed. To justify the space it occupies. It should aid advertising.
  • Tendency of modern advertising is to eliminate the waste of displaying names. Eg. Syrup of figs (already tells what it does).
  • Question of a name is of serious importance in laying the foundations of a new undertaking. Some names have come the chief factor of success.

Hope you enjoyed these lessons. If you like this summary, share it with someone who’d benefit from it.

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