Since Don Draper’s advertising period, many things have changed, not the least of which is the ways we utilize to reach our target audiences. As for human behavior and copywriting that aims to affect it, the fundamentals haven’t changed much.
If you don’t put David Ogilvy or Gary Halbert in your list of business books, the ghosts from gurus past, present, and future arrive and begin arguing about who has read The Boron Letters the most times, according to folklore. As a real guy copywriter, I’m not willing to take that risk, so here are the old school classics I’m legally required to provide.
Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy
The name David Ogilvy will make you sound knowledgeable in a client meeting, cigar lounge, Facebook live roundtable, or multi-level marketing sales party. As far as shady get-rich-quick schemes go, there is no greater name than that of The Father of Advertising to market them. This is for a good purpose. His stuff was up to snuff. He developed an agency empire unlike any other in the world’s history. As a bonus, he’s wearing a smart suit, an elegant lung cancer accessory, and neatly styled hair on the cover. To write advertising that sells, Ogilvy goes over everything from market research to positioning to how to write text that grabs a reader’s attention and keeps them reading to the very end. It’s packed with useful advice and inspiring examples. Read it now.
Many of the commercials in the book have been tried and tested and found to be effective, but there are also many that are not. If you’re looking for a 200-page ad swiping file, this is it! If you’re interested in a career in marketing or copywriting, this book is for you. Monty Rainey, a customer on Amazon, says this:
Hey Whipple, Squeeze This by Luke Sullivan
If you didn’t catch the gist of the joke right away, give it a second thought. Award-winning writer Luke Sullivan has worked for Miller Lite and Time Magazine for the past three decades. All of that information is condensed into a how-to manual for creating ads, along with strategies and real-world examples of successful (and unsuccessful) campaigns. Anyone who wants to learn both copywriting and how to land a job should check out this classic. Be sure to get the fifth edition, which includes updates from Edward Boche, to assist bridge the gap between digital, social, and conventional media applications.
The classic book on advertising concept, creation, and execution was so good that I didn’t think it could get much better. Even though I thought it would be difficult, Edward Boches added something to Sullivan’s brilliantly-thought-out how-to that I thought would be impossible: to guide, illuminate, and grasp today’s ever-changing digital world in a book. This is a great course for anyone hoping to go into the advertising and marketing industry. Anyone who’s been in the field for a while and wants to get up to speed on the latest developments can take advantage of this course. Helayne Spivak, a consumer on Amazon, explains.
Tested Advertising Methods by John Caples
This is yet another book that every copywriter should have in their library. The name “Tried Advertising Methods” says it all: tried-and-true tactics for increasing sales. John Caples, an advertising icon, was a stickler for split-testing, so you can rest assured that every idea in this book has been thoroughly researched and tried. That’s right, David Ogilvy (yep, THAT David Ogilvy) wrote the forward to this book. It’s true that timeless advice has no expiration date, but this book does. It’s been around for a while now. Quite a bit of time has passed.
But it’s certainly worth reading, especially if you work with paid advertising campaigns or direct response copywriting. I’ve heard it’s the best chapter. In my opinion, Chapter 5 alone is worth the price of the book.”
One or more of his headline strategies can be found in five out of every ten ads. Why? For the simple reason that they continue to function today. As a pioneer in ad testing, Caples was a pioneer in the field of advertising. Even now, the principles he lays out in this book make perfect sense.” marketing resource blog – John Bagwell
The Adweek Copywriting Handbook by Joseph Sugarman
For the price of one magazine advertisement, Joseph Sugarman once sold a used plane that had been appraised at $190,000, for $240,000. Let me know if that doesn’t strike a chord with you. So it is with us… but trust me when I say this: it’s a huge issue! A $2,000 course Sugarman gave in the ’70s influenced the Adweek Copywriting Handbook. A guidebook is the best feature of this book. Step-by-step, it discusses the emotional triggers and factors that make up a killer piece of copy.
