Copyright 2006 Peter Woodhead
This is the fourth article in a series about the history of advertising.
The previous article outlined how marketing greats, John E.Kennedy and Claude Hopkins made their impact in the world of advertising.
They both left a legacy for us all, and their work went on to inspire other up-and-coming copywriters. So….
…continuing our “tour”
1912 Ask any top marketer today and they may tell you that the secret to their success is attributable to two things:
1. the ability to write, and recognise, good copy
2. knowing what makes people buy
If you understand these two points, and understand them well, you will make your fortune. No doubt about it!
And it doesnt matter if you sell your product or service online, or offline, the two principles above are still valid.
Think about it. Whats the point of having sexy-looking websites or graphically designed sales letters if they dont convert prospects into customers? Who are you trying to impress? You need sales. You need conversions.
You dont need to be a genius writer to succeed. William Shakespeare was a writer. Charles Dickens was a writer. Stephen King is a writer. But you dont have to be in that league. You need to write as if you are sat next to your prospect and all you need to use are the right words.
Its using the right words that will get you those sales.
Winston Churchill said: “Short words are best, and the old words when short are best of all.”
John Caples wrote: “On average, 5 times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. Therefore, unless your headlines sell your product, you’ve wasted 90% of your money. The best headlines are those which promise the reader a benefit – a whiter wash; more miles per gallon.”
Now here’s a small sample from a book about writing copy:
“Good advertising copy consists of a combination of words that convince the reader that he should do as the advertising directs.
Therefore, to become a successful advertiser, you must study words and learn to combine them in a way that will express thought with force and conviction.
Don’t use too many adjectives, as they are likely to spoil an otherwise good advertisement. The buying public will be more easily convinced by the use of decisive words of praise in description of wares, than by what are known as “gushing” adjectives, which, however appropriate, will mean but little if they are too freely used.
Have a care for the proper use of words and you will find that far fewer words are required to express your exact meaning.
Do not deviate from “plain everyday speech” – simple, clean cut, incisive language.
Express yourself as simply as possible, for simplicity makes for efficiency at all times.
Unusual words, words of many syllables, long, involved sentences, complex phraseology, should be avoided.
Advertising should always be written for the one purpose of attracting and convincing the largest possible number of its readers and never for the purpose of exhibiting either your education or your cleverness.”
And those words were written approximately 100 years ago. Is the same not true today? I think so. And so too do all the top marketers of today.
Ted Nicholas, “The Guru of Direct Mail Marketing,” had this to say: “Certain words produce amazing results, as if by magic. “All you desire in life , including everlasting wealth, can be yours depending on the words with which you express yourself. It doesn’t matter whether the words are written or spoken, either. As with all the great truths, once known, they seem so simple.”
In conclusion, you MUST learn how to write sizzling copy of your own. It’s a very learnable skill.
You can get a good grounding by studying the works of the great marketers ofthe past – guys like John E. Kennedy, Claude Hopkins and others.
In the next article I will cover the very necessary topic of psychology. Human psychology – understand why people buy and it will be a lot easier to sell to them.