Indeed, Robin…you’re about to read 6 diamond quotes about marketing from copywriting titans…and I think you’d better take notes.
These pioneers of direct marketing are responsible for the underlying strategies we see in most print and digital marketing today.
Heck, I’d go so far as to say most digital marketing strategies evolved from these pioneers decades ago…and technology has simply made those strategies more efficient.
Let’s take a closer look at what these titans had to say:
1. Gary Halbert
First off, let me say something about Gary Halbert: all the best copywriting strategies still used today were invented by Halbert. There was no end to his mastery of crafting legendary copy.
Now regarding his quote:
If you’re selling to the right list and offering a product or service people want—the life of your dreams is truly one sales letter away.
And if this quote doesn’t make you want to get up immediately, find a market and make something worth selling, then you’re probably not serious about creating wealth.
2. Eugene Schwartz
When I first read this quote, it felt like I had found the Treasure of Lima.
Was it possible that even I, a copywriter, could have misunderstood the truth about the copywriter’s task?
Yes it was possible. And yes…I had it all wrong.
Until I read the marketing classic Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene Schwartz, I was under the misguided belief that my job as a copywriter was to create the desire for a product…to well-up desire within a market to run out and buy a new product that was vital to their livelihood because I had convinced them it was…
Not true…and very naive of me to think I could even possess that power.
The truth is more nuanced than that.
You see, desire doesn’t originate externally and then get downloaded into your prospect’s mind. Desire is something that already lives in the mind of your prospect.
It’s been there for years…growing out of personal experience, preference, the modeling of family members…out of their deep biological impulses.
And with that truth, Schwartz in his wisdom understood an essential function of good copywriting: to channel that inherent desire and direct it towards whatever you’re selling.
You really can’t convince people to desire your product. Instead, you have to meet them at the desire already living in their mind, spend time connecting with that desire, then show them you’ve created something to fulfill (or intensify) it.
Do that, and you’ll be ahead of most companies still trying to convince their prospects to desire widgets from scratch.
3. John Caples
John Caples published his legendary work Tested Advertising Methods way back in 1932. Yet this quote is just as relevant today as it was more than 80 years ago…and here’s why:
People are still interested in themselves.
We don’t like to admit it, but we’re all inclined to look out for ourselves first and foremost.
With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at 3 important truths Caples addressed in his quote…to recalibrate your thoughts before you write ad copy:
- Many people will come across your ad by accident.
While thumb-scrolling through their News Feeds, there’s one thing people aren’t looking for—your ads.
In fact, they recoil from them.
Give people an irrelevant ad and they might flag you as spam.
Caples provides us with a striking reminder: most people are viewing your ads by accident. So take that into account before pouring money into a potentially disruptive ad.
- Most people have more important things to do than read your ad.
Watching a man tumble down a makeshift water slide…or another dude swing on a tree branch, only to uproot the whole tree and get clobbered by it…
This is what people really care about on Facebook—fun stuff.
So when your ad pops up, Caples reminds us that people have more important things to do…and they’re more likely just to scroll passed your ad.
I have a confession to make—I ignore most ads. Unless…the ad is interesting and easy to understand in less than 3 seconds…in which case I’ll be drawn into the ad almost involuntarily…which brings up the next point…
- No one will take the time to decipher an unclear message.
If I came across your ad by accident and had other important things to do, I definitely wouldn’t spend more than 3 seconds decoding an unclear message.
As a writer, I might give you a few more seconds to say what you’re trying to say…but that’s because I usually stop dead in my tracks when faced with an unclear piece of copy…and the confusion stops me from continuing my life until I’ve deciphered it.
But I guarantee you most people aren’t doing that.
If you make them work at all to get your message…NOPE. They’re already gone.
4. Claude Hopkins
Claude Hopkins was a true marketing innovator…considered by some to be the first real social media marketer.
And with this quote, one thing is apparent: Hopkins understood the impact of connecting to individuals rather than shouting to a massive crowd like a fool. This is relevant for anyone trying to generate meaningful conversions through Facebook ads.
So why do some advertisers feel the need to write differently than normal speech when writing ads? It’s like a false prerequisite to copywriting or something…and usually leads to “foolish crowd-shouting.”
