Breakthrough Advertising Summary by Eugene M. Schwartz

Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene M. Schwartz is a seminal work in marketing and copywriting. The book focuses on understanding the psychological forces that drive consumer behavior and how to channel these forces to create compelling advertising. Schwartz emphasizes that every new market, product, and advertisement presents a unique challenge, requiring innovative and analytical approaches to create successful campaigns.

Chapter 1: Mass Desire – The Force That Makes Advertising Work

Eugene Schwartz emphasizes that successful advertising hinges on harnessing pre-existing mass desires. These desires are not created by the advertiser but are tapped into and directed towards the product. Schwartz defines mass desire as the public spread of a private want. He explains that a market is born when enough individuals share the same desire. Advertising’s role is to channel this existing desire onto a particular product, leveraging the Amplification Effect, where a small investment in advertising can yield significant returns if it effectively directs a powerful, existing desire.

Chapter 2: Your Prospect’s State of Awareness

This chapter focuses on the varying states of awareness of potential customers. Schwartz categorizes prospects into five levels of awareness:

  1. Completely unaware of the product and the problem it solves.
  2. Aware of the problem but unaware of the solution.
  3. Aware of the solution but not your product.
  4. Aware of your product but not convinced.
  5. Completely aware and ready to buy.

The goal is to tailor the headline and advertising message to the specific state of awareness of the target audience, ensuring maximum relevance and impact.

Chapter 3: The Sophistication of Your Market

Schwartz discusses the sophistication of the market, referring to how many similar products have preceded yours. He outlines five stages of market sophistication:

  1. First to market with a new product or concept.
  2. The market begins to see alternatives.
  3. Market saturation with many alternatives.
  4. Market skepticism and resistance due to over-saturation.
  5. Innovative products that redefine the market.

Understanding the stage of sophistication helps in crafting messages that stand out and resonate with the target audience.

Chapter 4: 38 Ways to Strengthen Your Headline Once You Have Your Basic Idea

This chapter provides 38 specific techniques to enhance headlines, which are critical for capturing attention and enticing the reader to engage with the ad. Some key techniques include:

  • Using curiosity to draw interest.
  • Making a specific promise to the reader.
  • Highlighting the uniqueness of the product.
  • Creating a sense of urgency or scarcity.
  • Employing testimonials and social proof.

Chapter 5: Summary – The Art of Creative Planning

Schwartz summarizes the principles of creative planning, emphasizing the three levels of creativity:

  1. Connecting with the primary human desires.
  2. Differentiating the product in a crowded market.
  3. Innovating and redefining the market.

He also discusses the importance of motivation research in understanding what drives the target audience and how to express the product’s personality in a way that resonates with them.

Chapter 6: Inside Your Prospect’s Mind – What Makes People Read, Want, Believe

This chapter delves into the psychological aspects of advertising, exploring the desires, identifications, and beliefs of prospects. Schwartz highlights the importance of understanding these psychological triggers to craft messages that compel people to read, want, and believe in the product.

Chapter 7: The First Technique of Breakthrough Copy – Intensification

Intensification involves amplifying the core desires and emotions associated with the product. Schwartz outlines thirteen ways to strengthen desire, including:

  • Presenting dramatic images and promises.
  • Demonstrating the product’s benefits in action.
  • Using testimonials and expert endorsements.
  • Creating vivid comparisons and contrasts.
  • Showing the ease of obtaining the benefits.

Chapter 8: The Second Technique of Breakthrough Copy – Identification

Identification involves aligning the product with the self-image and aspirations of the target audience. Schwartz discusses how to build a saleable personality into the product by creating character roles and achievement roles that the audience can relate to and aspire towards.

Chapter 9: The Third Technique of Breakthrough Copy – Gradualization

Gradualization is the process of building belief step-by-step. Schwartz explains how to structure an ad so that each statement builds on the previous one, leading the prospect logically and comfortably towards accepting the product’s claims. This involves understanding the existing beliefs of the audience and preparing them to accept new facts incrementally.

Techniques of Breakthrough Copy (Chapters 10-16)

In these chapters, Schwartz covers various techniques in-depth:

  • Mechanization: Demonstrating that the product works as claimed.
  • Concentration: Focusing the message on the most compelling benefit.
  • Substantiation: Providing proof and evidence to back up claims.
  • Visualization: Using imagery and storytelling to create a vivid picture in the prospect’s mind.
  • Simplification: Breaking down complex ideas into simple, digestible messages.
  • Reiteration: Reinforcing the core message through repetition and varied presentation.


“Breakthrough Advertising” is a comprehensive guide that delves into the art and science of crafting compelling advertisements. Schwartz’s approach is deeply analytical, and rooted in understanding the psychological and emotional triggers that drive consumer behavior. His emphasis on leveraging existing desires, tailoring messages to the audience’s state of awareness, and methodically building belief makes this book a timeless resource for advertisers and marketers.

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