Cashvertising – January’s Book of the Month

Cashvertising is a classic and would be my first choice for anybody new to affiliate marketing. It was first published a hundred years ago or so by an old school print advertiser. It gives a great overview of the psychology behind marketing and copy writing. The book has become famous in internet marketing circles because to date noone has produced a better foundation for general marketing practice. It is a truely dateless classic that everyone involved in marketing should read.


Here’s my own summary of the book which I keep in my desk and review probably once every few months when I’m looking for new ideas/angles for campaigns.

Ca$hvertising Summary


  • 1) Survival, enjoyment of life, life extension.
  • 2) Enjoyment of food and beverages.
  • 3) Freedom from fear, pain, and danger.
  • 4) Sexual companionship.
  • 5) Comfortable living conditions.
  • 6) To be superior, winning, keeping up with the Jones.
  • 7) Care and protection of loved ones.
  • 8) Social approval.

“People buy because of emotion and justify with logic. Force an emotional by touching on a basic want or need.”

9 Learned Human Wants:

  • 1) To be informed.
  • 2) Curiosity.
  • 3) Cleanliness of body and surroundings.
  • 4) Efficiency.
  • 5) Convenience.
  • 6) Dependability / quality.
  • 7) Expression of beauty and style.
  • 8) Economy / profit.
  • 9) Bargains.

All successful marketing campaigns really boil down to one or more of the 17 above needs/desires.

17 Foundational Principles of Consumer Psychology

1) The Fear Factor – Selling the Scare. Fear sells. It drives them to spend money. Fear causes stress. Stress causes action. Tap existing fears.

Four Ingredient Recipe for Using Fear:

  • 1. It scares the hell out of people.
  • 2. It offers a specific recommendation for overcoming the fear-aroused threat.
  • 3. The recommended action is percieved as effective for reducing the threat.
  • 4. The message recipient believes that he or she can perform the recommended action.

(Fear can also paralyze. Use specific, believable recommendations. Use fears that are specific and widely recognized.)

2) Ego Morphing – Instant Identification. “By purchasing the ‘right stuff’ we enhance our own egos and rationalize away.” AKA. Retail therapy.

3) Transfer – Credibility by Osmosis. Symbols, images, or ideas. Cues. Institutions, celebrities, authorities. Experts i.e. “White lab coats.”

4) The Bandwagon Effect – Give Them Something To Jump On. “Consensus-Implies-Correctness” heuristic. People want to belong.

  • 1. Aspirational group – to which you’d LIKE to belong.
  • 2. Associative group – to which you SHARE ideals and values.
  • 3. Dissociative group – to which you DO NOT WANT to belong.

5) The Means-End Chain – The Critical Core. “Don’t buy for what it does today – but for what it will do tomorrow!” Future objective.

6) The Transtheoretical Model – Persuasion Step by Step.

  • Stage 1: Pre-contemplation: ignorant of your product’s existence.
  • Stage 2: Contemplation: aware and thought about using it.
  • Stage 3: Preparation: thinking about buying from you, but needs more information about benefits.
  • Stage 4: Action: “Here’s my credit card.”
  • Stage 5: Maintenance: continue to buy again and again. part of their daily lives.

1. Create ads that address all five stages.

2. Create a series of ads that progress over a period of time from stage one to stage five.

7) The Innoculation Theory – Make Them Prefer You for Life. Give them arguments against competitors. “Our competitors will tell you…”

8) Belief Re-Ranking – Change Their Reality. Appeal to either emotions like fear, humor, or guilt – or factual evidence and examples.

9) The Elaboration Likelihood Model – Adjust Their Attitude. Cues feel good, but Central Processing makes them PREFER you.

Two Routes to Change:

1. Central Route – persuading using logic, reasoning, and deep thinking. AKA. creating Preference

Central Route Processing: pour on the facts, stats, evidence, testimonials, studies, reports, and case histories. Weave an argument.

2. Peripheral Route – persuading using the association of pleasant thoughts and positive images. Aka, cues

Peripheral Route Processing: load your ads full of colorful, pleasant images, humourous or popular subject matter, or celebrities. Visual anchors.

10) The 6 Weapons of Influence – Shortcuts to Persuasion.

