We continue our journey through outstanding milestones in the history of advertising.
In 1916, James Walter Thompson retires and a group of colleagues buy it 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 Odorono advertisement. This was the first attempt at deodorant advertising for women. At that time, there was an uproar. Many women perceived his advertisement as offensive. Its headline read: “Inside the curve of a woman’s arm.” But he was proven right, with product sales soaring 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 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, not surprisingly titled “The First One Hundred Million,” shows how he advertised his little books in newspapers and magazines.
Here’s what copywriting legend Gary Halbert had to say: “Go read a copy of ‘The First Hundred Million.’ It’s where I learned my magic words… the ones that make copy SPARKLE and make my headlines impossible.” to ignore.”
E. Haldeman-Julius had a system. If a title didn’t sell more than 10,000 copies in a year, he was sent to a place in his office called “The Hospital” and given a new title. And if the new title bombed, then it went to “The Morgue”.
As an example, he had a book titled: “The Art of Controversy” that didn’t make it past his 10,000 copies criteria. The title was changed to: “How to Argue Logically” and sales skyrocketed to 30,000 copies. Why? She didn’t change anything about the book, just the title.
In doing this, Haldeman-Julius discovered that certain words, when used in the title, could increase the sales of almost any book.
For example, a book by Dr. Arthur Cramp in 1925 called “Patent Medicine” sold just 3,000 copies. Haldeman-Julius changed the title to: “The Truth About Patent Medicine” and sales increased 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 Yourself” outsold “Psychoanalysis Explained” and “How I Psychoanalyzed Myself” nearly four times.
He found that the words: Life; Love; Sex; Romance; personal growth; and the entertainment also worked well in the titles.
He discovered how small changes to his titles made big differences in sales.
If you have a product that is not working as well as you would like. Take a look at the title. Does it contain the main benefit for your customers? Does it offer something of curiosity?
Or do you have a headline that has 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 the days of him. These words still work today.
You can use the wisdom of Haldeman-Julius in your business today, no matter what line you’re in. Use their ideas in your reports, headlines, and headlines for your copy. Whenever you run out of an idea for a headline, try playing with words:
“How to” 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 about it”. And much more that you can dream 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 did was market them. And he did it just for the title. There was no copy of the body, only the titles.
Another copywriting master, David Ogilvy, used to write his headlines and practice them on his friends and family.
He is remembered for an impressive 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.”
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 play, “The Man in the Hathaway T-Shirt,” which ran for 25 years.
Also his Schweppes ad campaign where he persuaded the client, Commander Whitehead, to appear in his own ad and this lasted 18 years.
His Rolls Royce ad remains the most famous car ad of all time.
He wrote two books: “Confessions of an Advertiser” and “Ogilvy on Advertising.”
Some advertisers post without a title because their creators think it’s cool or clever. Rarely will such an ad be successful.
If advertisers tested, they would know what works and what doesn’t.
Here is 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 playing…” This ad was written for the US School of Music. and people are still copying it today.
And soon after, Caples wrote another famous headline: “They smiled 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 disliked humor in his ads, once saying: Only half the people in this country have a sense of humor, and clever ads rarely sell anything.
Before leaving the topic 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 that it was originally titled: “Are you afraid of making mistakes in English?”
Obviously, the first starter outperformed the second. But do you know why? And do you know which word made all the difference?
Hint: A headline that draws your reader’s self-interest is the best type of headline. And if the headline also appeals to the reader’s wishes, it can hardly fail.
These two appeals will make your reader want to read the copy.
The word “these” is the one word that makes all the 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 to avoid them.
The second headline simply suggests that this is a stuffy old book on English grammar. And no one wants to read that kind of book.
Sackheim’s winning ad ran for 40 years, without interruption. A record that has not yet been broken.
Big headlines sell. Period!