Jul 10, 2018 - 08:07 AM
Absolutely. I would pay up to $1000 for it. I got my copy for $100 in 2011 and it is one of the best books on direct response marketing I've ever read. I try to read it at least once a year as there is so much wisdom in it--literally like peeling off layers of an onion with each reading!
The biggest idea it is known for is the five levels of marketing sophistication. The success of your messaging depends on how well tuned it is to the the maturity of your market. The five levels are:
1. Virgin market aka 'blue ocean': If you are first to market with a product, all you have to do is state what your product does in plain terms. E.g. the 'reducing' market to use Eugene Schwartz's term--the very first weight loss product in the late 19th century. With thousands of weight loss offers on the market today it may be hard to imagine a time when this was not a thing. By the way, this first weight loss product was based on sanitized tape worms that were supposed to eat up the fat in your body.
image credit: http://test.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread1177436...
2. Level Two: A level one market that is now saturated with competitors. It is no longer enough to simply state the claim plainly. At this stage successful products quantify the claim e.g. Lose 30 pounds in 30 days guaranteed! To stand out, competitors push the bounds of believability by making ever more exaggerated claims. Lose 40 pounds of fat in 24 hours flat!
3. Level Three: A level two market where the claims are to wildly exaggerated to be persuasive. At this stage, what works is explaining the uniqueness of the mechanism that leads to weight loss. To continue using the weight loss example, this would be things like Acai Berry or Green Coffee extract. The active ingredient has some unique property that is credible in how it actually works.
Another example would be reservatol-based weight loss pills.
Image credit: Amazon.com
Their explanation went something like this:
- Reservatol is found in red wine
- The French drink lots of red wine
- French women are thin despite gorging on baguettes and pastries. Why? duh, because of the reservatol in the red wine.
- Get our reservatol pills and you'll be thin like French women, while eating whatever you like!
4. Level Four: At this stage, the workings of the unique mechanism is generally accepted and lots of competitors are making the same claim. To stand out, you need to expand the claim in the same way that level 2 expands the claims of level 1. For example, after Acai Berry ran its course from 2008 to 2011, the level four claim in 2012 was "pharmaceutical grade Acai Berry extract".
You can also see an example of this from the shaving blade wars. Initially just one blade was enough when King Gillette introduced the 'safety razor' in 1903.
Original safety razor design from the patent filing (c. 1902)
Somewhere along the way, someone introduced a double razor, in a classic "expansion of the claim of the uniqueness of the mechanism". And if two was better than one, why not three? I believe it was Gillette competitor Schick that introduced the triple razor--with a clean shaven Andre Agassi as spokesman!
Today, 5 to 7 razors are the norm as in the Gillette Fusion five.
When the claim cannot be expanded any further, sometimes going back to the original simple product can work. Harry's, the heavily venture-backed razor startup, had a funny ad about this. They poked fun at the many razors in Gillette and their high prices, saying something along the lines of "in your grandfather's day, one razor worked just fine and it still does today. Our product is simple, inexpensive and just works."
5. Level Five: A fully mature market where every possible claim has been made and every angle exploited and expanded to snapping point. Here, the focus of the messaging switches from the product to the customer. "Picture youself, 30 days from now....a whole new you, thin and energized" type of messaging.
By the way, I just found out that you can get the book for $125 from the late author's friend who now owns the copywright: