Chapter 1 – How Advertising Laws Are Established
This chapter sets the stage for the book as Hopkins establishes a paradigm shift from advertising being a gamble – or guess work, and stating and proving that it can be and should looked at as a science because of the ability to test and track advertisements.
Even though he mentions the use of coupons as the main source of tracking ads – what he calls keyed returns – meaning that they record every returned coupon which is coded so that they can measure the success of each advertisement.
Hopkins intent for this book was to basically “sell” the practice of seeing marketing as a science and not art and not guesswork – proving these methods with his own first hand experience. Unfortunately, a century later many companies, including funeral homes opt for the easier, yet less effective, brand and image advertising which brings no measurable results.
Chapter 2 – Just Salesmanship
In this chapter, he wants you to look at your advertising as it is an expansion of your sales team.
In this paragraph:
“The only purpose of advertising is to make sales. It is profitable or unprofitable according to its actual sales. It is not for general effect. It is not to keep your name before the people. It is not primarily to aid your other salesmen. Treat it as a salesman. Force it to justify itself. Compare it with other salesmen. Figure its cost and result. Accept no excuses which good salesmen do not make. Then you will not go far wrong.” and the paragraph end with this statement, “Therefore every ad should be a super salesmen.”
Your ROI – return on investment – should be applied to your advertising as it should to having a team of salespeople. This philosophy of holding all of your sales and marketing efforts accountable will be explored at a deeper level in later chapters in the creation of your ads – justifying every element of the ad.
Hopkins stresses the idea that clever slogans, cute sayings and ads that make people try to “get-it” are a waste of time and more importantly money. Ads need to be simple and not some great literary work.
Others say “Be Brief” but this is the wrong type of simple – you wouldn’t think of a live salesperson standing in front of a prospect, being limited to just a few words, so same with your ads – they should be as long as necessary to make the sale – tell the complete story.
A few final points about this chapter:
Ads should not be written to the masses – they should be written to one person, because that is how the message is received
Ads are not meant to entertain – the are meant to inform and lead the prospect to a desired action – their sole purpose is to make a sale
Ads should be written for the buyer – not to please the seller – this is one of the biggest problems that advertisers make – and I must add that it’s the biggest one that many funeral homes make
So how does this apply to funeral service?
Hopkins stresses that this chapter is the most important chapter in the book.
Chapter 3 – Offer Service
At first you may think that this chapter doesn’t apply to funeral homes but it does parallel with what we do.
First he starts out by warning not to shout out: Buy my stuff – which to us means “Choose my funeral home.”
Instead he says to offer wanted information and that information should be supported with advantages for the prospects.
So how does this apply to funeral service? Well, unless people want a cremation only service, they are going to have some form of service.
So offer something useful – and not a planning guide, but offer a free in-person planning session – not about the business side of it, but about creating the meaningful service.
Funeral homes are worried about getting the signed contract – give them what they want first – the meaningful service, and if you are good at that, and I know you are – the signed contract will fall into place right after.
Don’t worry, not everyone is going to want the free planning session – but is shows that you are willing to give them information that they want – and it’s not just prices that they want.
Chapter 4 – Mail Order Advertising – What It Teaches
This chapter is great because it can change how you think about all of your advertising and especially about your direct mail. The subject is Mail Order – both words are equally important – Mail because it is the marketing channel that is used and Order because that is the goal – and the only goal. It is not called Mail Branding or Mail Image Building or in the preneed realm, Mail Surveys To Trick Them Into Preneed Leads.
Mail order is pure Direct Response advertising and albeit that we probably wouldn’t attempt a pure Mail Order campaign to get people to prepay for their funerals – although it could probably work for “Cremation Only” or “Low Cost” providers with the perfect ad of course – there are no better lessons for what makes ads work and Mail Order, because if there is no sale, its a failure – no higher pressure is ever applied than that of a mail order ad – so listen carefully and learn the principles in this chapter.
The quote of John Wanamaker – Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half. – is blown out of the water when talking about Scientific Advertising and Mail Order as those Ad Men and Women know exactly what works and what doesn’t and you should have that same attitude when it comes to your marketing.
Every marketer should be held to this Hopkins quote about Mail Order Marketers: “Here he is taught efficiency and economy under a master who can’t be fooled.”
He really starts diving into the importance of testing, and how repeated testing can really drive down your costs by continually making your advertising more effective. Hopkins gets you to think about every part of your ad. So for instance, in a typical funeral home ad with a picture – or worse a line drawing – of the funeral home building – Hopkins would challenge you to only use the picture if you couldn’t use the same footprint with words to convey more of your story or offer. So if that picture isn’t actually worth 1,000 words, then use the words.
Plus he lets you know that white space doesn’t sell anything and that the more you tell, the more you sell. One last piece of sage advice that Hopkins leaves with you in this chapter is that once you get an ad that works – keep using it – don’t get bored and say “Let’s change things up” – since you have an ad that is working, the only changes would be to improve it, and since you are tracking those ads, you will now know if those improvements worked or not. And your goal will be to become like Mr. Mead from the cycle company that Hopkins says that Mead wouldn’t take $10,000 – which was a lot of money in 1915 – he wouldn’t take $10,000 to change one word in his ads.
I could go on, but I would urge you to really pay attention to this chapter – it will change the way that you look at your ads.