Quotes from Great Marketing Books — Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins

Written in 1923. 100 years later, the rules still apply.

Link to the book

Just Salesmanship

“Measure ads by salesmen’s standards, not by amusement standards. Ads are not written to entertain. When they do, those entertainment seekers are little likely to be the people whom you want. That is one of the greatest advertising faults. Ad writers abandon their parts. They forget they are salesmen and try to be performers. Instead of sales, they seek applause”

Offer service

“Remember the people you address are selfish, as we all are. They care nothing about your interests or your profit. They seek service for themselves.”


The purpose of the headline is to pick out people you can interest. You wish to talk to someone in a crowd, so the first thing you say is, “Hey there, Bill Jones” to get the right person’s attention. The same in an advertisement, what you have will interest certain people only and for certain reasons. You care only for those people. Then create a headline, which will hail those people only.”

Being specific

“Platitudes and generalities roll off the human understanding like water from a duck. They leave no impression whatever. To say, “Best in the world”, “Lowest prices in existence,” etc., is at best simply claiming the expected. But superlatives of that sort are usually damaging. They suggest looseness of expression, a tendency to exaggerate a careless truth. They lead readers to discount all the statements that you make.”

Art in advertising

“The general rule applies. Do nothing to merely interest, amuse, or attract. That is not your province. Do only that which wins the people you are after in the cheapest possible way.”

Test campaigns

Almost any questions can be answered, cheaply, quickly and finally, by a test campaign. That is the way to answer them — not by arguments around a table. Go to the court of last resort — the buyer of your product.”

“There are many surprises in advertising. A project you will laugh at may make a great success. A project you are sure of may fall down. All because tastes differ so. None of us know enough people’s desires to get an average viewpoint.”

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