Ten classic direct marketing books

True story…

I was once interviewed my someone (a serious marketer) who before he started the recording asked if it was OK if he mentioned John Caples.

“Of course!” I replied. “Why do you ask?”

His answer was one of those things that initially shocked but did not surprise me…”Because half of the Internet marketing ‘experts’ I interview these days won’t let me mention anything that they can’t earn a commission from.”

That, sadly, sums up the state-of-affairs in much of what is called Internet marketing “education” today.

It’s a jungle out there. Choose your advisors wisely. Some have a vested interest in you not knowing what’s going on.

Be all you can be. Read.

Whether you’re the rawest new beginner or a seasoned pro with years under your belt, there are two things you need to know about Internet marketing:

1. Internet marketing is direct marketing
2. There is a gold mine of information on the subject contained in the many excellent books real marketing experts have written over the years

I know of no better way to accelerate your progress while at the same time improving your BS detector than to read – and continuously read – the books I call the Classics.

The secret, “they” hope you never find out

I try to spend at least 15 to 20 minutes every day going over one or more of these books.

It may not seem like much time, but it adds up.

Just 20 minutes a day is over two hours a week which is over 100 hours a year. That’s a brain changing (and life changing) chunk of time. I’ve been doing it for over twenty years myself.

As I’ve told all my students since Day One and repeat at every System Seminar: “Soak your brains in these books.They will change your life.”

You can do this – and why you should

This list could be much longer, but ten is plenty. In fact, any one of these books has the power to be life changing for you.

No matter what your budget of time and/or money, you can afford this “program.” In fact, I’d say nobody, no matter how much they already know, can afford not to do it.

The most successful marketers I know are invariably the most serious readers – and the very best ones never stop.

My Top Ten Reading List

1. My Life in Advertising – Claude Hopkins
2. Tested Advertising Methods – John Caples (Fourth edition or earlier)
3. How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling – Frank Bettger
4. Scientific Advertising – Claude Hopkins
5. How to Write a Good Advertisement – Victor Schwab
6. My First Sixty Years in Advertising – Maxwell Sackheim
7. Secrets of Successful Direct Mail – Richard Benson
8. Breakthrough Advertising – Eugene Schwartz
9. The Robert Collier Letter Book – Robert Collier
10. Common Sense Direct and Digital Marketing – Drayton Bird

While some of these books are hard to find, many are readily available in low cost editions.

Reading just one will make your year. Making them a part of your day will change your life.

The real secret of marketing success

Successful marketing comes from developing a way of thinking.

It’s not a the result of a bag of tricks and it’s certainly won’t come from a “coaching” program sold out of high pressure telephone boiler room.

Success is largely a do-it-yourself process.

It helps a lot if you have someone close to you who can show you the ropes. I didn’t. So I read.

By reading, I gradually found the real experts who knew what they were talking about.

I’m not saying I never went down a wrong path or was never fooled by a personable con artist. I have been. Plenty of times. But because of these books, even in the worst of times, I’ve always had a reliable rudder which has kept me on course.

Be all you can be. Read.

P.S. Our annual System Seminar is rooted in the direct marketing classics.

This year, we’ll be meeting April 9 through 11 and as has been true for the last five years our meeting will be in Chicago.

I picked Chicago as our annual “headquarters” because the Chicago area has the biggest concentration of direct marketers in the world. More even than New York.

It’s the place Claude Hopkins and Maxwell Sackheim, the guys who practically invented direct marketing, cut their teeth.

You can read all about this year’s faculty and the subjects we’ll be covering here: Click here for more information

– Ken McCarthy

P.S. For over 25 years I’ve been sharing the simple but powerful things that matter in business with my clients.

If you’d like direction for your business that will work today, tomorrow and twenty years from now, visit us at the System Club.

The next ten years in Internet marketing
The King of Madison Avenue


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