  • 1. Comparison: The power of your peers. Bandwagon effect. Social proof. Need to belong. Everybody is doing it.
  • 2. Liking: The Balance Theory. “I like you… take my money!” Attractive people have greater influence. Consider trustworthy and likable.
  • 3. Authority: Cracking the code of credibility. Mental shortcut. Man in the “white lab coat”.
  • 4. Reciprocation: What goes around comes around… profitably! Free samples and giving stuff away creates goodwill and obligation.
  • 5. Commitment/consistency: The “Four Walls” technique. Box them in. Elicit small actions and “yes” responses that cultivate to a larger request.
  • 6. Scarcity: Get ’em while they last! One day sale, limited offer, one while supplies last, first come first served, etc.
  • 11) Message Organization – Attaining Critical Clarity. Ads must be organized and well-structured. Confusing ads and creatives won’t sell anything.
  • 12) Examples vs. Statistics – And the Winner is… Examples by far. Emotion is the key to sales. Testimonials and endorsements are more engaging.
  • 13) Message Sideness – Dual Role Persuasion. Talk about both you and your competitors.
  • 14) Repetition and Redundancy – The Familiarity Factor. People don’t start seeing your ad until you run it seven times.
  • 15) Rhetorical Questions – Interesting, Aren’t They? “Aren’t you glad you used Dial?” “How do you spell relief?” “What would you do for a Klondike?”
  • 16) Evidence – Quick! Sell Me The Facts! Evidence can be facts, figures, testimonials, endorsements, research, charts, videos. As long as it’s real.
  • 17) Heuristics – Serving Billions of Lazy Brains Daily. “Length implies strength.” Long copy pages, lots of media, testimonials, etc. Long = good.


Ad Agency Secrets: 41 Proven Techniques

1) The Psychology of Simplicity – Use words effectively. Write so people can understand.

1. Use Short, Simple Words. – No $10 words. 5th grade level preferred.

2. The Shorter Your Sentances, the Better – Express only one thought in a sentance. No more.

3. The Short, Short Paragraph Trick – Limit regular paragraphs to 4-5 short sentances. Less in some cases (1-2) for easy reading.

4. Pile on Personal Pronouns – I, you, me, he, she, him, they, them, etc. Gives human flavor.

“Write to the chimpanzee brain. Simply. Directly.”

“Limit your opening paragraph to a maximum of eleven words.”

2) Bombard Your Readers With Benefits – Benefits are what you get from attributes.

“Consumers buy based on what the product will do for them, not on what ingredients it has.”

3) Put Your Biggest Benefit In Your Headline – Always. Keep under 6-9 words. 12 Max. Best is 3 or less.

“Unless your headline sells your product, you have wasted 90 percent of your money.”

“Short headlines enjoy higher readership than long headlines. As headlines grow, readership shrinks.”

4) Crank Up The Scarcity – Hard deadline: “Sale Ends August 21st”. Soft deadline: “Quantities limited.” “First 100 Buyers only!”

5) 22 Psychologically Potent Headline Starters:

There are four important qualities that a good headline may possess.

  1. Self-interest.
  2. News.
  3. Curiosity.
  4. Quick, easy way.
  • 1. FREE: “Free Book Shows You How to Write Sneaky Advertising That…”
  • 2. NEW: “Powerful New Seminar Teaches…”
  • 3. AT LAST: “At Last.. A Bakery That Only Uses…”
  • 4. THIS: “This New Invention Stops…”
  • 5. ANNOUNCING: “Announcing The Hottest New Sandwich…”
  • 6. WARNING!: “Warning! Some Dog Groomers Wrap a Noose…”
  • 7. JUST RELEASED: “Just Released: Psychologist’s Study Reveals Little-Known…”
  • 8. NOW: “Now You Can Stop Any Attacker”
  • 9. HERE’S: “Here’s How A 95-Pound Granny..”
  • 10. THESE: “These Three Very Italian Men Make a Pizza…”
  • 11. WHICH OF: “Which of these Hot Bodies Would YOU Like to Show Off”
  • 12. FINALLY: “Finally… A Self-Improvement Seminar..”
  • 13. LOOK: “Look! Now You Can Buy Cotton Candy…”
  • 14. PRESENTING: “Presenting the Easiest Way Ever to…”
  • 15. INTRODUCING: “Introducing the Only Ice Stand in Philly…”
  • 16. HOW: “How to Sing Like an American Idol in 90 Days”
  • 17. AMAZING: “Amazing New DVD Lowers Your Blood Pressure…”
  • 18. DO YOU: “Do You Know How to Stop a Wild Dog Attack”
  • 19. WOULD YOU: “Would You Trade $5 For x”
  • 20. CAN YOU: “Can You Be Sure Your Child Won’t…”
  • 21. IF YOU: “If You Hate Cleaning Your Pool, …”
  • 22. STARTING TODAY: “Starting Today You Can Dance 97% Better”

6) 12 Ways To Lure Your Readers Into Your Copy:

Example Headline: “Just Released! Psychologist’s Study Reveals Little-Known Speaking Patterns That Immediately Put Rude Salespeople in Their Place.”

