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We continue our journey through important milestones in the history of advertising.

In 1916, James Walter Thompson retires and is bought by a group of colleagues for $500,000.

In 1917 the American Association of Advertising Agencies was founded with 111 members.

In 1919 Barton, Durstine and Osborn (BDO) opened in New York.

In 1919, James Webb Young became famous for his advertisement for Odorono. This was the first attempt at deodorant advertising for women. At that time, there was an uproar. Many women perceived his ad as offensive. Its headline read: “Inside the curve of a woman’s arm.” But he was proven right, as sales of the product skyrocketed 112% in the first year.

In 1921 Baygul and Jacobs open in Omaha

It was in the 1920s that Emmanuel Haldeman Julius sold over 200 million copies of his Little Blue Books.

And he never wrote a single one of them. All he did was market them, and if a title didn’t work for him, he’d trade it. In his own words: “A good title is a work of genius.”

He calculated that simply changing the title of a book increased sales. Who can argue?

His book, which is not surprisingly titled: “The First Hundred Million,” shows how he advertised his booklets in newspapers and magazines.

Here’s what copywriting legend Gary Halbert had to say: “Go read a copy of ‘The First Hundred Million.’ It’s where I learned my magic words…the ones that make the copy SPARKLE and my headlines impossible to ignore.”

E. Haldeman-Julius had a system. If a title didn’t sell more than 10,000 copies in a year, he was sent to a place in his office called “The Hospital” and here he was given a new title. And if the new title bombed, then he went to “The Morgue”.

As an example, he had a book titled: “The Art of Controversy” that did not pass his 10,000 copy criteria. The title was changed to: “How to Argue Logically” and sales soared to 30,000 copies. Because? She didn’t change anything about the book, just the title.

By doing this, Haldeman-Julius discovered that certain words, when used in the title, could increase the sales of almost any book.

For example, a book by Dr. Arthur Cramp in 1925 called “Patent Medicine” sold barely 3,000 copies. Haldeman-Julius changed the title to: “The Truth About Patent Medicine” and sales rose to a respectable 10,000 copies. Haldeman-Julius discovered that the words: “The truth about” had some kind of magic.

Haldeman-Julius found that old chestnut: “How” in a title was by far the best. For example, the title: “How to Psychoanalyze Yourself” outsold “Psychoanalysis Explained” and “How I Psychoanalyzed Myself” nearly four times.

He found that the words: Life; Love; Sex; Romance; personal growth; and the entertainment also worked well in the titles.

He discovered how small changes to his titles made big differences in sales.

If you have a product that is not working as well as you would like. Take a look at the title. Does it contain the main benefit for your customers? Does it offer some curiosity?

Or do you have a headline that has a cute expression that your customer has to guess what your product or service is? If so, get rid of it.

Try changing the title of your sales copy. But before you do, make sure it’s a change for the better.

We are now in an “information age” and people desperately want information. The Internet is a perfect example.

People want facts. Well, guess what Haldeman-Julius found? “The facts you should know”. it turned out to be a great success. Nothing has changed since his days. These words still work today.

You can use the wisdom of Haldeman-Julius in your business today, no matter which line you’re on. Use your ideas in your reports, titles and headlines for your copy. Whenever you run out of ideas for a headline, try playing on words:

“How to” or “The truth about” or “The art of” or “Facts you should know” or “The key to…” or “The story of” or “A little secret of it”. And much more that you can dream up for yourself.

Haldeman-Julius was quite unique in what he did. He didn’t write any books. He took what others had written. All he did was market them. And he did it just by title. There was no copy of the body, only the titles.

Another master copywriter, David Ogilvy, used to write his headlines and practice them on his friends and family.

He is remembered for an impressive headline. But before he found it, he had written 104 different headlines.

That headline was, of course, his famous Rolls Royce copy: “At 60 miles per hour, loudest noise in new Rolls Royce comes from electric clock.”

Take heart, if a pro like David Ogilvy had to write all those headlines and test them out on friends, that surely tells you something.

David Ogilvy will also be remembered for his: “The Man in the Hathaway T-shirt,” which ran for 25 years.

Also his advertising campaign for Schweppes, where he persuaded the client, Commander Whitehead, to appear in his own advertisement and this lasted for 18 years.

His Rolls Royce advertisement remains the most famous automobile advertisement of all time.

He wrote two books: “Confessions of a Publicist” and “Ogilvy on Advertising.”

Some advertisers post without any title because their creators think it’s trendy or smart. Rarely will such an advertisement be successful.

If advertisers did tests, they would know what works and what doesn’t.

Here is another point. A long title that actually says something is much, much better than a short title that doesn’t say anything.

And possibly the most famous headline of all time was written by John Caples: “They laughed when I sat down at the piano, but when I started to play…”. This ad was written for the US School of Music and people still copy it today.

And soon after, Caples penned another famous headline: “They smiled when the waiter spoke to me in French…but when they heard my response…” which was also written for an educational establishment.

These headline ideas are still used to good effect now.

Caples did not like humor in his ads, once saying, Only half the people in this country have a sense of humor, and witty ads rarely sell anything.

Before leaving the topic of headlines, the topic wouldn’t be complete without some reference to Maxwell Sackheim’s classic: “Do you make these mistakes in English?”

You’ve probably read this headline somewhere, but did you know that it was originally titled: “Are you afraid of making mistakes in English?”

Obviously, the first headline outperformed the second. But do you know why? And you know which word made all the difference?

Tip: A headline that appeals to your reader’s self-interest is the best type of headline. And if the headline also appeals to the reader’s wishes, it can hardly go wrong.

These two appeals will make your reader want to read the copy.

The word “these” is the one word that makes all the difference.

That first headline aroused the interest and curiosity of the reader. He suggests reading the copy to find out what “these” mistakes are and to avoid them.

The second headline simply suggests that it is a stifling old book on English grammar. And no one wants to read that kind of book.

Sackheim’s winning ad ran for 40 years, without interruption. A record that has not yet been broken.

Great headlines sell. Period!

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