The cinematographer behind American Beauty, Conrad Hall, once said; “You are always a student, never a master. You have to keep moving forward.”
Although I’m still relatively new to the marketing world (with around 2 years of experience under my belt) I believe that no matter what age and level of experience you reach, there is always room for improvement.
That’s why, in this post, I’ll be looking at some of the most influential books I’ve read on the topic of copywriting from some of the best minds in the marketing world.
Write To Sell: The Ultimate Guide To Great Copywriting – Andy Malsen
Copywriting genius, Andy Malsen, is the Managing Director of the creative agency Sunfish. In Write To Sell… he glides through practical concepts that will improve your writing step by step. From opting for the correct tone of voice, to persuasive psychological techniques, all backed by examples and explanations.
This book is my copywriting bible. It’s a book I dip into every now and again to refresh my memory on the best practice when it comes to writing eloquent, convincing copy. A must have for any writer. Its obvious that this was penned by an experienced copywriter who wants others to learn.
2. Ogilvy On Advertising – David Ogilvy
The undisputed king of modern advertising, David Ogilvy shares his expertise with a spicy side-order of sass. This book not only provides an insight into the 20th century advertising agency, it shares the lessons Ogilvy has learned throughout his career in a refreshingly matter-of-fact manner.
From artwork to PR, TV scripts to direct mail, there’s nothing Ogilvy doesn’t know about the advertising world. This book is a fount of knowledge that has been tried and tested in the real world. An absolute must for anyone in advertising or marketing (creative and account side!).
3. Copywriting Made Simple – Tom Albrighton
Another copywriter’s must-have. If you’ve seen Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban, you’ll recall the Marauder’s Map. A secret map that essentially tells the user exactly what they need to know at any given stage of their quest. No messing.
I would compare Tom Albrighton’s book to just that. Copywriting Made Simple walks you through the world of copywriting step by step, dispensing invaluable advice along way. It is written with the precision that you would expect from a professional copywriter, a careful choice of words makes every page both informative and a joy to read.
4. Scientific Advertising – Claude C. Hopkins
It was David Ogilvy who said, “Every time I see a bad advertisement, I say to myself, ‘The man who wrote this copy has never read Claude Hopkins”. Ogilvy went on to hand out around 400 copies of this exact book to colleagues and clients.
As perhaps the most important copywriter of all time, Hopkins lays the groundworks of understanding and principle in advertising. There is very little in this book that you won’t be able to apply to modern day campaigns. If I was trying to sound profound, which I am, I would say that the most harm you could do to your copywriting career would be not to read this book.
5. How To Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie
Part anecdote, part life lesson, How to Win Friends… sees Carnegie talk us through some real life scenarios and how to deal with them. The lessons are uninterupted and fluid in this book and cover everything from how to swiftly settle an argument with a spouse, to keeping your cool in the boardroom and getting that promotion.
There are important lessons in people management, as well as informed introspection. I would highly recommend this book to anyone, marketer or not. I think some of the lessons between these pages are important if you want to be successful, professional and fulfilled in both work and general life.
There are many more books that are considered voices of authority in the field of copywriting and marketing, I’m sure, however these five books are critical to me. They are an absolutely immovable foundation from which to build your own knowledge.
They are five books that I know I will continue reading for the rest of my life.