1. Continue the Thought In The Headline: “You know the rude salespeople we mean. The ones with the big mouths…”

2. Ask a Question: “How would you handle yourself in a situation like this?”

3. Quote a Respected Authority: “According to communication psychologist R. Butler Sinclair, there…”

4. Give ‘Em a Free Taste: “The next time you’re confronted by a pushy salesperson, do this: Wait until…”

5. Challenge Them to Prove it Works: “Here’s what we want you to do. Read pages 8 and 9 of this book – no more. Then go..”

6. Start with a Story of Skepticism: “When we first received the manuscript from the author, we were skeptical…”

7. Tell What Others are Saying (Bandwagon Effect): Testimonials: “Nobody hates obnoxious salespeople more than I do..”

8. Play Reporter: “Philadelphia, PA – A New York psychologist…”

9. Get Personal With You, You, You: “Have you ever been hassled… Do you hate when people… Would you like to know… ”

10. Tell a Dramatic Story: “According to communication psychologist R. Butler Sinclair, there’s no longer any need for anyone to feel intimidated.”

11. Give Super-Detailed Specs: “This amazing new book – a hefty 8.5×11-inch leather-bound, hardcover beauty, is jamed packed over 443 pages..”

12. Lure Them With a Very Short Sentance: “Don’t you hate it?” “It makes me sick.” “”

7) 360-Degrees of Attention-Getting Power – Use circle-shaped ads instead of common square/rectangular.

8) The Reverse-Type Pitfall – Don’t do it. Reverse-type is light words on dark background.

9) Crush Your Competition With Extreme Specificity – Be extremely specific and descriptive when describing your product/service.

10) The Famous Ogilvy Principle – Start body copy with a Drop Initial. Massive oversized letter. Always run pics with captions!

11) The Psychology of Typefaces – Sans-serif for online (Arial, Verdana) and Serif for print (Helvetica, Times, etc.)

12) Insist on the Pro-Design Difference – Use a real graphic designer. Period.

13) The Power of Questions – They captivate and cause “open loops” in people’s brains.

14) The “Granny Rule” of Direct Mail – Relate to your reader. Talk to them like a friend and make them like you.

15) The Psychology of “Social Proof” – People believe testimonials. Always use them!

16) The Guillotine Principle – Use pictures of heads and faces in ads. Preferably smiling and relevant to the offer.

17) PVAs – The Easy Way to Boost the Power of Your Copy – Powerful Visual Adjectives. “Rake in $2500 Cash Weekly!”

18) Directing Mental Movies

  • 1. Visual words (sight)
  • 2. Auditory words (sound)
  • 3. Kinesthetic words (feeling or emotions)
  • 4. Olfactory words (smell)
  • 5. Gustatory words (taste)

19) Battling Human Inertia – Get people to take ACTION! 1. Make it easy to act. 2. Ask for action.

20) Establish Your Unique Selling Proposition – Tell them the real reason why they should PREFER you! Be serious and descriptive!

“Don’t try to be amusing. Spending money is a serious matter.”

21) Buy Your Own Island – Don’t pay for a full-page ad. Use a Half-Page Island, which is a centered half-page ad that takes up space.

22) Authority Positioning – Become an authority in your industry. Share all of your expertise in free reports and guest posts.

23) A Sales Letter in Survey’s Clothing – Ask questions about their relationship to your product. Thank you for participation is OFFER.

24) Power Your Ads With Pictures – Ads with 50% visuals = 30% recall rate. Ads with 75% visuals = 50% recall rate. Show the product + in use.

Seven Best Types of Photos:

  1. Children and babies.
  2. Mothers and babies.
  3. Groups of adults.
  4. Animals.
  5. Sports scenes.
  6. Celebrities.
  7. Food

25) Grab ’em With Grabbers – Use something like a dollar bill or shot of change to grab attention. Tailor to niche.

26) Long Copy vs. Short – Long copy consistently outsells short. 2-hour sales visit vs. 5-minute visit. Who closes more?

27) Offer Testing – Find out what they want and give it to them. If they don’t like your offer, change it!

28) Survey Power – What do people want? Ask them! Incentivize surveys. It all begins with research. Make it easy to reply.

29) Editorial Energizers – Make your ads look like News Editorials. “Camouflage”

“It has been found that the less an advertisement looks like an advertisement, and the more it looks like an editorial, the more readers stop and read.”

30) The Coupon Persuader – Add a broken “coupon style” border to graphic ads. People are conditioned. Use “Double Coupons!” Light yellow bg tint.

