Advertising smarts: something old and something new

Tyee, 1909 drawing

Ad old book is better than a new one, sometimes.

There’s a saying in the Bible, “An old friend is better than a new one.”

When I look for a book on advertising, it has to be something either very old, or very new. If it’s old, I want something by an advertising pioneer, such as Claude Hopkins, who was one of the pioneers of the modern principles in selling by ads.

If the book is new, it has to have a publication date of the current year, or two years ago at most. These are the books that plunge the depth with the tech details of Google Adwords or Facebook ads, for example. Of course, once a book is in print on these topics, it’s outdated, since these companies are always tweaking and changing things. But if the book is well written, you get the essentials that don’t change.

Faded tome

When I get a chance to go to the public library downtown, I keep an eye open for that faded, cloth-covered tome squeezed between the “Dummy” books of today. These are books with the gems that zero your mind in on the essentials. Electronic media may change, but like learning basketball, you gotta learn the fundamentals.

A recent book that I’ve been enjoying is How Advertising is Written, and Why, by Aesop Glim (buy on Amazon.com). For years, Glim (a pen name) wrote practical, plainly-written articles for the oldĀ Printer’s Ink magazine. He was read not only by novices in the profession, but by veterans of many years. Among the points he makes is that you have to do research on your product, and to know your market audience. Find out all kinds of details of how the product is made, and the purpose of its manufacture. Then find out from your target audience what they are looking for. You bring them together, and that’s the art of copywriting.

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