We continue our tour through notable milestones in advertising history.
In 1916 James Walter Thompson retires and a group of colleagues buy him out for $500,000
In the year 1917 American Association of Advertising Agencies founded with 111 members.
In 1919 Barton, Durstine and Osborn (BDO) open in New York.
In 1919 James Webb Young became famous for his Odorono ad. This was the first attempt ever at advertising women’s deodorant. At the time, there was up-roar. Many women perceived his ad as offensive. His headline ran: “Within the Curve of a Woman’s Arm.” But he was proved right as sales of the product soared 112% in the first year.
In 1921 Baygul and Jacobs open in Omaha
It was in the 1920s that Emmanuel Haldeman Julius sold over 200 million copies of his Little Blue Books .
And he never wrote a single one of them. All he ever did was market them, and if a title didn’t work for him he changed it. In his own words: “A good title is a work of genius.”
He reckoned that just changing the title of a book increased sales. Who can argue?
His book, not surprisingly titled: “The First Hundred Million” shows how he advertised his little books in newspapers and magazine ads.
Here’s what copy-writing legend Gary Halbert had to say: “Go read a copy of “The First Hundred Million.” It is where I learned my magic words…the ones that make copy SIZZLE and my headlines impossible to ignore.”
E. Haldeman-Julius had a system. If a title didn’t sell over 10,000 copies in a year, it was sent to a place in his office called “The Hospital” and here it would be given a new title. And if the new title bombed, then it went into “The Morgue.”
As an example, he had a book titled: “Art of Controversy” which didn’t exceed his 10,000 copy yardstick. The title was changed to: “How to Argue Logically” and sales soared to 30,000 copies. Why? He changed nothing about the book – just the title.
By doing this, Haldeman-Julius discovered that certain words, when used in the title, could increase sales of almost any book.
For example, a book by Dr. Arthur Cramp in 1925 called: “Patent Medicine” sold a measly 3,000 copies. Haldeman-Julius changed the title to: “The Truth About Patent Medicine” and sales rose to a respectable 10,000 copies. Haldeman-Julius found that the words: “The Truth About” had some sort of magic.
Haldeman-Julius found that old chestnut: “How To” in a title was far and away the best. For example, the title: “How to Psycho-analyze Yourself” out-sold “Psycho-analysis Explained” and “How I Psycho-analyzed Myself” by almost four times.
He found that the words: Life; Love; Sex; Romance; self-improvement; and entertainment also worked well in titles.
He discovered how small changes in his titles resulted in massive differences in sales.
If you have a product that is not doing as well as you would like. Take a look at the title. Does it contain the main benefit to your customers? Does it offer some curiosity?
Or has it got a title that has got within some cute expression that your customer has to guess what your product or service is? If so, get rid of it.
Try changing the title of your sales copy. But before you do, make sure it’s a change for the better.
We are now in an “Information Age” and people want information – desperately. The internet is a perfect example.
People want facts. Well, guess what Haldeman-Julius found? “The Facts You Should Know .” proved to be a massive hit. Nothing’s changed since his days. These words still work today.
You can use Haldeman-Julius’ wisdom in your business today, no matter what line you’re in. Use his ideas in your reports, titles and in your headlines for your copy. Whenever you’re stuck for a headline idea, try playing with the words:
“How to” or “The Truth About” or “The Art of” or “Facts That You Should Know” or “The Key to..” or “The Story of” or “A Little Secret That.” And plenty more you can dream up for yourself.
Haldeman-Julius was quite unique in what he did. He didn’t write any books. He took what others had written. All he ever did was market them. And he did this by title only. There was no body copy – just the titles.
Another master of copywriting, David Ogilvy, used to write out his headlines and practice them on his friends and family.
He is remembered for one stunning headline. But before he found it he had written 104 different headlines.
That headline was, of course, his famous Rolls Royce copy: “At 60 Miles An Hour, the Loudest Noise in the New Rolls Royce comes from the Electric Clock.”
Take heart, if a pro like David Ogilvy had to write all those headlines and test them out on friends, that surely tells you something.
David Ogilvy will also be remembered for his: “The Man in The Hathaway Shirt” which ran for 25 years.
Also his Schweppes advertising campaign, where he persuaded the client, Commander Whitehead, to appear in his own advertisement and this ran for 18 years.
His Ad for Rolls Royce remains as the most famous automobile advertisement of all time.
He wrote two books: “Confessions of an Advertising Man” and “Ogilvy on Advertising.”
Some advertisers run without any headline at all because their creators think it’s trendy or clever. Seldom will such an ad succeed.
If advertisers were to test, they would know what works and what doesn’t.
Here’s another point. A long headline that really says something is much, much better than a short headline that says nothing.
And, arguably, the most famous headline of all time was written by John Caples: “They Laughed When I Sat Down at The Piano – but When I Started to Play….” This ad was written for the U.S.School of Music and people are still copying it today.
And shortly afterwards, Caples wrote another famous headline: “They Grinned When The Waiter Spoke To Me In French…But When They Heard My Reply..” Which was also written for an educational establishment.
These headline ideas are still used to good effect now.
Caples disliked humor in his ads and once said: Only half the people in this country have a sense of humor, and clever ads seldom sell anything.
Before we leave the subject of headlines, the topic would not be complete without some reference to Maxwell Sackheim’s classic: “Do You Make These Mistakes in English?”
You’ve probably read this headline somewhere but did you know it was originally titled: “Are You Afraid of Making Mistakes in English?”
Obviously, the first headline out-pulled the second one. But do you know why? And do you know which single word made all the difference?
Hint: a headline that appeals to your reader’s self-interest is the best type of headline. And if the headline also appeals to the reader’s wants, it almost can’t fail.
These two appeals will make your reader want to read the copy.
The word “these” is the single word that makes all the difference.
That first headline aroused the reader’s self-interest and curiosity. It suggests reading the copy to find out what “these” mistakes are and to avoid them.
The second headline just suggests it is a stuffy old book on English grammar. And nobody wants to read any such type of book.
Sackheim’s winning ad ran for 40 years, without interruption. A record that still hasn’t been broken.
Great headlines sell. Period!