When it comes to crafting sales-y content, this book provides a step-by-step guide for copywriters. As a salesperson, I’ve always struggled with it. Eskimos wouldn’t buy my pocket warmers, so I gave up trying… My life has been forever changed by a book I came upon recently. Something clicked for me in the book’s first five chapters. My mind began to swell, and I was brimming with ideas and excitement like just a handful of novels have done before.” In the words of one Amazon customer: “I’m Jeremy Menefee.”
The Copywriter’s Handbook by Robert Bly
Just like the book’s title, it sums it all perfectly. This is the first guide to copywriting. Every imaginable copywriting approach is covered within its more than 400 pages, and Robert Bly is an authority on the subject, having had a successful freelance career (back when freelancing wasn’t really a thing) and authoring over 60 books.
Beginners and marketing generalists who are interested in the sales strategies employed in copywriting will find this book useful, and it has been updated to include more recent examples (ex. email, landing pages, etc.). Delivering the facts is exactly what Bly recommends. It seemed like I had to halt every few sentences in order to comprehend the new information. Because it’s a textbook, you’ll need to pay close attention. It’s a lot of useful information… “The book is excellent for sales copywriting, but it falls short when it comes to branding.” On GoodReads: “Alix”
The Boron Letters by Gary C. Halbert
According to lore, reading The Boron Letters 100 times can replace your 10,000 hours of copywriting practice. Reading them slowly, as if you were writing 10,000 hours of text, is the key to mastering this technique” (whatever that number is). Boron Letters isn’t a book in the same sense as the others on this list. Written by Gary C. Halbert (aka the Greatest Copywriter Who Ever Lived) to his son Bond, this book contains a series of letters. Gary provides his insider knowledge on how to persuade and convert customers using copy in these letters, as well as some life lessons. He links the ideas to modern advertising with his own two cents, tucked beneath each letter, as well. Boron Letters is a cult classic in the world of advertising, but it’s more than that. In this “book,” you’ll learn about copywriting and advertising, persuasion and business, as well as how to make millions as a copywriter simply by reading rather than writing.
Marketing and life lessons are intertwined, and that’s why I say it’s both.” Throughout the book, the author offers advice on topics such as how to achieve success, how to avoid being taken advantage of, how to make wiser choices, and which friends to keep and which dead weight to toss out…. Regardless of their profession, I’ve recommended this book to every one of my acquaintances.” an Amazon shopper named Aaron Frankel says. That Are Still Relevant Today’s Modern Copywriting Books Copywriting, like marketing in general, is an experiment, which is often misinterpreted. In marketing, there is no such thing as a successful strategy. Things that are likely to work or are currently working are the only options. To get the most out of your copywriting education, you’ll want to read the opinions of people who are actually doing the testing and seeing what works and doesn’t for real businesses RIGHT NOW, not just those who have completed reading Ogilvy On Advertising for the tenth time.
Everybody Writes by Ann Handley
These days, everyone is a content creator. There is a good chance that you’re writing material for your website or social media accounts at some point. From LinkedIn and Facebook posts to email marketing and website copy, Ann Handley—the smart marketer behind MarketingProfs—provides a wealth of information in Everybody Writes. This isn’t exclusively for copywriters or wannabe copywriters, despite the title’s implication. All writers should take advantage of it (in other words: you). Entrepreneurs, business owners, and marketing professionals can benefit from this book.
In the light of this list, “Everybody Writes” is a new how-to guide. To make matters more complicated, the author doesn’t provide a detailed guideline for readers to follow in order to accomplish their goal. It’s difficult to write a review for a book like this since there are so many aha moments that it’s impossible to pick a single one out. I can’t tell you how many times I’d think, “Oh, this is good.” as I flipped through the pages with an orange highlighter in hand. Throughout the book, you’ll either find yourself thinking, “I need to remember this” or laughing out loud at her sense of humor. As said by Lauren Rebecca –