Here’s some of my favourite copywriting and advertising books…
Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene M. Schwartz. Mr Eugene was a real copywriting genius – a true legend. He started in mail order as a delivery boy in 1949 and soon, in 1954, he was the president of his own mail order firm. This is a deep, deep book about producing ads that work. Definitely not a fast read. David Garfinkel recommends “…read it several times. Take notes. Ponder. Tinker. Look for examples. Try the ideas. Then go back to it again.” If you want everything ‘quick and easy’ then give this book a pass…it’s probably not for you. On the other hand if you want to dig deep into the subject of copywriting and understand the buying psychology then you should take the time to read and learn from this copywriting master. At $95 it’s not a cheap book but a must-read for every serious copywriter.
Scientific Advertising by Claude C. Hopkins is the most concise, to the point book on advertising ever written. All top copywriters – past and present – recommend this book. The author, Claude Hopkins, is called the “founding father” of modern advertising. The principles he discovered and documented during his lifetime are as true today as they were in the past, and apply to all forms of advertising – both offline and online. Mr Hopkins had an ability to translate complex, often misunderstood and theoretical marketing ideas into easy-to-understand action steps you can profit from immediately. This advertising classic covers the laws of advertising, mail-order marketing, headlines, human psychology, effective selling, the keys to impactful communication, business strategy, money-back guarantees, and other advanced techniques that will increase the selling power of your copy, and put more money in your pocket. If you’re an avid student of copywriting or a bottom-line focused business owner or entrepreneur, you want to read it at least once a year for the rest of your life. This is not a book to be read and put away. This is THE advertising classic that will help you take your copywriting skills to the next level every time you read it. Legendary advertising man, David Ogilvy, argued “Nobody should be allowed to have anything to do with advertising until he has read Scientific Advertising SEVEN times.”
Tested Advertising Methods by John Caples. The famous ad ‘They Laughed When I Sat Down At the Piano…’ was penned by this copywriting genius. He began his career as a copywriter in 1925, taught advertising at Columbia, wrote copy for Du Pont, The Reader’s Digest, The Wall Street Journal, and many others. In 1973 Caples was elected into the Copywriters Hall of Fame and four years later into the Advertising Hall of Fame. Tested Advertising Methods is probably one of the most useful advertising books that you will ever read. It’s packed with simple, practical and proven advertising advice that you can apply to your business the very next day. This copywriting classic describes the methods of writing headlines, the first paragraph and the rest of the copy to make people read your ads from start to finish. It shows you how to connect and build rapport with your target market and how to increase the selling power of your copy. You’ll also learn how to create layouts and illustrations that attract attention. There are many revised editions of this book, I suggest that you get the earliest edition you can get your hands on (4th edition or earlier) that was actually written by Mr Caples.
Confessions Of An Advertising Man by David Ogilvy. David Ogilvy was an advertising genius who at the age of 37 founded the New York-based agency that later merged to form the international company known as Ogilvy & Mather. Ogilvy was responsible for some of the most memorable advertising campaigns ever created. Confessions of an Advertising Man is the distillation of all the Ogilvy concepts, tactics, and techniques that made this international best-seller a blueprint for sound business practice. This is an old book (I have the original 1963 edition, the cover is different to the new version shown on the left) but its wisdom is timeless. Mr Ogilvy’s clear concise and refreshing writing style makes it a quick easy read.