Scientific Advertising – what a book written in 1923 can teach us about connecting in 2016

I came across ‘Scientific Advertising’ over the weekend, after researching some copywriting work needed for a lovely client.  David Ogilvy thought it was great, apparently, and as his is usually the final word in advertising I made myself a huge mug of coffee and fired up the Kindle app.

Throughout the book Claude Hopkins, the advertising pioneer credited with making teeth-brushing popular, talks to his readers like a stern yet well-meaning grandfather.  The endearing style reminded me of my Nan, coincidentally born in 1923, the same year this book was published. 

Like my Nan, most of what Claude had to say was plain and simple.  In short, don’t advertise unless the results can be tracked and monitored, telling you what works and what doesn’t.  Advertising is about buying customers at a price which will then pay a profit.  “The time is fast coming when men who spend money are going to know what they get,” he says prophetically.

For me, the sparkling gems in this book are in what Claude says about connecting with people in words.   They’re reassuring, because regardless of whether we’re talking about connecting in 1923 or in 2016, they remain unchanged:

o   Don’t think of people as a massed group, speak as though you’re talking to an individual person who has shown an interest in what you’re selling.  Tell them exactly what they need to know.

o   The people who take the time to read your copy are people who are already interested in what you’re offering.  Concentrate on them, not on pleasing people who aren’t likely to do business with you.

o   Don’t write to please yourself, but to please the customer.  Be authentic.

o   “The more you tell, the more you sell.”  Storytelling is big business; it always has been and always will be because most people like to connect with and understand the personality behind brands (think of some of the world's best-known brands and the chances are you will be able to describe their personalities very quickly).

Later that day, I read through a ‘social media strategy toolkit’ from a well-known PR company.  The language they used was more feisty teenager than Claude’s stern grandfather, but the principles were very much the same.    Namely,  speak to people as individuals, be authentic and “apply to your advertising ordinary common sense.”

If you’d like to talk about all the interesting stories you could be telling your customers, why not contact me for a chat?