Worthy of the Work

Not all non-fiction can be described as infotainment; and although How to Write A Good Advertisement may not have many fun-filled anecdotal stories, it’s packed with information about advertising. To be upfront, this wasn’t the easiest book to read; in fact, it’s more like a workbook. But, Victor Schwab, the author, provides his reader with an ample amount of examples to illustrate his arguments and make clear the lessons he seeks to impart.

Victor Schwab has been hailed as “the greatest mail-order copywriter of all time”. His forty-four years of experience in the advertising world speaks volumes about the knowledge that this book contains. Every chapter is packed with the details and research Schwab discovered over his lifetime. The amount of material covered by Schwab makes this book seem much larger than its 224 pages give it credit for.

Our author begins his book outlining the five keys to a successful (read: money-making) advertisement:

  • Get Attention
  • Show an Advantage
  • Prove It
  • Persuade People to Grasp the Advantage
  • Ask for Action

In the first chapter, Schwab reveals how important your headline is in getting attention. Through examples and history, he teaches his reader what makes a good headline good, and what makes a bad headline boring. He stresses that without an eye-catching, interesting headline your potential buyer becomes a certain passerby.

After our author has provided the first step, he guides us in how to show your prospect an advantage; noting that this advantage should appeal to the potential buyer’s emotions and their desires. He tells the reader to imagine themselves on the “other side of the counter” and to think about what their product will do for the prospect not what the advertisement will do for the product.

Schwab tells his audience that a quality advertisement proves that it will provide those advantages. This step is about using logic to sell your product; it is the rationality that justifies the emotional appeal. He urges his pupils to dramatize the facts, present those facts from the buyer’s point of view, and – most importantly – be specific.

In the next step, Schwab teaches us how to weave the claims of benefits, and the facts that prove them into convincing copy that persuades the prospect to grasp those advantages. He tells us to illustrate the product in action. This key is the preparation for the final step – asking for the sale.

In the fifth chapter, our author tells us that if we really want something, we must ask for it – including the sale. With tremendous conviction, our author explains how the most powerful and persuading advertisements can be painfully unsuccessful because they fail in this final step

After defining the five keys, the book continues with other insightful education about how long, how large and where an advertisement should be, how to get more inquiries about the advertised products, and what kind of attitude it takes to be a great copywriter and write truly fine copy.

And although, this book may be a bit drier than the first book of our series, Schwab provides short quizzes at the end of each chapter so his reader will stay engaged and stay learning. I can honestly say that it was so overflowing with information that I’ll have to give How to Write A Good Advertisement a second read. If you’re in marketing, advertising, or copywriting, you owe it to yourself to pick up this book if only for the reminder of the little details you may have forgotten.

Thanks for reading my second report. The advertising and marketing theme continues in the following week with Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins. Now, get off the internet and go read a book or something.

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