a Special Report
Advertising... A Classic work by an Advertising Genius"
keywords>Advertising>Claude C Hopkins>
This book was written by
Hopkins in 1923. Considered by
many to be
the greatest advertising genius of the 20th century, his
brilliant and innovative ideas changed the face of Advertising
and Copywriting forever.
But what has really changed about advertising philosophy
since then? People still experience essentially the same
emotions today as they did back in the 20's. What we buy and
sell certainly has changed, but how we buy and sell is pretty
much the same as when Mr. Hopkins wrote his book. This is
Chapter 6, from his book -
(Get Instructions for retrieving the whole book at end of
competent advertising man must understand psychology. The more he
knows about it, the better. He must learn that certain effects lead
to certain reactions, and use that knowledge to increase results and
avoid mistakes. Human nature is perpetual. In most respects it is
the same today as in the time of Caesar. So the principles of
psychology are fixed and enduring. You will never need to unlearn
what you learn about them.
We learn, for instance that, curiosity is one of the strongest human
We employ it whenever
we can. Puffed Wheat and Puffed Rice were made successful largely
through curiosity. "Grains puffed to 8 times the normal size."
"Foods shot from guns." "125 million steam explosions caused in
every kernel." These foods were failures before that factor was
We learn that cheapnessis not a strong appeal. Americans are
extravagant. They want bargains but not cheapness. They want to feel
that they can afford to eat and have and wear the best. Treat them
as if they could not and they resent your attitude.
We learn that people judge largely by price. They are not
experts. In the British National Gallery is a painting which is
announced in a catalog to have cost $750,000. Most people at first
pass it by at a glance. Then later they get farther on in the
catalog and learn what the painting cost. They return then and
A department store advertised at one Easter time a $1,000 hat, and
the floor could not hold the women who came to see it. We often
employ this factor in psychology. Perhaps we are advertising a
valuable formula. To merely say that would not be impressive. So we
state - as a fact - that we paid $100,000 for that formula. That
statement when tried has won a wealth of respect.
Many articles are sold under guarantee - so commonly sold that
guarantees have ceased to be impressive. But one concern made a
fortune by offering a dealers signed warrant. The dealer to whom one
paid his money agreed in writing to pay it back if asked. Instead of
a far-away stranger, a neighbor gave the warrant. The results have
led many to try that plan, and it has always proved effective.
Many have advertised, "Try it for a week. If you don't like it we'll
return your money. Then someone conceived the idea of sending goods
without any money down, and saying, "Pay in a week if you like
them." That proved many times more impressive.
One great advertising man stated the difference this way: "Two men
came to me, each offering me a horse. Both made equal claims. They
were good horses, kind and gentle. A child could drive them. One man
said, "Try the horse for a week. If my claims are not true, come
back for your money." The other man also said, "Try the horse for a
week." But he added, "Come and pay me then." I naturally bought the
second mans horse."
Now countless things - cigars, typewriters, washing machines, books,
etc. - are sent out in this way on approval. And we find that people
are honest. The losses are very small.
An advertiser offered a set of books to business men. The
advertising was unprofitable, so he consulted another expert. The
ads were impressive. The offer seemed attractive, "But," said the
second man, "let us add one little touch which I have found
effective. Let us offer to put the buyers name in gilt lettering on
each book." That was done, and with scarcely another change in the
ads they sold some hundreds of thousands of books. Through some
peculiar kink in human psychology it was found that names in gilt
gave much added value to the books.
Many send out small gifts - like memorandum books, to customers and
prospects. They get very small results. One man sent out a letter to
the effect that he had a leather-covered book with a mans name on
it. It was waiting on him and would be sent on request. The form of
request was enclosed, and it also asked for certain information.
That information indicated lines on which a man might be sold.
Nearly all men, it was found, filled out that request and supplied
the information. When a man knows that something belongs to them -
something with his name on - he will make an effort to get it, even
though the thing is a trifle.
In the same way it is found that an offer limited to a certain class
of people is far more effective than a general offer. For instance,
an offer limited to veterans of the war. Or to members of a lodge or
sect. Or to executives. Those who are entitled to any seeming
advantage will go a long way not to lose that advantage.
An advertiser suffered much from substitution. He said, "Look out
for substitutes," "Be sure you get this brand," etc., with no
effect. Those were selfish appeals. Then he said, "Try our rivals'
too" - said it in his headlines. He invited comparisons and showed
that he did not feat them. That corrected the situation. Buyers were
careful to get the brand so conspicuously superior that its maker
could court a trial of the rest.
Two advertisers offered food products nearly identical. Both offered
a full-size package as an introduction. But one gave his package
free. The other bought the package. A coupon was good at any store
for a package, for which the maker paid retail price.
The first advertiser failed and the second succeeded. The first even
lost a large part of the trade he had. He cheapened his product by
giving a 15-cent package away. It is hard to pay for an article
which has once been free. It is like paying railroad fare after
traveling on a pass. The other gained added respect for his article
by paying retail price to let the user try it. An article good
enough for the maker to buy is good enough for the user to buy. It
is vastly different to pay 15 cents to let you try an article than
to simply say "It's free."
So with sampling. Hand an unwanted product to a housewife and she
pays it slight respect.
She is no mood to see
its virtues. But get her to ask for a sample after reading your
story, and she is in a very different position. She knows your
claims. She is interested in them, else she would not act. And she
expects to find the qualities you told.
There is a great deal in mental impression. Submit five articles
exactly alike and five people may choose one of them. But point out
in one some qualities to notice and everyone will find them. The
five people then will all choose the same article.
If people can be made sick or well by mental impressions, they can
be made to favor a certain brand in that way. And that, on some
lines, is the only way to win them.
Two concerns, side by side, sold women's clothing on installments.
The appeal, of course, was to poor girls who desire to dress better.
One treated them like poor girls and made the bare business offer.
The other put a woman in charge - a motherly, dignified, capable
woman. They did business in her name. They used her picture. She
signed all ads and letters. She wrote to these girls like a friend.
She knew herself what it meant to a girl not to be able to dress her
best. She had long sought a chance to supply women good clothes and
give them all season to pay. Now she was able to do so, with the aid
of men behind her. There was no comparison in those two appeals. It
was not long before this woman's long established next door rival
had to quit.
The backers of this business sold house furnishings on installments.
Sending out catalogs promiscuously did not pay. Offering long-time
credit often seems like a reflection.
But when a married woman bought garments from Mrs. _, and paid as
agreed, they wrote to her something like this: "Mrs. _, whom we
know, tells us that you are one of her good customers. She has dealt
with you, she says, and you do just as you agree. So we have opened
with you a credit account on our books, good any time you wish. When
you want anything in furnishings, just order it. Pay nothing in
advance. We are very glad to send it without any investigation to a
person recommended as you are. That was flattering. Naturally those
people, when they wanted some furniture, would order from that
There are endless phases to psychology. Some people know them by
instinct. Many of them are taught by experience. But we learn most
of them from others. When we see one winning method we note it down
for use when occasion offers.
These things are very important. An identical offer made in a
different way may bring multiplied returns. Somewhere in the mines
of business experience we must find the best method somehow."
So, do you believe that the psychology of selling has changed very
Do you recognize any of the techniques identified by Mr. Hopkins?
Are you using them or are
they being used on you?
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