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My last post was about how much foresight Ted Levitt had when he published Marketing Myopia in 1960. That got me thinking about the eye-opening book I stumbled upon 15 years ago....


The book -- Advertising and Selling: Principles of Appeal and Response .... was written by Harry L. Hollingworth, a Professor of Psychology at Columbia and NYU, and published in 1917! That's right, 89 years ago.
Take a look at these excerpts:
"After all has been said, the final value of an appeal depends entirely on the effectiveness with which it leads to the desired specific action. No amount of care in framing a solicitation so as to catch the eye, to hold the attention, and to stick in the memory, will be worth the trouble if the reader's reaction does not go beyond the appeal itself (italics mine), and include the article which the appeal announces. Granted, then, that the first three tasks have been adequately performed, what are the principles which control the direction, the certainty, and the force of the response?
"Obviously, there are two cases to be considered here. First, the case in which the appeal is addressed directly to the life of feeling, impulse and instinct - what we have called the short-circuit appeal - and, second, the case in which deliberation, comparison and argument are invited - the "reason why" appeal by means of the long circuit. In the first case, there is no conflict or rivalry stirred up in the reader's consciousness; there is simply the attempt to present the article in such a way as to provoke some firmly grounded set of appropriation, to stir up some strong impulse or keen desire and so to lead to favorable action. In the second type conflict is, on the contrary, even encouraged. Selling points, superiorities, advantages, etc., are advanced, and the claims of rival commodities deliberately challenged."
Hollingworth says one type of short-circuit appeal is "the appeal through command, assertion, invitation, either direct or indirect. Such an appeal will owe its force to the degree to which it conforms to the laws of suggestion."
Here are the first two laws:
"1. Decision is only another name for the final outcome of the rivalry of competing ideas. It is, then, important, in appealing over the short circuit for a specific line of action, not to suggest interference, not to suggest an opposing action, a substitute, a rival idea. Any such suggestion will simply impede the action power of the first idea, by inviting comparison and making necessary a more or less deliberate choice..."
"2. The strength of a suggestion will be the greater the more the suggestion appears to be of spontaneous internal origin. Every one of us is predisposed in favor of his own ideas. We instinctively resist encroachment, domination, external control. But we welcome and magnify an impulse, a tendency, a line of action that seems to have originated in our own bosom. For this reason an external suggestion which seeks maximal action power should be addressed to some present interest, personal value, or universal instinct. Such appeals are not readily recognized as external and foreign. They are readily assimilated and transformed into personal intentions."
Further, "Two common tendencies of current advertising take advantage of this principle. One is– to give news interest to advertising copy. The advertisement thus easily appears as simply an avenue of information, the beseeching or arrogant tones are lost, and the action suggested seems easily to be a quite natural and matter-of-fact intention of the reader. The other tendency is the constant use of repetition and variation. By these means the particular time and place of origin of the suggestion are lost."
Think this man would have been a direct marketing superstar today? Think he would conquer online marketing? I do!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lee Marc Stein is a direct marketing consultant and copywriter with over 40 years experience. He has developed and executed direct marketing programs for a wide variety of marketers in the publishing, insurance and financial services, nonprofit, technology, and business-to-business arenas. Current clients include Effectiveness Solutions Research, Entertainment Publications, Long Island Children’s Museum, National Grants Conferences, Rickard List Marketing, Travelers Insurance, and a number of direct response agencies.

As a direct response agency executive, Lee worked with companies like Chase, Colonial Penn Auto Insurance, Dial Corporation, Hertz, Mead Johnson, The Money Store, and U.S. Airways. He also held marketing management positions at Standard & Poor’s, BusinessWeek, and McGraw-Hill Information Systems Company.

Lee taught at NYU and Hofstra, and has spoken at 100+ industry conferences. He was a Founder of the Long Island Direct Marketing Association, and is currently on the Board of Directors of the Direct Marketing Association of Long Island.