In truth, good ad copy sounds conversational…like you’re talking to a single person…even a friend.
It’s that simple. No need to make it complicated. No need to raise your voice by using ALL CAPS or bold or italics in every other sentence. These formatting tactics are meant for rare emphasis when it’s relevant.
In fact, try saying this sentence out loud and listen to how ridiculous it sounds coming out of your mouth:
“With the SLS 5000, you’ll get amazing toast in less than 5 MINUTES. That’s right folks: 5 MINUTES. Toast so good you’ll eat it without butter, without jelly, and without honey. You’ll enjoy your crunchy new toast absolutely plain.”
Does it sound like an infomercial? You bet it does.
It feels like someone is talking at you. Not to you.
So if we took Hopkins’ advice, how would this copy sound written in a conversational tone? Let’s find out:
“I just bought this new toaster yesterday, but I have to warn you—if you want to keep eating a low-carb diet, don’t get near this thing! It sounds crazy…it’s just toast, right? But once your kitchen fills with the aroma of fresh, warm bread in the morning…you’re gonna start stockpiling sourdough…”
Still an ad. But it gets “down to individuals.”
5. Robert Collier
Robert Collier was a quote generator, especially when it came to believing in yourself. Many of his quotes are easy to understand and quick to take in.
And the quote above is just as easy…but at the same time, it’s not.
The way I look at it, you want your readers to act after reading your ads—go over to your sales page, click buy and convert.
But are those the only effects you want to produce in your reader? Not really…
What do I mean by that? Well for someone to get motivated to follow your call to action, you’ll need to affect their emotions somehow.
Persuasion by facts alone is hard to achieve…
And findings from neuroscience help us understand why. The conclusion of one study suggests almost all of our logical decisions are based on emotion. Other researchers argue that the basis of motivation is emotion, with logic being secondary.
Aside from these findings, I’m sure you’ll agree with this one idea based on your own personal experience: you can’t get people to purchase from you without getting them emotionally involved in what you’re selling.
When was the last time you bought something based on a list of facts alone?
I bet never. And if you think you may have, consider what drove you to search for that product in the first place.
So if you can agree decisions are rooted in emotion, how important is it to include your intended emotion in your marketing strategy? Critically. Important.
Remember the Schwartz-ism from earlier: desire isn’t created, it’s channeled. And to channel desire, you first have to decide which desire you want to target. Once you’ve done that, then you can direct that desire towards your call to action.
So what effect are you trying to produce in your reader? Below are some effects you may want to produce in your reader through your ad copy:
All of these human needs (there are plenty more) can be detailed in your ad copy using specific words and phrases discovered through market research.
Want your reader to feel inspired?
Say something that promises freedom and autonomy once she’s reached her dream…something that will boost her spirit when she’s feeling down after struggling for months to get her business off the ground.
Want your reader to trust what you’re saying?
Use lots of proof to back up your claims. Give him references to research studies, influencer quotes, and your own customer testimonials. You can (and should) always back up your claims with hard evidence to prove you care about providing valid information…which naturally builds trust.
Whatever effect you want to produce in your reader, make sure you know what it is ahead of time…and develop a plan to target the effect in your ad copy.
6. David Ogilvy
Warning: don’t lie to Ogilvy’s wife. In fact—don’t lie to anyone’s wife.
What’s the message behind this Ogilvy quote?
Making false claims can turn into a legal headache. But even if your distorted claims slip passed the FTC radar for awhile, your readers will lose trust in you long before that.
Most people know when you’re making a false claim anyway. You can’t fool anyone. Consumers are smarter now than ever before, with the vast majority of consumers doing serious research before making a purchase.
So it’s a better long-term strategy to make claims you can support with hard evidence.
Now if your product does something that’s actually unbelievable, then go ahead and make those claims…because they’re rooted in truth. Just be prepared to back them up.
Besides, it takes more effort to legitimize false claims than it does to enhance factual claims anyway.
These 6 quotes about marketing should inspire you to go out and revise all your ad copy. I know, that’s not realistic…but now that your eyes are sharpened, use these quotes to fine-tune your next marketing campaign.
By the way, if you’ve never heard of these marketing and copywriting legends, I’d seriously advise you to go out and learn from them…immediately.
Your ad copy will thank you.