Scientific Advertising Book Review and Claude Hopkins Quotes

Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins is the advertising Bible for the small business owner.  It is highly endorsed by many top marketers such as Jay Abraham, Gary Halbert, and David Ogilvy. Even though the book was first published in 1923, the information is still very relevant today.

I’ve read the book several times now and can tell you that the information has helped me immensely.  Many of the lessons I’ve applied in my current business with great success.

What I’d like to do in this post is share my top 36 Claude Hopkins quotes from the book. These are simply quotes that really taught me a lot and helped me with my advertising methods.  Each quote is in bold.  I also provide my take of each quote immediately after it.  They are listed by where I found them in the book.  Enjoy.

# 1 The only purpose of advertising is to make sales.  Don’t make the common mistake of writing ads just to look good or win awards.  Your only goal should be to make sales and profit, nothing else.

# 2 A salesman’s mistake may cost little. An advertiser’s mistake may cost a thousand times that much.  A salesman can make a few mistakes when talking to a prospect and still get the sale.  Your print ad does not have that luxury.  If you mess up on an ad, it could cost you millions in lost business.

# 3 Fine talkers are rarely good salesmen.  The best salesmen are people who are informed about what they are selling and know how to ask good questions and listen.  They’re good at getting their prospects to talk about themselves.

# 4 Ads are not written to entertain.  The only purpose of an ad is to get someone to take action and make the cash register ring.  Once again, your goal should not be to win awards or be told you have a nice ad.  The best rewards are sales and PROFIT.

# 5 The advertising man studies the consumer.  He tries to place himself if the position of the buyer.   Learn everything you can about the consumer.  Learn how they think and what they think.

# 6 The reason for most of the non-success in advertising is trying to sell people what they do not want.  Make sure your product or service is something that people want, not something they need.  People buy what they want, not what they need. You can have the best copy in the world, but if people don’t want what you are selling you are wasting your time and money.

# 7 Advertising must be done on a scientific basis to have any fair chance of success.  You can’t wing your advertising.  You must test everything and have a “mathematical” approach to it. Otherwise, you will not get anywhere near the results that you could.

# 8 The purpose of a headline is to pick out people you can interest.  Your primary objective with your headline is to get people to read the copy of your ad.  It should sort out non-interested people and get interested people to keep reading.

# 9 It is not uncommon for a change in headlines to multiply returns from five to ten times over.  Sometimes changing a few words around in your headline can have a HUGE impact in the amount of sales and conversions.  You have to test a few different headlines until you find something that converts really well.

# 10 An offer limited to a certain class of people is far more effective than a general offer.  Don’t try to go after the masses. That’s too expensive and difficult to do.  Instead, pick a targeted niche or sub-nice group of people.  Focus on a specific group of people as much as possible.

# 11 An identical offer made in a different way may bring multiplied returns. Sometimes you have to test out different ways to make your offer in order to find out what converts the best.  Test out a few different things and stick with the best one.

# 12 If a claim is worth making, make it in the most impressive way.  If your product does something amazing, tell your prospects about it.  Only make claims if you can back them up with proof.

# 13 In every ad consider only new customers.  People using your product are not going to read your ads.  Your advertising should be designed to attract new customers, not to get your current customers to read it.

# 14 Changing people’s habits is very expensive.  People are creatures of habit.  We buy certain things and do certain things mostly out of habit.  And it’s very hard and expensive to get people to break these habits.

# 15 What cannot be done on a large scale profitably cannot be done on a small scale. Before you ever do anything on a grand scale, always start small.  If you can’t do it successfully on a small scale you won’t be able to do it successfully on a grand scale.

# 16 An ad writer, to have a chance at success, must gain full information on his subject.  Be a student of your business and niche.  Learn everything you can about your product, industry and target market. The more you know about these things the better off you will be.

# 17 Names that tell stories have been worth millions of dollars. Pick a good name for your product, preferably one that tells a story.

# 18 The greatest profits are made on great volume at small profit. Companies like Wal-mart succeed by doing high volume, with a low profit margin per sale.  Your other option is to sell fewer things, but at a higher margin.

# 19 The product itself should be its own best salesman. Create a product that once people buy it, they want to talk about it with others.  Make it great quality and exceptional.  Never sell inferior products.

# 20 Tests often show that samples pay for themselves – perhaps several times over – in multiplying the readers of your ads without additional cost of space.  Don’t be scared to use samples in your business.  If your product is good, samples will help you generate more sales.

# 21 Give samples to interested people only.  Give them only to people who exhibit that interest by some effort.  Give them only to people who you have told your story.  Don’t hand out samples to just anyone.  Only give it to people who respond to your offer and express an interest in it.

# 22 We usually start with local advertising, even though magazine advertising is best adapted to the article.  We get our distribution town by town then change to national advertising.  Start local and small, before you go big and national.

