The one thing that will make your customers pay attention

The key to getting your reader to pay attention is simple – give her something to learn!

Claude C. Hopkins was one of the early greats of advertising and maybe the greatest innovator the industry has ever seen. He invented the money-back guarantee, free trials and the whole concept of market testing; but perhaps his most brilliant stroke was realizing that advertising could succeed by educating the customer.

Hopkins used this wisdom to grow Van Camps’ pork and bean business. Hopkins did research and found that 94% of housewives were baking their own beans at home and only 6% were buying canned beans.

So Hopkins ran an advertising campaign explaining how it took 16 hours to bake beans at home, and that you could never make home-baked beans digestible. He talked about crusty beans on top and mushy beans on the bottom. Then he highlighted the process Van Camp’s used to select their beans; the soft water that they used; and how they made the skins less tough by extracting the lime. He emphasized the steam ovens where the beans were baked at 245 degrees in sealed containers so no flavor was lost. Then finally he offered a free sample so customers could compare.

The campaign was a huge success for Van Camps. Rosser Reeves and today’s marketing genius Jay Abraham call this strategy “the pre-emptive strike.” You see, any bean manufacturer could have run the campaign, because they all used the same process. They all could have told the same story-but they didn’t. They knew their beans, but they didn’t know beans about selling.

Here’s another famous Claude Hopkins story; this one you may have heard.

Schlitz Beer was ranked 5th in market share-until they hired Hopkins. At the time, every beer manufacturer was advocating that their brand was “pure.” But consumers thought “Who cares?” until Hopkins told them what pure really meant.

Hopkins set out to understand the whole process of beer making. He was taken on a factory tour and shown plate-glass rooms filled with filtered air so the beer could be cooled without impurities; he was shown huge and very expensive filters filled with white-wood pulp; he learned that every pump and pipe were cleaned twice a day, and that every bottle was sterilized not once, not twice, but four times before being filled.

The Schlitz factory was right on the shores of Lake Michigan, unpolluted at the time, but no, Schlitz tapped 4,000 foot-deep artesian wells for even cleaner water.

At the end of his tour, Hopkins asked why the company didn’t tell their customers all this. They replied, “Because all beer manufacturers do it this way.”

Hopkins took Schlitz from #5 to #1 in a few short months.

What Hopkins did in these two examples and many others was educate people. It still holds true today: people love to learn; you cannot over-educate them.

Hopkins divulged his secrets in a book called “Scientific Advertising” in 1923. In the next advertising generation, the great David Ogilvy said, “Nobody should be allowed to have anything to do with advertising until he has read ‘Scientific Advertising’ seven times.” And Jay Abraham, known as America’s #1 Marketing Wizard, says this: “Claude Hopkins is the master of them all. His influence has easily added over $6 million to my personal income… and still counting.”

What are your customers learning from your advertising and marketing? What could they be learning?