The essentials you have to know straight from historical copywriters

Copywriting might seem as a modern, new age job, but it actually exists around 150 years. Of course, back then you couldn’t be an online copywriter, CEO expert or writer of any digital content, but power of the words was taken seriously even at that time.

As it is today, copywriting experts existed even 150 years ago. And get ready because you’re about to get wisdom from old-school copywriting experts? Okay, you can’t hear because they are no longer alive, but you can read. Let’s start with 3 books still relevant today:

#1 How to Write a Good Advertisement: A Short Course in Copywriting Paperback (1962) – Victor O. Schwab

The book How to Write a Good Advertisement: A Short Course in Copywriting Paperback is an excellent way to learn how to create amazing copy for your business. Author created this book as a short course and it has 14 chapters with theory and examples. You can learn 5 crucial steps for getting attention, how important are headlines, how to choose the perfect length for your copy and other substantial information.

Knowing the content of this book will surely take your advertising skills to a higher level. Don’t worry, it’s not all new – most of it is already familiar to you, since today’s advertising is built on this.

#2 Confessions of an Advertising Man (1963) – David Ogilvy

David Ogilvy or “the father of advertising” is a legend in the world of business who created some of the most famous marketing campaigns. You might think “Why do I, as a copywriter, care?” Because this knowledge goes deep and intertwines with content marketing and even to some extent with copywriting.

This book can help you, because the book will give you the answers on how to get and retain clients, how to write potent copy etc. Besides that, Ogilvy always said how important are quality headlines, creativity and standing out with your quality and innovative content. Don’t miss out on this.

#3 Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life (1994) – Anne Lamott

Lovely book title and lovely book – inspiring but still useful. If you’ve ever been stuck with writing process, this book is a “must” for you, it will clear out any doubts that you might have and convince you to go push forward. Beautiful part of this book is a personal story the author is sharing with readers, so you won’t even realise that you’re learning something about writing – you’ll think that you’re reading a novel.

The book has 5 chapters, mostly about writing. It might not be the perfect learning asset for copywriters, but trust me – you won’t regret reading it.

 

Besides these books, there are 2 quotes you’ll surely want to remember from 2 historical copywriters:

“Good advertising is written always from one person to another” – Fairfax M. Cone

This author is also called the “father of modern advertising” and he taught us an important lesson – write only to one person. If you want to be good as a copywriter, you should realise WHO your perfect reader is. In order to do that, you should analyze that imaginary person, how old he/she is, where he/she is from, what his/her job is and other things. Only after you analized everything about your ideal reader, you can write a good copy.

The point is to write honestly, without being all cute and catchy. Write to somebody who will understand it, and you’ll succeed. If you write it for “mass mind”, you’re actually writing for no one. There are only individuals, a crowd means nothing. So, identify your ideal reader and help her/him.

Always create “the reason why copy” – Albert Lasker

According to this, you should always give the answer to three “reason why” questions:

  1. Why are you better from your competition?
  2. Why should your customers believe you?
  3. Why would they buy your product?

It means that you should convince your readers why you are the best. And by convincing, I mean give them the “reasons why”. So, in order to create a great and selling copy, you should give your audience the reasons for trusting you. Lasker relied on emotional aspects because he realised that people are more emotional than rational. So, give them the reason why and appeal to emotions.

Katarina likes to write useful and interesting stories for Opinodo and our brands. She’s a journalist by vocation and deeply interested in marketing and public relations, studying MSc in Marketing and PR. On Opinodo blog, she shares different insights, tips and tricks for website monetization through our platform.

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