Advertising is Salesmanship

Advertising is salesmanship by Claude Hopkins 

Wisdom from 1923 applied in 2020 

There are two different camps in advertising…

The first believes that advertising and copywriting should only sell the product.

The second group believes in creativity and making ads which are fun and entertaining.

Claude Hopkins fell into the former. I do, too.

Generating sales or leads is the ultimate goal of marketing and advertising, so you want to target those that’d be interested in buying.

The people you entertain aren’t the ones you want to target because they’ll flip the page, change the channel, or click off your website as soon as their laugh is over.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t mix in characters, humour, and stories into advertising, but it needs to focus on why the product is so amazing mostly.

How can you do this? One of the most effective ways is to elaborate on the benefits of a product.

It’s so common for advertisers to only talk about the features of a product—a big mistake.

These aren’t the reason why a customer is purchasing a product. Instead, they are interested in the experiences and emotions it will give them.

Take this advertisement for Van Camp’s milk which Hopkins created, for example:

Customers seek service for themselves

Let me ask you this.

The last time you walked into a physical retail store, did you think to yourself “Oh boy, I can’t wait to learn about this company’s history and story!”?


You probably were looking for coupons, sales, promotions, and might’ve asked an employee where the good stuff is.

That’s because customers are selfish but not in a wrong way. They’re exchanging their hard-earned money for goods and want the best deal and service.

Claude Hopkins believed in aligning ads with the self-interests of customers.

It connects with the previous strategy of elaborating on benefits because you need to position an ad and its elements to entertain the customer’s deeper desires.

Are they trying to make more money?

Are they trying to lose weight?

Do they want to have a particular image to other people? Talk about those things.

It will resonate with them on a deep level, bring out emotions, and make them feel like they finally found what they’ve been seeking.

Check out this ad by Mercedes Benz for their C-Class model

The headline “Crafted for the superior Class.” implies that is made for successful and wealthy people, thus owning one creates that image.


To Be Continued


Big Thanks to Carmine Mastropierro