Text transcript (literal):
Hello, this is Olivier Roland. I’m about to tell you how to double, triple or even quadruple your sales and keep them at that level, with scientific advertising.
This process has been around for more than a century and has been used by the most successful entrepreneurs and marketeers in the world.
To help you understand, I will share a story with you.
It was in New York in 1938. A young British salesman had just arrived in the United States. He was eager, ambitious and keen to learn the business of advertising, in order to create his own agency.
He met a man named Rosser Reeves; a pioneer in advertising who later became a bit of a legend within that world; with his invention of the unique selling point, that all businesses use today.
For example, it was Reeves who masterminded the creation of the famous M&M’s “Melts in your mouth, not in your hand” and who created an ad for Eisenhower for the 1952 election.
He took sympathy on the young man, he let him borrow an old book that was in his safe. The title of this book was “Scientific Advertising”. It was “Scientific Advertising” by Claude Hopkins.
As he read it, the young man, named Ogilvy, felt like a Judean shepherd who had uncovered the holy ark of the covenant, for Hopkins, who earned his agency an absolute fortune and who paid him an annual salary that was equivalent to $4 million today, wrote about the principles of effective advertising founded on proven facts.
Scientific Advertising, written in 1923, lay hidden in a safe for two decades. The director of his agency considered it too valuable to be published.
Ogilvy was fortunate enough to be able to read it five years before it was published and made available to the general public, and he made good use of it.
It helped him become one of the most influential figures in 20th century advertising, to the point where The Times named him the most sought-after creative in the advertising industry in 1962. A few years after that, he was given the nickname “The Father of Advertising”.
Ogilvy was so conscious of the power of scientific advertising that he called it his secret weapon. And just as Warren Buffett was surprised in 1984 that the investment method by which he amassed his fortune was not more widely known, he continued to be surprised that even by 1986 it was still very sparsely used by other people.
When he gave a speech to a group of industry experts, he said, “For 40 years, I was a voice that cried out in the wilderness to try to convince my advertising colleagues to take this method seriously.”
What is this method that is so effective? What is scientific advertising?
Scientific advertising is how you accurately measure what actually sells a product featured in an ad.
Does this hold true for all aspects of advertising?
No, there are a lot of advertisers who are not concerned with the process to directly measure the impact of sales on the ads.
Instead, they’re more concerned with whether people know their brand when they are asked what the top 5 brands are that they think of within that sector, does their brand name come to mind? This is called branding.
The basis of scientific advertising is to sell and to measure precisely what works and what doesn’t.
How did Hopkins measure the performance of his ads in the early 20th century long before computers, the Internet and modern metric technology existed?
He used two things: firstly, response coupons and, secondly, direct mail. This enabled him to effectively measure which advertisements had the most impact.
Imagine an ad in a magazine to sell a product. How do you actually measure the effectiveness of an ad on the sales numbers of that product?
It’s very simple. You include a reply coupon within the advertisement that can be sent back, postage-free; to your company to receive brochures, or better yet, a sample of the product. You put a product reference in small letters in the coupon. And for each different ad, you include a different reference.
This way, you can immediately see which adverts are the most effective.
If you have ad A in 5000 copies, from which you get sent 50 coupons and ad B in another 5000 copies from which you receive 80, you know which ad performs better.
And if there’s only one difference between the two ads, for example, only the header, then you know that it’s the header that makes the difference in impact and performance.
You can do a second test, if you keep the header the same and change something else in the ad. For instance, use one photo over another or one picture rather than no picture at all.
Hopkins used this method to launch the Pepsodent brand of toothpaste in 1911, a brand that still exists today.
The success he achieved to spread the name of the brand was so great that Pulitzer Prize winner, Charles Duhigg, the journalist, credits him with the achievement to have convinced Americans to start to brush their teeth regularly, which wasn’t something they had really done before. However, it was not an easy feat.
In advertising, it is well known that it is difficult to “teach” a market to do something preventive. It is much easier to sell a cure for an immediate problem than it is to prevent the problem before it develops.
