6 Prescient Maxims on Advertising from 1918

Scientific advertising

In 1918, Claude Hopkins published Scientific Advertising. It's written with so much certainty, and yet 95 years later, we're still just realizing or grappling with some of what Hopkins knew to be the absolute truth back then. 

Now, much of it was dated. This is a book that, tactically, is about mail orders and door to door salesmen. But enough of it needs to be read by marketers today.

Here are a few excerpts that are particularly timely:

On the consumer-centric approach:

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.

On job safety:

The correct methods of procedure have been proved and established. We know what is most effective, and we act on basic law. Advertising, once a gamble, has thus become, under able direction, one of the safest business ventures.

On who to hire:

Many of the ablest men in advertising are graduate salesmen. The best we know have been house-to-house canvassers. They may know little of grammar, nothing of rhetoric, but they know how to use words that convince.

On American consumers:

We learn that cheapness is not a strong appeal. Americans are extravagant. They want bargains but not cheapness. They want to feel that they can afford to eat and have and wear the best. Treat them as if they could not and they resent your attitude.

On data-driven marketing:

…An advertising campaign is usually preceded by a very large volume of data. Even an experimental campaign, for effective experiments cost a great deal of work and time.

And then there's one of the greater understatements ever said about the profession:

…This is no lazy mans field.