Wise, witty quotes from the advertising masters

Mark Twain once said, “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”

How true. I suppose that’s why I enjoy collecting and sharing quotations about advertising. You can read a hundred books and still not learn as much as you can from one pithy quote.

So I’m going to shut up and let the old masters (and a few extra guests) speak this week.

“Advertising is what you do when you can’t go see somebody. That’s all it is.” –Fairfax Cone

“The simplest definition of advertising, and one that will probably meet the test of critical examination, is that advertising is selling in print.” –Daniel Starch

“Advertising in the final analysis should be news. If it is not news it is worthless.” –Adolph S. Ochs

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Do you sell “things” or experiences?

sell things or experiencesYou’ve probably heard the expression, “People don’t want drills. They want holes.”

This is a reminder that benefits outweigh features. While this is good advice for creating more effective advertising and marketing messages, it’s not the whole story.

Top advertising and marketing pros have long known that people are less interested in having possessions than they are in having the benefits of possessions.

But the word “benefits” implies a utilitarian approach to buying things. It sounds as if people are always on the lookout for practical ways to solve problems.

Unfortunately, people just aren’t that rational. Apart from basic necessities, most purchases are discretionary. We buy things we want, but don’t necessarily need.

I’ve written about the motivations for buying, but an article at Psyblog got me thinking about this in a new and simpler way.

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How to explain what you do for a living

When I go to parties, people always ask what I do for a living. When I tell them “direct marketing,” they nod, but I know they’re clueless.

People don’t really know the difference between the various flavors of advertising and marketing. And book definitions don’t help. So I’ve adopted a more pragmatic way of explaining my line of work and how it differs from other specialties.

Feel free to steal this and use it for yourself. I did.

You’re at a party and see a beautiful woman. You walk up to her and say, “I’m great in bed.” That’s Direct Marketing.

You’re at a party and see a beautiful woman. You ask your friend to walk up to her and say, “See that guy over there? He’s great in bed.” That’s Advertising

You’re at a party and see a beautiful woman. You get her phone number from someone. The next day you call and say, “I’m great in bed.” That’s Telemarketing.

You’re at a party and see a beautiful woman. You comb your hair, straighten your tie, then ask if she’d like drink. You chat and joke with her throughout the evening, offer her a ride home, walk her to her door, then say, “By the way, I’m great in bed.” That’s Public Relations.

You’re at a party and see a beautiful woman. She walks up to you and says, “I know you. You’re the one who’s great in bed.” That’s Brand Recognition.

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Copywriting blogs you should be reading today

A few months ago on my Pro Copy Tips blog, I published a short list of copywriting blogs that offer sound and often entertaining advice.

That post got a fair number of comments and tweets, so I thought it would be worthwhile to re-post it here.

A few people emailed me and wondered why I didn’t include this or that blog. One or two people were insulted. But I assure you, this isn’t meant to be a list of the only copywriting blogs, just a list of some of my favorites which I think are worth reading.

So if you don’t see your blog of choice, don’t get your panties in a twist. This isn’t a contest. If there’s a particular blog you like, leave a comment and a link. Okay?

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