Break Through Advertising

Breakthrough Advertising” is a seminal book on copywriting by Eugene M. Schwartz, originally published in 1966. It focuses on creating highly persuasive advertising that cuts through the noise and compels the reader to take action.

Here’s a breakdown of the core concepts:

1. Mass Desire as the Driving Force:

  • Schwartz argues that advertising doesn’t create desire, but rather channels existing mass desires onto specific products.
  • These desires are powerful forces shaped by social, economic, and technological factors.
  • Copywriters must identify these desires and demonstrate how their product fulfills them.

2. States of Awareness and Sophistication:

  • He emphasizes the importance of understanding the prospect’s “State of Awareness” (how much they know about the product and its ability to satisfy their desire) and “State of Sophistication” (how many similar products they’ve been exposed to).
  • He outlines five stages for both awareness and sophistication, requiring different advertising strategies depending on where the market stands.

3. Seven Techniques of Breakthrough Copy:

Schwartz presents seven techniques for crafting persuasive body copy:

  • Intensification: Amplifying the prospect’s desire by vividly showcasing the product’s benefits.
  • Identification: Building desirable character and achievement roles into the product to allow the prospect to project their desired self-image.
  • Gradualization: Leading the prospect through a logical chain of acceptances, starting with easily-believed facts and progressively introducing more complex claims.
  • Redefinition: Overcoming objections by presenting a new, more favorable definition of the product.
  • Mechanization: Verbally demonstrating how the product works and delivers on its promises.
  • Concentration: Directly comparing the product with competitors, emphasizing weaknesses and highlighting the product’s superiority.
  • Camouflage: Borrowing believability by mimicking the style and format of the medium, making the ad feel less like “advertising” and more like trusted content.

4. Headline Strategy:

  • Headlines don’t sell, they grab attention and compel the reader to the next sentence, drawing them into the copy.
  • Headlines must be strategically crafted based on the target audience’s stage of awareness and sophistication.
  • Schwartz provides numerous techniques for strengthening headlines, including measuring claims, using comparisons, metaphors, demonstrations, and more.

5. Key Principles:

  • Focus on Benefits: Emphasize what the product does for the consumer, not its features.
  • Specificity and Concreteness: Use vivid language, detailed descriptions, and specific examples to paint a compelling picture of the product’s benefits.
  • Emotional Appeal: Tap into the reader’s emotions and desires to create a strong connection with the product.
  • Logical Structure: Build a persuasive argument by gradually introducing claims and providing supporting evidence.
  • Believability: Ensure that claims are believable and backed by proof, testimonials, or authority figures.

Impact and Legacy:

Breakthrough Advertising” has had a significant impact on the field of copywriting, influencing generations of advertisers and marketers. It remains a valuable resource for understanding consumer psychology and crafting persuasive copy.

However, it’s important to note that the book’s examples and approach reflect the social norms and media landscape of its time. Modern copywriters need to adapt Schwartz’s principles to today’s more diverse and sophisticated audiences, ethical considerations, and the ever-evolving digital world.

Breakthrough Advertising Summary

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