On Tested Advertising Methods

I recently finished reading Tested Advertising Method (Fifth Edition) by John Caples, revised by Fred E. Hahn.

Below are excerpts from the book that summarize the key points presented by the authors:

1) “Caples’  Three-Step Approach To Creativity: 1) Capture the prospect’s attention. Nothing happens unless something in your mailing, or your commercial makes the prospect stop long enough to pay attention to what you say next. 2) Maintain the prospect’s interest. Keep the ad, mailing, or commercial focused on the prospect, on what he or she will get out of using your product or service. 3) Move the prospect to favorable action. Unless enough “prospects” are transformed into “customers,” your ad has failed, no matter how creative. That’s why you don’t stop with A/I/A (Attention, Interest/Action), but continue right on with testing.”

2) “Caples’ Three-Step Approach to Testing: 1) Accept nothing as true about what works best in advertising until it has been objectively – What Caples called “scientifically” – tested. 2) Build upon everything you learn from testing to create an ever-stronger system that you return to with each new project. 3) Treat every ad as an ongoing test of what has been learned before. When something new works better – or something old stops working – be ready to admit you were wrong about what you thought you “knew.” But don’t just accept it. Find out why and apply it the next time.”

3) “…There are four important qualities that a good headline may possess. They are: 1) Self-Interest 2) News 3) Curiosity 4) Quick, easy way”

4) “The most frequent reason for unsuccessful advertising is advertisers who are so full of their own accomplishments that they forger to tell us why we should buy.”

5) “Here are some of the things you should notice about the various Reader’s Digest openings: 1) They are fact-packed. 2) They are telegraphic. 3) They are specific. 4) They have few adjectives. 5) They arouse curiosity.”

6) “By its attention value it (drama) can make a small advertising appropriation do the work of a large appropriation.”

7) “Thomas E. Dewey: The advertising profession is an integral part of the life of a free nation. It has helped create markets where markets did not previously exist. It has not merely sold products which the public wanted. It has sold products which the public did not know it wanted. More important still, it has made possible the only free method for the large scale manufacture of goods on a mass basis.”

8) “Three well-known and often neglected aids to pulling power are: 1) Short paragraphs, 2) Short sentences, 3) Short words.”

9) “Advertising can never become completely accurate, however because of the human element involved – in advertising you are dealing with the minds and the emotions of human beings, and these will always be, to a certain extent, unstable and unmeasurable. That is why it is necessary to test, test, test – to test copy, media, position in publications, seasonal variation, and time of day in broadcast advertising.”

10) “Test everything. Doubt everything. Be interested in theories, but don’t spend a large sum of money on a theory without spending a little money to test it first.”

11) “Four important factors in every advertising campaign” 1) Copy – what you say in your advertisements. This includes the appeal used and the method of expressing that appeal. 2) Media – which magazines, newspapers, broadcasting facilities, or other media you select to carry your message to the public. 3) Position – what position your advertisements occupy in publications; which day of the week or what time of day you select for your broadcast messages. 4) Season – in which months of the year you run most of your advertising.”

12) “It (testing) enables you to keep your finger on the public pulse. It enables you to sense trends in advance. It enables you to separate the wheat from the chaff, the sheep from the goats, the winning ideas from the duds. It enables you to multiply the results you get from the dollars you spend in advertising.”


Omar Halabieh

Test Advertising Methods


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