Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins introduces a timeless, data-driven approach to advertising. His principles have helped refine my thinking, and I consider him a trusted mentor.
It is rare to pick up a book and uncover so many fundamental truths. As a result, Hopkins’ first principles thinking in the early 20th century led to many other great advertisers, including David Ogilvy, and has propagated into all modern practices. He was the grandfather of split testing, iterative improvements, and appealing to consumer psychology. More broadly, he had a set process he followed instead of blindly following his (or his client’s) gut.
I found beauty in being able to apply these principles immediately in my role as Director of Growth, which revolves around attracting and acquiring customers to Rev’s transcription, caption, subtitles, and translation services. More broadly, the book is relevant to anyone who communicates with others using words and images, from Advertising to Sales to Product.
The principles speak directly to human psychology.
“Thus we test everything pertaining to advertising. We answer nearly every possible question by multitudinous traced returns.”
“The only purpose of advertising is to make sales…Treat it as a salesman. Force it to justify itself.”
“We are after new customers always.”
“Do nothing to merely interest, amuse, or attract…Do only that which wins the people you are after in the cheapest possible way.”
“Spend far more time on the headline than on writing.”
“The weight of an argument may often be multiplied by making it specific”
“A man who makes a specific claim is either telling the truth or a lie. People do not expect an advertiser to lie.”
“One must be able to express himself briefly, clearly and convincingly, just as a salesman must.”
“Remember the people you address are selfish, as we all are. They care nothing about your interests or profit. They seek service for themselves.”
“Advertising is much like war…We must have skill and knowledge. We must have training and experience, also the right equipment. We must have the proper ammunition, and enough. We dare not underestimate opponents.”
“Keep a beginner’s mindset for messaging across all channels”
“It is certainly unwise to spend large sums on a dubious adventure.”
“The time has come when advertising has in some hands reached the status of a science. It is based on fixed principles and is reasonably exact… Every course is charted. The compass of accurate knowledge directs the shortest, safest, cheapest course to any destination.”
“We constantly seek for better methods, without interrupting plans already proved out.”
Special thank you David Cancel and Dave Gerhardt for recommending this book on Seeking Wisdom. It has already led to improved decision-making frameworks for Rev’s Growth Team, particularly around continuously testing channels that are already working and placing small bets in new channels.
If you have questions or want to talk about Growth, Marketing, or Advertising, please reach out: Barron.Caster@gmail.com or LinkedIn.