The great copywriters and advertising specialists of today stand on the shoulders of giants that came before them. Harry Allen, Claude Hopkins, David Ogilvy, Maxwell Sackheim, John Caples, Rosser Reeves, and Elmer Wheeler are some names that come to mind, and there are many others. Scientific Advertising, My Life in Advertising, Ogilvy on Advertising…fascinating books, all of them. These classic advertising and copywriting books have much to teach us.
In the early days of advertising, the then-new battleground of direct mail marketing allowed these advertising specialists to test, refine, and perfect their advertising approaches. They were held accountable for every penny spent, and every result was tracked. As a result, these early pioneers learned, bit by bit but with great precision, exactly what worked and what didn’t.
The legacy they have left behind for modern copywriters to study is priceless. Even though times and communication methods have changed, the underlying human behavior is still very much the same. Like a trout rising to a fly, the consumer of today is just as likely to respond to a well-crafted offer as the consumer of decades past. Thanks to these classic writings, we can study what has been proven to work, and get a fascinating glimpse into the historical background of advertising and copywriting.
The classic copywriting books listed below just a few of the many available, but they are some of the best. You’ll also want to check out the Copywriting Resources section for free classic resources that are now in the public domain.
Learn from the Masters of Copywriting
Packed with insider secrets, rules, and wisdom from nearly 200 of the leading authorities on direct marketing, this is the essential tool for techniques that produce results. Experts Denny Hatch and Don Jackson cover all you need to know–from planning to implementation–and from target strategy to all aspects of the creative process.
Every discipline–from brain surgery to auto making to marketing–is based on the work of those who have gone before. You study their tests, capitalize on their successes, and learn from their failures. In short, every art, science, and industry has a set of canons, caveats, codes, constants, considerations, codicils, constraints, criteria, and customs that have been developed over time.
And so it is with direct marketing. To listen to some self-appointed marketing gurus who have recently “discovered” the discipline, you would think direct marketing is relatively new to the marketing scene. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Aside from the fact that direct marketing is more than 400 years old (the first book catalogs were printed in Venice in the 1500s), it has been a hallmark of 20th-century commerce because it is the one knowable way of building a business. Direct marketing is the business of acquiring customers and donors and getting to know them–keeping track of their transactions and then continuing to delight them by serving their current needs, creating new wants, and, above all, persuading them to act . . . to respond to a proposition.
Despite its long and profitable history, no one has assembled a single collection of all the basic secrets (or rules) of direct marketing. Until now. In these pages Denny Hatch and Don Jackson blitz you with the secrets, rules, and wisdom of nearly 200 of the great masters: from Claude Hopkins, David Ogilvy, and Max Sackheim to Jay Abraham, Dick Benson, Malcolm Decker, Bob Doscher, John J. Fleider, Jerry Gould, Bob Hacker, Dick Hodgson, Cecil Hoge Sr., Bill Jayme, Ted Kikoler, Jim Kobs, Herschell Gordon Lewis, Malcolm McCluskey, Don Nicholas, J. Peterman, Max Ross, Jim Rutz, Emily Soell, Lew Smith, Bob Stone, Joan Throckmorton, and John Yeck.
So . . . what is this book’s proposition? Simply that you can have, at your fingertips, the individual and collective wisdom of the greatest practitioners of this century about: Creative, Copy, Math, Space Ads, Direct Mail, Production, Management, Strategy, Lists, Testing, Offers, Fulfillment, Back-End Operations, Lead Generation, and (of course!) much, much more!
When Frank Bettger was twenty-nine he was a failed insurance salesman. By the time he was forty he owned a country estate and could have retired. What are the selling secrets that turned Bettger’s life around from defeat to unparalleled success and fame as one of the highest paid salesmen in America?
The answer is inside How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling. Bettger reveals his personal experiences and explains the foolproof principles that he developed and perfected. He shares instructive anecdotes and step-by-step guidelines on how to develop the style, spirit, and presence of a winning salesperson. No matter what you sell, you will be more efficient and profitable—and more valuable to your company—when you apply Bettger’s keen insights on:
• The power of enthusiasm
• How to conquer fear
• The key word for turning a skeptical client into an enthusiastic buyer
• The quickest way to win confidence
• Seven golden rules for closing a sale
During his six-decade career at the top advertising firm of BBDO (Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn), author John Caples pioneered the techniques of effective copy-testing. All copywriters, from cub to chief, can benefit from his helpful suggestions. “This is a valuable textbook for every student of advertising and every writer of ads,” declared the Christian Science Monitor, and Booklist pronounced it “of interest to anyone interested in what makes our business economy work.”
Told with brutal candor and prodigal generosity, David Ogilvy reveals:
• How to get a job in advertising
• How to choose an agency for your product
• The secrets behind advertising that works
• How to write successful copy—and get people to read it
• Eighteen miracles of research
• What advertising can do for charities
And much, much more.
“Buy this book, apply these secrets, and your prosperity will be assured.”
-Dan McComas, President, Dan McComas Associates,
Marketing & Management Consultants
“This breakthrough book, based on the ideas of a forgotten genius, will help smart marketers increase their effectiveness a minimum of fivefold.”
-Bruce David, publisher of Starting Smart
“The principles are sound and sensible and guaranteed to help any businessperson make more money. Since 99.9 percent of businesses don’t use them, anyone putting the seven lost secrets to work will gain an unbelievable edge over the competition.”
-Bob Bly, author of eighteen business books, including Selling
“One of the most revealing works ever-I literally couldn’t put it down. There are life and business success lessons in each chapter.”
-Jim Chandler, President, VistaTron
“Barton was the messiah of business who helped America pull out of the Great Depression. Now he can help all of us survive the current recession.”
-Scott Hammaker, CEO, Nashville Party Connection
“An excellent guide to better advertising, better promotions, and better marketing. My copywriting abilities and creative strategies have been strengthened and broadened. I’m awed and inspired.”
-Tina Nokes, owner, A-Plus Resume Service
“A passionate book on the timeless, inspiring, perceptive, forceful, and sincere ideas of Bruce Barton-a man nobody really knew, a genius lost in history.”
-Jim King, CPA, Houston
“These proven principles are the foundation upon which to build a prosperous enterprise.”
-Mark Weisser, CEO, Gulf Coast Security Systems