We continue our journey through notable milestones in the history of advertising.
In 1916, James Walter Thompson retired and a group of colleagues bought him for $ 500,000.
In 1917 the American Association of Advertising Agencies was founded with 111 members.
In 1919 Barton, Durstine and Osborn (BDO) opened in New York.
In 1919, James Webb Young became famous for his advertisement for Odorono. This was the first attempt at advertising deodorant for women. At that time, there was a huge uproar. Many women perceived your ad as offensive. Its headline read: “Inside the curve of a woman’s arm.” But he was proven right, as sales of the product soared 112% in the first year.
In 1921 Baygul and Jacobs opened in Omaha
It was in the 1920s that Emmanuel Haldeman Julius sold more than 200 million copies of his Little Blue Books.
And he never wrote a single one of them. All he 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 calculated that simply changing the title of a book increased sales. Who can argue?
His book, unsurprisingly, entitled: “The First Hundred Million”, shows how he advertised his little books in newspapers and magazine ads.
Here’s what copywriting legend Gary Halbert said: “Go read a copy of ‘The First Hundred Million.’ It’s where I learned my magic words … the ones that make the SIZZLE copy and my headlines impossible to ignore. “
E. Haldeman-Julius had a system. If a title did not sell more than 10,000 copies in a year, it was shipped to a place in his office called “The Hospital” and a new title would be given here. And if the new title failed, he entered “La Morgue.”
As an example, he had a book entitled: “The Art of Controversy” that did not exceed his criteria of 10,000 copies. The title was changed to “How to Argue Logically” and sales soared to 30,000 copies. Why? Nothing in the book changed, just the title.
By doing this, Haldeman-Julius discovered that certain words, when used in the title, could increase the sales of almost any book.
For example, a 1925 Dr. Arthur Cramp book 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 discovered that the words: “The truth about” had some kind of magic.
Haldeman-Julius found that old chestnut: “How” in a title was by far the best. For example, the title “How to Psychoanalyze Myself” outsold “Psychoanalysis Explained” and “How I Will Psychoanalyze Myself” nearly four times.
He found the words: Life; Love; Sex; Romance; personal growth; and the entertainment worked well on the titles too.
He discovered how small changes to their titles made huge differences in sales.
If you have a product that is not working as well as you would like it to be. Take a look at the title. Does it contain the main benefit for your customers? Do you offer any curiosity?
Or do you have a title that you have within a 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 desperately want information. The Internet is a perfect example.
People want facts. Well guess what Haldeman-Julius found? “The Facts You Should Know”. it turned out to be a great success. Nothing has changed since his days. These words still work today.
You can use the wisdom of Haldeman-Julius in your business today, no matter what line you are on. Use your ideas in your reports, titles, and headlines for your copy. Whenever you get stuck with a headline idea, try playing with the words:
“How” or “The truth about” or “The art of” or “Facts you should know” or “The key to …” or “The story of” or “A little secret”. And much more that you can dream for yourself.
Haldeman-Julius was quite unique in what he did. He did not write any books. He took what others had written. All he did was market them. And he did it only by title. There was no body text, just the titles.
Another master of copywriting, David Ogilvy, used to write his headlines and practice them with his friends and family.
It is remembered for an amazing 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 per hour, the loudest noise in the new Rolls Royce comes from the electric clock.”
Cheer up, if a pro like David Ogilvy were to write all those headlines and test them out with friends, he will surely tell you something.
David Ogilvy will also be remembered for his “The Man in the Hathaway Shirt,” which ran for 25 years.
Also his Schweppes ad campaign, where he persuaded the client, Major Whitehead, to appear in his own ad and it lasted 18 years.
His Rolls Royce advertisement remains the most famous automobile advertisement of all time.
He wrote two books: “Confessions of a Publicist” and “Ogilvy on Advertising”.
Some advertisers run without a title because their creators think it’s hot or smart. Rarely will such an ad be successful.
If advertisers tested, they would know what works and what doesn’t.
Here’s another point. A long title that actually says something is much, much better than a short title that says nothing.
And possibly 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 USSchool of Music and people are still copying it today.
And soon after, Caples wrote another famous headline: “They were smiling when the waiter spoke to me in French … but when they heard my answer …”, which was also written for an educational establishment.
These headline ideas are still being used to good effect now.
Caples did not like humor in his ads and once said: Only half the people in this country have a sense of humor, and smart ads rarely sell anything.
Before leaving the subject of the headlines, the subject would not be complete without some reference to the classic by Maxwell Sackheim: “Do you make these mistakes in English?”
You’ve probably read this headline somewhere, but did you know that it was originally titled: “Are You Afraid of Making Mistakes in English?”
Obviously, the first headline outperformed the second. But do you know why? And do you know what word made the difference?
Tip: A headline that engages your reader’s self-interest is the best type of headline. And if the headline also appeals to the reader’s wishes, you can hardly go wrong.
These two appeals will make your reader want to read the copy.
The word “these” is the only word that makes a difference.
That first headline aroused the interest and curiosity of the reader. He suggests reading the copy to find out what “these” mistakes are and avoid them.
The second headline only suggests that it is a stifling old book on English grammar. And nobody wants to read such a book.
Sackheim’s winning ad ran for 40 years, without interruption. A record that has yet to be broken.
Big headlines sell. Period!