Advertising – selling in print – Hopkins (part 2)

That is so in personal salesmanship as in salesmanship-in-print. Fine talkers are rarely good salesman. They inspire buyers with the fear of over-influence. They create the suspicion that an effort is made to sell them on other lines than merit.

Successful salesman are rarely good speech makers. They have few oratorical graces. They are plain and sincere men who know their customers and know their lines. So it is in ad-writing.

Many of the ablest men in advertising are graduate salesmen. The best we know have been house-to-house canvassers. They may know little of grammar, nothing of rhetoric, but they know how to use words that convince.

There is one simple way to answer many advertising questions. Ask yourself, “Would it help a salesman sell the goods?” “Would it help me sell them if I met a buyer in person?”

A fair answer to those questions avoids the countless mistakes. But when one tries to show off, or does things merely to please himself, he is little likely to strike a chord which leads people to spend money.

Some argue for slogans, some like clever conceits. Would you use them in personal salesmanship? Can you imagine a customer whom such things would impress? If not, don’t rely on them for selling in print.

Some say “Be very brief. People will read for little.” Would you say that to a salesman? With a prospect standing before him, would you confine him to any certain number of words? That would be an unthinkable handicap.

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