If You Don’t Bother to Learn Your Craft, Don’t Bother Period.

A business owner recently told me, ?I hired an ad agency that seems to know nothing about direct marketing. When I asked their copywriter whether she?d read John Caples, her response was, ?I?ve never heard of him.??

He was surprised — and dismayed.

But is this as big as sin as he makes it out to be?

In my opinion, yes.

Direct marketing is more complex than most other forms of marketing (online marketing being the possible exception).

There are lots of principles you need to understand, based on millions of dollars of tested results.

To ignore this body of knowledge, accumulated at great cost, is foolhardy.

Especially since this knowledge is readily obtained by reading the books that the top direct marketing experts have written … books in which they freely share what they know.

Click here for my list of the 10 marketing books every direct marketer absolutely must read.

How many of these have you read? If you haven?t read them, why not? What books would you recommend instead?


298 thoughts on “If You Don’t Bother to Learn Your Craft, Don’t Bother Period.

  • How about the obvious? The Copywriter’s Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing That Sells

    I’ll check-out the list. I’m glad I don’t call my self a copywriter; at first glance I’m not familiar with any of them!

    The Ultimate Sales Letter by Dan Kennedy is pretty good.

    Slightly off topic, I highly recommend Jump Start Your Business Brain by Doug Hall. Although the book is not about direct marketing, it’s a great book about effective communications with prospective and existing customers.

  • I’d suggest 2 others:

    1) The Complete Database Marketer by Arthur Hughes – Great resource for understanding list compiling techniques, RFM & other segmentation methods. This was one of the first books that introduced me to the concept of Loyalty Marketing.

    2) Profitable Direct Marketing by Jim Kobs – An excellent, comprehensive approach to preparing for, launching and maintaining a direct marketing effort.

  • Bob, great list!
    Here’s my list of must reads:
    1) Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins
    2) Maximum Money in Minimum Time by Gary Halbert
    3) Boron Letters by Gary Halbert
    4) Kick ass Secrets of a Marketing Rebel by John Carlton
    5) Ogilvy on Advertising by Ogilvy
    6) My Life in Advertising by Claude Hopkins
    7) Psychological Triggers by Sugarman

    — Jason B.

  • I think there are two direct marketing worlds. The world of big agencies who think they are better direct marketers because they’re more sophisticated and “creative” than the rest of us; and, the true direct marketers who apply the principles and test relentlessly. (Can you tell I’m a little biased?)

    I once had an opportunity to chat with a big-shot art director of a large direct marketing agency in Toronto. Since Ted Kikoler lives in the same city, I asked if he ever met Ted. “Ted Kikoler?” he replied, puzzled. “Never heard of him.”

  • There is a lot of talent out there in all aspects of advertising – some have written books but most haven’t. Some are too busy doing to write about it. I am familiar with some of those on the list but I’m not sure I’d fault others for not having read any on MY list.

    Does anyone thing it’s possible to be a great ad exec without reading a pile of How To books? BTW – what do you suppose Ogilvy read?

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  • I’ve read all the books you’ve recommended. And I would heartily recommend all the books (and ebooks) you’ve written. In my opinion, you are one of the copywriting geniuses of our time. I love your books. You so freely share a wealth of information that has come from a lifetime of experience.

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