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Learn the key ideas of the book by Victor Opper Schwab

How to write a good advertisement

Creating communications that capture the attention of your reader

Writing high quality advertising copy requires a certain level of respect for meticulous rules, starting with an excellent knowledge of the product you are trying to sell. This is as true today as it was in the 1840’s, when How To Write A Good Advertisement: A Short Course In Copywriting was published for the first time. Even though today’s business landscape is radically different, the tips assembled in this guide to writing promotional material are current, and perfectly applicable to copywriting today. 

How to write a good advertisement
Read in 11 min.
Listen in 14 min.

Many useful tips to:

  • Learn the timeless rules of advertising communication.
  • Discover the key steps to follow to write an excellent advertisement.
  • Attract the reader and lead them to your end goal.

The author of the book:

Victor Opper Schwab, “one of the top copywriters of all time,” was born in Hoboken, New Jersey, on 13th March 1898. At 19, Victor signed up for an evening course at Columbia University, where he met Max Sackheim, copywriter for mail-order sales agency Ruthrauff & Ryan, who hired him as a personal secretary, marking the beginning of his career. His professional efforts contributed to making  Dale Carnegie’s book How To Win Friends and Influence People a bestseller in the 1930s. A pioneer in the use of coupon ads, Schwab codified and compiled his rules on copywriting in the timeless Short Course in Copywriting.


People don’t have time to read long winded content, so their “reward” for taking the time to read an advertisement should be highly noticeable

Let’s start with the numbers: a person will read four adverts in a magazine; to read an entire magazine, it takes at least fourteen hours; according to a survey carried out for the National Association of American Advertisers, over 66% of businessmen and professionals spend at least fifteen minutes or less reading daily newspapers.

Simply put, adverts have to compete with a huge quantity of content and a scarcity of time, so as Arthur Brisbane puts it, they have to be “easier to read than to skip”. To make this happen, companies have to offer a “reward-for-reading” that is so tempting that people will want to read them. A good ad has five characteristics:

  • it attracts attention;
  • it offers an advantage;
  • it explains the reasons for the advantage;
  • it persuades you to take the advantage;
  • it asks you to carry out an action.

The key ideas of "How to write a good advertisement"

People don’t have time to read long winded content, so their “reward” for taking the time to read an advertisement should be highly noticeable
To capture people’s attention the first area to focus on is the title, which must entice the reader to keep reading the ad instead of “skipping” it
The layout of the ad is the reader’s second “anchor” in advertising, its task is to make the ad stand out in the midst of the other content
The ad text is all played out in the first paragraph: the promise that the headline makes must be confirmed and clarified quickly and easily
The longer the ad is able to hold the reader’s attention, the greater chance the product has of being successful. There are some golden rules to follow to achieve this
Take-home message

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