David Olgivy's Olgivy on Advertising is a must read advertising classic that details his experiences running an ad agency. The book is full of useful information that works as well today as it did decades ago. Some pearls of wisdom:
An effective strategy in business advertising is to show the reader how he can calculate the money your product would save him.
The most successful companies were those that best differentiated their product or service.
John Caples' Tested Advertising Methods reveals the truths he learned about advertising through prolific testing. Caples recognized how important the headline is in writing advertisements:
The best headlines are those that appeal to the reader's self-interest, that is, headlines based on reader benefits. They offer readers something they want--and can get from you.
Caples discovered that the headline rates 50% to 75% in terms of importance in making the sale. If you don't have a powerful, benefit inducing headline, your message is sunk. Caples, and other master copywriters, found that they should spend as much time writing the headline as the rest of the copy. It is that important. When you send emails, do you have a benefit inducing headline or at least a first sentence that serves as a headline? Does the reader sense without a doubt that he or she will know
what's in it for me? if they read the rest of the email?
Claude Hopkins was the first of the great advertising geniuses and copywriter extraordinaire. Said David Olgivy of Hopkins' Scientific Advertising,
Nobody should be allowed to have anything to do with advertising until he has read this book seven times. It has changed my life.
Hopkins recognized early what was wrong with most advertisments:
Ads are planned and written with some utterly wrong conception. They are written to please the seller. The interests of the buyer are forgotten. One can never sell goods profitably, in person or in print, when that attitude exists.
Hopkins preached the idea that advertising should be
salesmanship in print.
The bottom line is that we can all get caught up in the next great internet marketing strategy like search engine optimization or email marketing, but to be effective we must also adhere to the priniciples that have been proven over decades that work. So what if you get thousands of visitors to your site by using the hottest keywords, then fail to convert these prospects to sales? You are losing money now and you are losing money in the future, because that prospect will probably never be back. Hopkins' observation that copywriting should be salesmanship in print stands way above anything else we can learn.
So no matter how you spend your advertising dollars whether it is on brochures, sales letters, direct mail, email, search engine optimization, pay per click, or catalogues, use the knowledge of these past masters to keep the sales rolling in.