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36 “My Life in Advertising” Ideas to Live By

Normally, I spend my days knee deep into “what’s working now.”

But occasionally reviewing the classics has always been rewarding for me. It never fails that I get an idea or two or three I can use on a project.

Today, I want to share the Cliff notes for Claude Hopkins’ My Life in Advertising.

I know several world class marketers who re-read the book every year. (At least they say they do!)


1. All advertising proves that people will do little to prevent troubles.

They do not cross bridges in advance. However, they will do anything to cure troubles which exist.

2. Superlative claims do not make a difference. To say that something is “The best in the world” makes no impression whatever.

Offer specifics–figures, facts, data.

3. Saying that a halogen lamp gives more light than other lamps is weak copy. Saying that it gives 3.5X the light of incandescent lamps is far superior.

4. Every ad should tell a complete story. It should include every fact and argument found to be valuable. Why? Most people read a story just once, as they do the news. There is no reason why they should read it again. So we need to get in that one reading every convincing fact.

5. Every effort to sell creates corresponding resistance. (It’s our job as copywriters and marketers to overcome this resistance. How? Quality content.)

6. The only way to sell is in some way to seem to offer superior service.

7. People follow the crowds. It is hard for them in most things to analyze reasons and worth, so they accept the verdict of the majority.

8. Boasting is the last thing people want to hear.

9. The “free” offer cheapens a product.

10. There is a certain resistance when we ask people to afterward pay for a product which came to them first as a gift.

11. It doesn’t pay to give either a sample or a full-size package to people who do not request it.

12. Products handed out without asking lose respect. (Take note U2)

13. We all of us love to study people and their accomplishments.

14. Stop offering samples to prospects who are uninterested.

15. Offer samples only to prospects who take some action to acquire them.

16. Remember that you are the seller. You are trying to win customers. Then make a trial easy to the people whom you interest. Don’t ask them to pay for your efforts to sell them. (Although I love a self-liquidating offer.)

17. Remove all restrictions and say, “We trust you,” and human nature likes to justify that trust.

18. Serve better than others, offer more than others, and you are pretty much sure to win.

19. Ask a person to take a chance on you, and you have a fight. Offer to take a chance on him, and the way is easy.

20. Analyze your offer until you’ve made sure that your customer had the best end of the bargain.

21. Argue anything for your own advantage, and people will resist. Seem to unselfishly consider your customers’ desires, and they will naturally flock to your offer.

22. Curiosity is a strong factor in human nature, and especially with women. Describe a gift, and some will decide that they want it, more will decide that they don’t.

23. People are crying out for new ways to make money. Discover those ways, find out how to promote them, and you will have offered ten times the work one man can ever do.

24. People like to deal with men whose names are connected with certain accomplishments.

25. Platitudes and generalities make no more of an impression than water on a duck’s back.

26. We rarely decide for ourselves, because we don’t know the facts. But when we see the crowds taking any certain direction, we are much inclined to go with them.

27. When we make an offer one cannot reasonably refuse, it is pretty sure to gain acceptance.

28. No other activating factor compares with curiosity. (Can you say “clickbait?” Claude knew this decades ago.)

29. We are influenced by our surroundings.

30. The road to success lies through ordinary people.

31. We do best what we like best.

32. A good product is its own best salesman.

33. Selling without samples is many times as hard as with them.

34. Get the leading men first. They will bring in the others. (I call this the big dog strategy.)

35. The man who works twice as long as his fellows is bound to go twice as far, especially in advertising.

36. My words will be simple, my sentences short. Scholars may ridicule my style.

Nihil Obstat (“Nothing stands in your way”),


P.S. Here’s the PDF if you’re curious:

Enjoy and good luck in your marketing and copywriting efforts.

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