Please enjoy this excerpt from one of our interviews with Bob Bly, where he describes his favorite marketing books:
“People frequently ask me to recommend my five favorite marketing books,” Bob told us. “Here they are, in no particular order.”
1) How to Write a Good Advertisement by Vic Schwab
A common-sense course in how to write advertising copy that gets people to buy your product or service, written by a plain-speaking veteran mail order copywriter in 1960.
Best part: 100 “archetypal” headlines that people are still using in various forms today to create new controls (e.g., “When Doctors Feel Rotten, This is What They Do”).
2) My First 50 Years in Advertising by Max Sackheim
Another plain-speaking, common-sense guide that stresses salesmanship over creativity, and results over awards. The author was one of the originators of the Book of the Month Club.
Best part: The oversize format allows full-size reproductions (large enough for the copy to be legible) of many classic direct response ads (e.g., “They Thought I Was Crazy to Ship Live Maine Lobsters as Far as 1,800 Miles from the Ocean”).
3) Tested Advertising Methods, Fifth Edition by John Caples, revised by Fred Hahn
An updated version of John Caples’s classic book on the principles of persuasion as proven through A/B split tests.
Best part: The A/B split headline tests with the results (e.g., for an air conditioner, “How to have a cool, quiet bedroom – even on hot nights” pulled 2 1⁄2 times the response of “Get rid of that humidity with a new room cooler that also dries the air”).
4) Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins
A book on the philosophy that advertising’s purpose is to sell, not entertain or win creative awards – and how to apply this philosophy to create winning ads.
Best part: His observation that “specifics sell; superlatives roll off the human understanding like water off a duck’s back.”
5) Method Marketing by Denny Hatch
A book on how to write successful direct response copy by putting yourself in the customer’s shoes. Packed with case histories of modern direct response success stories, including Bill Bonner of Agora Publishing and Martin Edelston of Boardroom.
Best part: The introduction of the concept of method marketing, which states: “You cannot write copy without getting inside the head of the person to whom you are communicating and becoming that person.”
Have I left any out? Yes, many. But this list is a good start. Here’s to happy – and profitable – reading.