Caution and hard work: the family inheritance that laid the foundations for the success of Hopkins’ career
A pioneer of modern advertising, Claude C. Hopkins was born in 1866 to an austere, very religious family in a small town in Michigan. His father, a Baptist pastor and owner of the local newspaper, died very early in his life, so at the tender age of 9, a young Claude found himself having to work hard to help his family, whilst also continuing his education at school, to be able to fulfil his destiny of joining the church. He continued his ecclesiastical studies until he was 18, more because it was familiar to him than as a chosen vocation, until an argument with his mother made him decide to abandon the path of religion all together. He did, however, inherit his father’s passion for work and a parsimonious nature from his Scottish mother, characteristics which later stood him in good stead in his advertising career. In fact, Hopkins always created adverts that guaranteed the clients real value, and thanks to the method that he himself developed to measure this value, which enabled his clients to reduce waste on their investment to a minimum, and maximise profit. “Safety first”, was always his mantra. Cutting costs and being careful were instinctive to him, because he was aware that most failures in business (particularly in advertising) were due to the recklessness of exceeding the limits. Small failures in advertising are to be expected and they don’t mean much, in the scheme of a job well done. The important thing is a company learns from its mistakes and uses the lessons to make adjustments. Thanks to this approach, Hopkins was always able to minimise his losses and they never affected people’s trust in his impeccable reputation. Compared to the little mistakes, the profits that Hopkins earned for himself and his clients were often in the millions, and they brought him great prestige. As well as being cautious, Hopkins’ excellent results came from an enormous number of hours and energy dedicated to his work, and his conviction that a man who does three times the work of another, also learns three times as much, both from his failures and from his successes. So he almost always worked until late at night, and very often over the weekends. Having said that, work was a game for him, a passion that he cultivated relentlessly.
The key ideas of "My Life in Advertising and Scientific Advertising"
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