Hopkins’ Essentials of Advertising (My Life in Advertising: Chapter 17)

After reviewing Hopkins’ accomplishments, we get to the most important chapter of the book, Chapter Seventeen, Scientific Advertising.

Hopkins compares advertisements with salespeople. Each must prove their worth. Track results to know what is effective and what is not. Some techniques won’t work in various industries.

Image "Money bw" by Monochrome, Flickr, CC-By-2.0
Image “Money bw” by Monochrome, Flickr, CC-By-2.0

But some truths are universal. Hopkins lays them out in this essential chapter.

This is the 14th installment in a series about the current PRL book selection, My Life in Advertising.

First, Hopkins warns us that “brilliant writing has no place in advertising… Any apparent effort to sell creates corresponding resistance.” Tweet This Use short words and phrases.

Hopkins advises to only sell on a product’s merits.

Your advertisements must offer service “from start to finish.” Don’t spend any money on space designed for anything but service.

Forget yourself and any selfish appeals about your brand. Do not boast.

Aim to get action, such as a coupon that they can cut now and use later.

Don’t use humor, Hopkins argues, because spending money is serious business, for both the seller and the buyer.

Don’t repeat your words. Don’t waste space, especially with a large font.

Interested readers will read, or they’re not interested.

Ads should tell a complete story because they’re likely to be read only once.

Test and refine ads to see which people respond to.

Some things can’t be profitable with advertising, such as commodities which last a long time. Don’t get stuck on those product lines.

Image "Newspapers B&W (3)" by Jon S, Flickr, CC-By-2.0
Image “Newspapers B&W (3)” by Jon S, Flickr, CC-By-2.0

Finally, headlines. Headlines can make or break an ad. A change in a headline can increase the ad’s effectiveness tenfold. Headlines are how people decide to read an article or an advertisement. They must flatter and please, and appeal to people’s self-interest, pride, and individuality.

Because ad is a complete story of a product, the copy may be similar to other products in that market. “The great difference lies in the headline,” Hopkins notes. Tweet This

Because ad is a complete story of a product, the copy may be similar to other products in that market

Beyond your message of service and flattery, one must appeal to individuality and pride. Canvassing door-to-door is the best teacher to understand people and what they want. The ad writers then reproduce in print what they’ve learned in the real world.

Not everyone can write an effective advertisement, Hopkins notes, but practicing his scientifically proven principles is the only way to proceed safely.