Scientific Advertising
  Claude Hopkins
    Chapter One:

How Advertising Laws are Established

     The time has come when advertising has in some hands reached 
the status of a science.  It is based on fixed principles and is 
reasonably exact.  The causes and effects have been analyzed until 
they are well understood.  The correct method of procedure have 
been proved and established.  We know what is most effective, and 
we act on basic law.
     Advertising, once a gamble, has thus become, under able 
direction, one of the safest business ventures.  Certainly no other 
enterprise with comparable possibilities need involve so little risk.
     Therefore this book deals, not with theories and opinions, but 
with well-proved principles and facts.  It is written as a text 
book for students and a safe guide for advertisers.  Every 
statement has been weighed.  The book is confined to establish  
fundamentals.  If we enter any realms of uncertainty we shall 
carefully denote them.
     The present status of advertising is due to many reasons.  
Much national advertising has long been handled by large 
organizations known as advertising agencies.  Some of these 
agencies, in their hundreds of campaigns, have tested and compared 
thousands of plans and ideas.  The results have been watched and 
recorded, so no lessons have been lost.
     Such agencies employ a high grade of talent.  None but able 
and experienced men can meet the requirements in national 
advertising.  Working in co-operation, learning from each other and 
from each new undertaking, some of these men develop into masters.
     Individuals may come and go, but they leave their records and 
ideas behind them.  These become a part of the organization's 
equipment, and a guide to all who follow.  Thus, in the course of 
decades, such agencies become storehouses of advertising 
experiences, proved principles, and methods.
     The larger agencies also come into intimate contact with 
experts in every department of business.  Their clients are usually 
dominating concerns.  So they see the results of countless methods 
and policies.  They become a clearing house for every thing 
pertaining to merchandising.  Nearly every selling question which 
arises in business is accurately answered by many experiences.
     Under these conditions, where they long exist, advertising and 
merchandising become exact sciences.  Every course is charted.  The 
compass of accurate knowledge directs the shortest, safest, 
cheapest course to any destination.
     We learn the principles and prove them by repeated tests.  
This is done through keyed advertising, by traced returns, largely 
by the use of coupons.  We compare one way with many others, 
backward and forward, and record the results.  When one method 
invariably proves best, that method becomes a fixed principle.

     Mail order advertising is traced down to the fraction of a 
penny.  The cost per reply and cost per dollar of sale show up with 
utter exactness.
     One ad in compared with another, one method with another.  
Headlines, settings, sizes, arguments and pictures are compared.  
To reduce the cost of results even one per cent means much in some 
mail order advertising.  So no guesswork is permitted
 One must know what is best.  Thus mail order advertising first 
established many of our basic laws.
     In lines where direct returns are impossible we compare one 
town with another.  Scores of methods may be compared in this way, 
measured by cost of sales.
     But the most common way is by use of the coupon.  We offer a 
sample, a book, a free package, or something to induce direct 
replies.  Thus we learn the amount of action which each ad engenders.
     But those figures are not final.  One ad may bring too many 
worthless replies, another replies that are valuable.  So our final 
conclusions are always based on cost per customer or cost per 
dollar of sale.
     These coupon plans are dealt with further in the chapter on 
"Test Campaigns."  Here we explain only how we employ them to 
discover advertising principles.
     In a large agency coupon returns are watched and recorded on 
hundreds of different lines.  In a single line they are sometimes 
recorded on thousands of separate ads.  Thus we test everything 
pertaining to advertising.  We answer nearly every possible 
question by multitudinous traced returns.
     Some things we learn in this way apply only to particular 
lines.  But even those supply basic principles for analogous 
     Others apply to all lines.  They become fundamentals for 
advertising in general.  They are universally applied.  No wise 
advertiser will ever depart from those unvarying laws.
     We propose in this book to deal with those fundamentals, those 
universal principles.  To teach only established techniques.  There 
is that technique in advertising, as in all art, science and 
mechanics.  And it is, as in all lines, a basic essential.
     The lack of those fundamentals has been the main trouble with 
advertising of the past.  Each worker was a law to himself.  All 
previous knowledge, all progress in the line, was a closed book to 
him.  It was like a man trying to build a modern locomotive 
without first ascertaining what others had done.  It was like a 
Columbus starting out to find an undiscovered land.
     Men were guided by whims and fancies - vagrant, changing 
breezes.  They rarely arrived at their port.  When they did - by 
accident - it was by a long roundabout course.
     Each early mariner in this sea mapped his own separate 
course.  There were no charts to guide him.  Not a lighthouse 
marked a harbor, not a bouy showed a reef.  The wrecks were 
unrecorded, so countless ventures came to grief on the same rocks
and shoals.
     Advertising was then a gamble -  a speculation of the rashest 
sort.  One man's guess on the proper course was as likely to be as 
good as another's.  There were no safe pilots, because few sailed 
the same course twice.
     The condition has been corrected.  Now the only uncertainties 
pertain to people and to products, not to methods.  It is hard to 
measure human idiosyncrasies, the preferences and prejudices, the 
likes and dislikes that exist.  We cannot say that an article will 
be popular, but we know how to sell it in the most effective way.
     Ventures may fail, but the failures are not disasters.  
Losses, when they occur, are but trifling.   And the causes are 
factors which has nothing to do with the advertising.
     Advertising has flourished under these new conditions.  It has 
multiplied in volume, in prestige and respect.  The perils have 
increased many fold.  Just because the gamble has become a science, 
the speculation a very conservative business.
     These facts should be recognized by all.  This is no proper 
field for sophistry or theory, or for any other will-o'-the-wisp.  
The blind leading the blind is ridiculous.  It is pitiful in a 
field with such vast possibilities.  Success is a rarity, a 
maximum success an impossibility, unless one is guided by laws as 
immutable as the law of gravitation.
     So our main purpose here is to set down those laws, and to 
tell  you how to prove them for yourself.  After them come a myriad 
variations.  No two advertising campaigns are ever conducted on 
lines that are identical.  Individuality is an essential.   
Imitation is a reproach.  But those variable things which depend on 
ingenuity have not place in a text book on advertising.  This is 
for groundwork only.
     Our hope is to foster advertising through a better 
understanding.  To place it on a business basis.  To have it 
recognized as among the safest, surest ventures which lead to large 
     Thousands of conspicuous successes show its possibilities.  
Their variety points out its almost unlimited scope.  Yet thousands 
who need it - who can never attain their deserts without it - still 
look upon its accomplishments as somewhat accidental .
     That was so, but it is not so now.  We hope that this book 
will throw some new lights on the subject.
Return to Book Intro and Chapter Index:  Scientific Advertising
Continue to next chapter: Advertising Salesmanship


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