Claude Hopkins and Scientific Advertising
Claude C. Hopkins (1866 – 1932) was one of the great advertising pioneers. He believed advertising existed only to sell something and therefore, should be measurable and accountable. Claude Hopkins had built a huge reputation by turning dozens of previously unknown products such as Quaker Oats, Goodyear Tires, The Bissell Carpet Sweeper, Van Camp’s Pork and beans among others. Charles Duhigg credits Hopkins for creating a tooth-brushing habit among American population with his brilliant Pepsodent toothpaste campaign in his best selling book, The Power of Habit.
Claude Hopkins was perhaps the first person to use key coded coupons to track the results of his advertising and then tested headlines, offers and propositions against one another. He always strived continuously to improve his ad results driving responses. He was also concerned about the cost-effectiveness of his ads and continuously improved it by using the analysis of these measurements. He always insisted copywriters research their clients’ products and produce persuasive, reason-why copy.
Claude Hopkins wrote Scientific Advertising in 1923. It is valid even today in 2013. It will be relevant even tomorrow. David Ogilvy, one of the greatest advertising gurus once said that nobody at any level should be allowed to have anything to do with advertising until he has read ‘Scientific Advertising’ seven times. He got his copy in 1923 from Rosser Reeves, another legendary ad man, who gave the concept of USP (Unique Selling Proposition) to the world. Since then, David Ogilvy had given 379 copies of the book to clients and colleagues. That’s how great a book Scientific Advertising is. Four years later, in 1927 Claude Hopkins wrote another book giving his autobiographical account, My Life in Advertising.
Here are the ten commandments, and principles etched in the stone of advertising, which offer valuable insights into the art and science of advertising:
1.Don’t think of the people in the mass. That gives a blurred view. Think of a typical individual, man or woman who is likely to want what you sell. Don’t try to be amusing. Money spending is a serious matter. Don’t boast, for all people resent it. Don’t try to show off. Do just what you think a good salesman should do with half-sold person before him.
2. The maker of an advertised article knows the manufacturing side and probably the dealer’s side. But the very knowledge often leads him astray in respect to customers. His interests are not in their interests. The advertising man studies the consumer. He tries to place himself in the position of the buyer. His success largely depends on doing that to the exclusion of everything else.
3. The ads are based entirely on service. They offer wanted information. They cite advantages to users. Perhaps they offer a sample, or to buy the first package, or to send something on approval, so the customer may prove the claims without any cost or risks. Some of these ads seem altruistic. But they are based on the knowledge of human nature. The writers know how people are led to buy.
4. People can be coaxed but not driven. Whatever they do they do to please themselves.
5. What you have will interest certain people only, and for certain reasons. You care only for those people. Then create a headline, which will hail those people only.
6. All guess work is eliminated. Every mistake is conspicuous. One quickly loses this conceit by learning how often his judgement errs – often nine times in ten. There one learns that advertising must be done on a scientific basis to have any fair chance of success.
7.To say Best in the World, Lowest price in existence etc, are at best simply claiming the expected. But superlatives of that sort are usually damaging. They suggest looseness of expression, a tendency to exaggerate, a careless truth. They lead readers to discount all the statements that you make.
8. We must consider individuals, typical people who are using rival brands. A man on a Pullman, for instance, using his favorite soap. What could you say to him in person to get him to change to yours? We cannot go after thousands of men until we learn how to win one.
9. Give samples to interested people only. Give them only to people who exhibit that interest by some effort. Give them only to people whom you have told your story. First create an atmosphere of respect, a desire, an expectation. When people are in that mood, your sample will usually confirm the qualities you claim.
10. Show a bright side, the happy and attractive side, not the dark and uninviting side of things. Show beauty, not homeliness; health, not sickness. Don’t show the wrinkles you propose to remove, but the face as it will appear. Your customers know all about wrinkles.
Remember these ten commandments of advertising every time you are creating an ad for your product, and you are much more likely to create ads that move people and products.