# 23 Half the circulation of newspapers may go to outside towns.   Just keep this in mind when you advertise.

# 24 Almost any questions can be answered, cheaply, quickly and finally, by a test campaign. And that’s the way to answer them – not by arguments around the table. The best way to get answers about your product or service is to ask your customers.  Don’t worry about the marketing department or Board of Directors.  Focus on want the consumer thinks and wants.

# 25 When we learn what a thousand customers cost, we know almost exactly what a million will cost.  Know your numbers.  They pretty much stay the same as you scale your efforts.  Know your cost per sale and cost per lead at a minimum.

# 26 From the few thousands will learn what the millions will do. Test what 1,000 people will do and you will know with good certainty what one million people will do.

# 27 Sales made by conviction – by advertising – are likely to bring permanent customers. People who buy through casual recommendations do not often stick.  If you want loyal customers, you will get them through your own advertising.  People who read your ad and have enough conviction to buy what you have to sell have already sold themselves.  Give them a good product and good customer service and you will have a life-long customer.

# 28 Your object in all advertising is to buy new customers at a price which pays a profit.  Whenever you can get a new customer at a break-even price or better, you are doing really well.  The real money is the back-end and repeat business.

# 29 To attack a rival is never good advertising.  Don’t speak badly about your competitors.  Be a professional at all times.

# 30 Don’t show the wrinkles you propose to remove, but the face that will appear.  Show people what they want, not what they have.

# 31 Assume that most people will do what you ask.  In your copy, be confident and ask people what you want them to do.  Many of them will do it.

# 32 Before the publisher sends out five million letters he puts a few thousand to test.  Always test small before you roll out a major campaign.

scientific advertising# 33 Experience generally shows that a two cent letter gets no more attention than a one cent letter.  Fine stationary no more than poor stationary.  The whole appeal lies in the matter.  Focus on the content of your message, not the stationary or letterhead, or postage.

# 34 Do something if possible to get immediate action.  Offer some inducement for it.  Or tell what delay may cost.  Note how many successful selling letters place a limit on an offer.  It expires on a certain date.  That is all done to get prompt decision, to overcome the tendency to delay.  It’s always a smart move to make your offer a limited time offer.  Show people they have something to lose and many of them will place an order, so they don’t miss out.

# 35 End the ad with an offer to pay five dollars to anyone who writes you that he read the ad through.  This is a simple way to see if people are even reading your ads all the way through.

# 36 You see other ads which you may not like as well.  They may seem crowded or verbose. They are not attractive to you, for you are seeking something to admire, something to entertain.  But you will note that those ads are keyed.  The probability is that out of scores of traced ads the type which you see has paid the best.   Don’t judge an ad by how it looks.  Instead, judge it by how well it converts.

About Claude Hopkins

Now that I’ve shared my favorite Claude Hopkins quotes with you, I thought I would take a moment and tell you a little bit more about the guy.  Here are a few facts about Claude Hopkins.

  • Born in 1866 and died in 1932
  • He was one of the first pioneers of advertising in the United States
  • He believe the only purpose of advertising was to sell something
  • In 1907, he was paid a salary of $185,000
  • He was one of the first people to use testing and coupons to track advertising results
  • He was a big fan of using samples to sell more products

I thought you might find these facts a little bit interesting.

Buy the Book

Final Thoughts

In summary, Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins is a must read book for any small business owner.  Although it was published nearly 100 years ago, the information is just as relevant today as it was back then.

If you enjoyed this post, I would appreciate if you would leave a comment and tell me which quote you enjoyed the most.  Or, if you have a different quote from the book that is your favorite, you can share that too.  I look forward to hearing from you.

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4 thoughts on “Scientific Advertising Book Review and Claude Hopkins Quotes

  1. Diamond Grant

    I do agree that sometimes you have to try several techniques or strategies before you find the one that works the best. I’ve had conversations with people who were ready to quit after only trying one strategy as if they had never considered the idea that they could and really should try multiple ideas. I definitely had to try several things, but I am glad I did. I learned what worked, what didn’t, and why. Therefore I was better able to find a solution that worked.

  2. Greg Boudonck

    I had no clue as I read this that we were talking about an advertising guru from over a century ago. So many of the quotes are useful as much today as they were then. There are a few I disagree with, and I will explain why.

    #4. I believe that mankind has become so adapted to ads that advertising needs to be entertaining now. I believe this is one of the time difference things.

    #18. People will spend more to have better. I firmly disagree on the Walmart mindset. Many consumers will purchase the same exact product, but will pay the higher price believing they are getting better quality.

    #30. It has been shown as a great technique in showing before and after pictures. Do show the wrinkles, but also show the wrinkles gone.

    Other than those 3, all the other quotes are as good for today as they were then. Thank you for sharing this.


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