Top positive review
A direct response marketing classic
3 December 2015
This book is generally considered to be a direct response marketing classic and essential reading for anyone who wants to be a copywriter.
John Caples was a naval engineer turned advertising man, and like all engineers, he thrived on feedback and analysis. The only thing that interested him was advertising that sold and he systematically tested small changes to see if he could find things that worked even better.
He was also a creative genius with words. At the age of 25 and within months of starting as a copywriter, he created one of the classic headlines to sell a correspondence course in playing the piano."They Laughed When I Sat Down At The Piano But When I Started To Play!-"
Within a month, he had reworked the headline to sell a French correspondence course: "They grinned when the waiter spoke to me in French - but their laughter turned to amazement at my reply". This emotional pull - embarrassment turns into unexpected respect - has been reworked many times since.
The book is particularly strong on headlines and a comparison of the results of headlines which have worked against those that didn't. The blunt truth is that if the headline doesn't capture the reader's attention, the advert is ignored and the product isn't sold. These few chapters will pay for the cost of the book on its own many times over.
The rest of the book is also packed with advertising ideas that works. When you see them, you can understand why but when you're trying to put the words together by yourself, things are never this easy.
Fred Hahn has done a good job in bringing this advertising and copywriting classic comparatively up to date with this revision. Modern adverts are used as well as the old classics and you can see how things have developed. Not everyone agrees. I've been watching a series of videos by Drayton Bird (another great copywriter) on this book and he feels the earlier, pure Caples book was stronger.
The advice on headlines has stayed with me since I first read the book. There is some repetition which can get frustrating but I still rate it as a five star book. My copy is covered in highlights to make it easier to review. While the ideas and concepts in this book are referred to in many modern copywriting books, I don't believe that there is any substitute for reading this book.
If you're a copywriter, you need this book along with the other classic texts by Claude Hopkins, Victor Schwartz etc. The language can feel a little old fashioned but the ideas are still very relevant in the 21st century because people's natures don't change.
Paul Simister, a business coach who helps business owners who are stuck, get unstuck. I'm also someone fascinated by copywriting and the power to persuade.