Caples on Copy

by buildingpharmabrands

John Caples (1900 - 1990)

John Caples (1900 – 1990)

Advertising Age wrote of John Caples in their special issue, The Advertising Century:

“For more than 50 years, John Caples served as one of advertising’s most effective copy writers. Caples mastered results-oriented mail-order copy at Ruthrauff & Ryan, where he wrote, arguably, the 20th century’s most successful such ad: They laughed when I sat down at the piano – but when I started to Play! As a teacher, lecturer, and writer, he stressed simplicity and getting to the point quickly. He joined what became BBDO (Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn) in 1927, where he served almost to the end of his days.”

John Caples, the greatest direct marketing copywriter ever, wrote about a 7-point checklist for evaluating advertising copy in his book Making Ads Pay, first published in 1957. He asked himself these questions for every piece of copy he wrote. Although these questions primarily refer to ad copy, they apply to every marketing communication context.

  1. Does your ad hold the audience?
  2. Does your copy hold the audience?
  3. Does your copy create desire?
  4. Do you prove it is a bargain?
  5. Do you establish credibility?
  6. Do you make it easy to act?
  7. Do you give prospects a reason to act at once?

Every time you write an advertising copy be it for a drop-off literature, visual aid, Web content, put it through a test by asking these questions. If the answer is ‘Yes’ to all the seven questions go ahead. If the answer is ‘No’ even for one question, remember you have still work to do.