Do the HOME­work too!

When it comes to Adver­tis­ing, Mar­ket­ing, and Per­sua­sion, are you a stu­dent of what’s come before you?

  • Do you know the history?
  • Do you try to learn from the greats by read­ing their books and study­ing their works?
  • Do you look at all of it?  Or just a nar­row slice?

If you didn’t answer Yes to the main ques­tion and the first two bul­let points, you can stop read­ing now. Really. There’s no hope for you.

But I find that quite a few seri­ous copy­writ­ers get hung up on the third bul­let point.

These copy­writ­ers have stud­ied the direct mail lin­eage — Hop­kins, Caples, Col­lier, Schwartz, Hal­bert, Kennedy, et al — but haven’t looked at any of the giants of Madi­son Ave style adver­tis­ing beyond, maybe, Ogilvy.  And vice versa for broad­cast adver­tis­ing guys who’ve never stud­ied Direct Response marketing.

Or they’ve never thought that the The­atre Arts or Rhetoric or Com­edy Writ­ing or Sales Train­ing or even say, Comic Books had any­thing to teach them.

In other words, they dis­miss stuff that’s not directly in their field or that they don’t “get” right away. Big mistake.

So today’s les­son: be a stu­dent of the game — the whole game.  Learn what’s great from the past. Study it.  Note that “study” doesn’t mean pas­sively read­ing it. When in doubt, fig­ure out what other great tal­ents that you DO like see in the “greats” that you don’t get.

And here’s two great links to get you started on the path:

  1. This New York Times arti­cle on Ed McCabe [hat tip to The Escape Pod for turn­ing me onto this article]
  2. This Invis­i­ble Ink post on learn­ing from leg­ends you don’t “get” at first con­tact.

P.S. That NYT arti­cle men­tions the same Volvo ad I used as an exam­ple in my last The­ory Thurs­day post and I man­aged to snag a screen shot of it.  Here it is:


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