‘Making a sale without making a convert doesn’t amount to much.’
Claude C Hopkins, Scientific Advertising
At just 92 short pages and fewer than 10,000 words this may be one of the shortest classics you’ll ever read. Yet the great David Ogilvy says of Scientific Advertising, ‘Nobody should be allowed to have anything to do with advertising until he has read this book seven times. It changed the course of my life.’
Wow! That should make us think, should it not? Yet most fundraisers, I’m sure, are unlikely to have read it even once.
Scientific Advertising was first published in 1923, when Hopkins was already 57 years old. As with John Caples’ equally game-changing and priceless work Tested Advertising Methods the writing here is often arcane, the context very American, apparently dated and of dubious relevance. Hopkins can seem to be describing a different world at a different time. Yet the heart of this book is timeless and its messages – or at least, many of them – are as relevant today as they ever were. If you wish to communicate effectively you ignore this seminal book at your peril.