Hopkins was aware that the problem he faced was a difficult one. So, his ploy was to test his hypotheses with slightly different versions of the ads.
Even with his 15 years of experience in the business, he still made a lot of mistakes in terms of what would appeal to prospective customers and, more importantly, what would get them to actually buy Pepsodent and adopt a new habit: to start to brush their teeth.
Hopkins recounts this in his autobiography. He says, “It took me a long time to learn what worked with Pepsodent. I wasted some money. But I always immediately knew, from my response coupons, what the responses were to each and every ad I made.
Within a week I would learn from my mistakes. I never spent much money on a bad idea. I would quickly discover what was right and what was wrong. ”
This was the fundamental difference Hopkins had over all his competitors.
He explains in his autobiography that he was up against more than 300 other companies in an attempt to build up the fact that if people brushed their teeth, it would be a good, healthy and beneficial routine, and that they would all advertise and market their own brand of toothpaste.
But Hopkins had a unique advantage with this method: he knew specifically what did and didn’t work.
And the brilliant thing is that he initiated all of these tests within small markets, in a single town, he simply put ads in the newspapers. And when he found what worked and what sold Pepsodent toothpaste, he immediately tried out his ads in other locations. He said that this also worked.
Because of this method and how he approached it, within a year, Pepsodent was sold all over the United States and within four years, worldwide. And that was only because of what Hopkins calls “relentless testing”.
In his book, he concluded: “What can we learn from this?
The point is that none of us can afford to rely only on our own judgment or experience. We must test our projects as accurately as possible, learn from our mistakes and correct them.”
This sentence has something very relevant within it because it’s always said: as an entrepreneur, we have to learn from our mistakes. But, in order to learn from our mistakes, we have to be aware of them. Something that many entrepreneurs fail to appreciate. They start off with certain assumptions but they never test them out.
Hopkins had this scientific approach to always test and learn; despite his years of experience, to see what would work and what wouldn’t. He was conscious of his mistakes and more conscious still to correct them, which none of his competitors did.
These are the foundations of scientific advertising. And it really is something we can all learn from.
In fact, in his book “Scientific Advertising”, which was written in 1923, at the start of the book he actually says: “The days of unscientific advertising are over”. Today we know what works and what doesn’t and there are techniques to measure what doesn’t work. And yet, almost a century later, we are in the same position.
Scientific advertising was seen by Ogilvy as a secret weapon that his competitors never used; while he preached into the void for them to adopt it. That’ s still the situation today.
As Warren Buffet said in 1984, there is a perverse human propensity to make simple things complicated; and sometimes there are approaches that are incredibly effective that are not used by the general public. We don’t really know why.
This is what I want to share with you.
In this day and age, if you don’t assess the return on investment from the various types of campaigns that you carry out, then you have a real problem.
Added to which, in comparison to Hopkins, who had to have a team of people to log and sort out all of the coupons and perform all the calculations by hand, today there are extraordinary tools available to do the calculations for us.
There’ s Google Analytics, which gives you such insightful data on the behaviour of people who visit your sites, and there’ s software like Visual Website Optimizer or Optimizely, which are designed specifically to do the sorts of tests, that I mentioned above, in what are called split tests. You can even do tests on blog posts.
With Visual Website Optimizer, you can choose to test two different headlines and see which one leads to the greatest number of click-throughs. There are so many things you can test nowadays.
This is the basis of not only scientific advertising, but scientific business: test your ideas, evaluate and improve.
Entrepreneurs who take this approach to their business; which is probably the most important aspect of it for them, are few and far between.
There are literally hundreds of tools available these days that allow you to do what is called split testing or A/B testing. Integrate this into your business, and you will be able to gain an incredible advantage over all your competitors.
To learn more about this, you can read my book “Live the life of your dreams with your blog”. I talk about some tools that allow you to do this, such as AWeber, which is an autoresponder; that enables you to test the subject heading within your emails to see which ones resonate the most.
Buy “Scientific Advertising” by Claude C Hopkins on Amazon.