“The time has come when advertising has in the hands of some reached the status of science.”

Claude Hopkins – Scientific Advertising.

On the front cover of “Scientific Advertising” published with Hopkins autobiography is a David Ogilvy quote: “Nobody should be allowed to have anything to do with advertising until he has read Scientific Advertising seven times. It changed the course of my life.”

Having engaged in Ogilvy’s little exercise I can wholeheartedly agree.

Hopkins took the selling techniques of carnival pitchmen, codified them and used them as the basis for all of his ads.

Personally his philosophy for me is best broken down into three main tenants.

#1) Your ads job is to sell.

Regardless of what you are advertising you are always selling something. More likely several things at the same time, in order to get the sale you are after. If you are selling a client to accept a ‘Free’ offer you still need to be selling – Why they should take you up on that free offer?

Your ads should behave like a salesperson who is in a good quality prospect’s home or office – persuading them to take action on your proposition – that means that they buy what you are asking them to.

Copywriters primary job is to sell the products and services promoted. No more, no less.

That means a copywriter‘s true job is to create salesmanship in print. Marketing’s job is to help facilitate that.

#2) Track Response.

If your ads job is to sell then that means you can track how effectively it is doing its job. Hopkins popularised the coupon as a response mechanism.

Since then we have evolved to include 1800 numbers, all the tracking goodies on the internet, faxes… But really they are all technological equivalents of to Hopkins glorious little invention: The Coupon as a tool to track response to his ads.

Once you know how an ad performs you know whether or not it is making you money.


If you know the response rates and a couple of other key metrics you can compare one ad to another and decide which one is better.

This is the best way determine which ad is best. Let the market decide. Make them ‘vote with their wallets.’

Claude’s pithy wisdom on the subject is:

“Any question can be answered cheaply, quickly and finally with a test campaign.”

Test, keep the best ad and then continuously try and beat it. That way your continuous improvement stacks up and your response continuously gets better. You have no idea how powerful this is until you have experienced it first had.

Source by Zac R Nelles