31) 7 Online Response Boosters

  1. Best Frequency for E-Mailing – 31-35% => 1/week – 18% => 2-3/week – 13% => 1/month
  2. CTRs – What to Expect – Declining for email. 1% for poorly crafted to rented lists. 20%+ for highly appealing offers to house list.
  3. HTML vs Text – 60% have the ability to see HTML. HTML gets 200% better response rate. Some people block HTML. Must split test.
  4. Best Way to Get Emails Opened – (60%+ is excellent open-rate) – 1. Familiar Sender. 2. Subject line must have their name. 3. Targetted offer.
  5. Ad Size and Readership – Leaderboards and Skyscrapers outperform regular banners. Large > small. DHTML > non-interactive.
  6. Animation Click-Through Booster – Animated = 15% higher than non-animated. Movement catches attention.
  7. Mystery Ads Score High Click-Throughs – but low conversions to sales. Poor targetting. Don’t confuse clicks for sales.

32) Multi-page Your Way to Success – (only applies to print)

33) Guarantees that Guarantee Higher Response – Use “Guarantees” generously. Buyers feel vulnerable. Use a long and strong guarantee.

34) The Psychology of Size – Bigger ads perform better.

35) The Psychology of Page and Section Positioning – Generally just doesn’t matter. Ad creative matters most.

“A good ad will get noticed irrespective of its position within the newspaper.”
-Roper Starch Worldwide

36) The Fantastic Four – (only applies to print)

37) Consumer Color Preferences and How Color Affects Readership – 1. Blue. 2. Red. 3. Green. The older the bluer. Best combo: Blue-Yellow then Blue-Red

38) The Psychology of Pricing – Odd pricing conveys value ($77.95) Even pricing conveys quality ($1,000) Helps justify sale for “teeterers”.

39) The Psychology of Color – “Darker is heavier” Apparent weight is higher as you get darker. White, yellow, green are lightest.

40) Wrap Your Ads in White – Wrap your ads with lots of white space. It garners way more attention. Pro tip.

41) Give Yourself a “Cleverectomy” – In advertising, it’s not clever to be clever. Sell the benefits. No clever word jokes.


22 Response Superchargers:

  • 1) Forget style – sell instead!
  • 2) Scream “Free Information!”
  • 3) Write short sentances and keep them reading.
  • 4) Use short, simple words.
  • 5) Write long copy.
  • 6) Boil it down, cut out the fluff!
  • 7) Stir up desire by piling on the benefits.
  • 8) Show what you’re selling – action shots are best.
  • 9) Get personal! Say: you, you, you.
  • 10) Use selling subheads to break up long copy.
  • 11) Put selling captions under your photos.
  • 12) Write powerful visual adjectives to create mental movies.
  • 13) Sell your product, not your competitor’s.
  • 14) Don’t hold back, give them the full sell now!
  • 15) Always include testimonials!
  • 16) Make it ridiculously easy to act.
  • 17) Include a response coupon to encourage action.
  • 18) Set a deadline to break inertia. (Expires: December 1, 2009)
  • 19) Offer a free gift for quick replies.
  • 20) Say the words “Order Now!”
  • 21) Offer free shipping.
  • 22) Boost response 50% or more with a “Bill me” or credit option.

9 Ways to Convey Value

  • 1) Scream “Sale!”
  • 2) Give them a coupon.
  • 3) Diminish the price: “Less than a cup of coffee a day.”
  • 4) Explain why the price is low. “Our boss ordered too many!”
  • 5) Amortize it: “Just $1.25 a day”
  • 6) Boost the value: Tell what it’s worth, not only what it costs.
  • 7) Tell how much others have paid (and were happy to do so!)
  • 8) Create a sense of scarcity with deadlines.
  • 9) Employ psychological pricing.

13 Ways to Make Buying Easy:

  • 1) Give your street, email, and Web address.
  • 2) Give your phone number.
  • 3) Provide street directions and parking advice.
  • 4) Say “It’s Easy to Order…”
  • 5) Accept phone orders.
  • 6) Accept mail orders.
  • 7) Accept online orders.
  • 8) Accept fax orders.
  • 9) Accept credit cards.
  • 10) Accept personal cheques.
  • 11) Get a toll-free phone number.
  • 12) Include a long, strong guarantee – longer than your competitions.
  • 13) Offer install payments for products more than $15 (“3 easy payments of just $10.99”), shown to boost response 15%.

46-Point “Killer Ad” Checklist:

I’ve take these out to hopefully avoid getting sued. You’ll have to get a copy of the book and boost my amazon affiliate account 😉


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