I will be candid. I purchased Cashvertising after reading its rave reviews on Amazon. One of the few marketing books that have a 5-star rating on Amazon.
The book borders on consumer psychology and outlines some great insights – the author calls them secrets – into the world of copywriting and advertising.
If you are a newbie, then, this book can add to your growing knowledge base.
If you are a marketing veteran, who has been around and done a lot, there is not much for you to glean from this book.
Drew Eric Whitman started his advertising career at age 11, asserts that many in the advertising industry are bereft of these secrets and hence, flush the advertisers’ money down the toilet. I disagree.
The problem is that Cashvertising was published in 2008 when social networks and digital media were still in their nascency.
With the proliferation of social and blogging sites in the last decade, many of the Cashvertising secrets have not remained secrets. A few of them related to print advertising may not be relevant anymore.
That said, I would have loved a revised and updated edition. If there were one, I am sure, Drew would have addressed the gaping holes in the existing version.
On the bright side, the author practices exactly what he preaches.
Cashvertising reads like a breeze. Broadly, there are four chapters:
- What People Really Want
- How To Get Inside Their Heads: The 17 Foundational Principles of Consumer Psychology
- Ad-Agency Secrets: 41 Proven Techniques For Selling Anything to Anyone
- Hot Lists: 101 Easy Ways To Boost Your Ad Response
If you are paying attention, you would see how Chapters 2-4 read more like blog titles.
For the benefit of readers, I will be reviewing each chapter in detail:
Chapter 1. What People Really Want
Drew sets the foundation for the rest of the book in the opening chapter.
He emphasizes upon the obvious yet often ignored truth that most consumers are only concerned about how your product or service affects their lives. The rest is all fluff.
Your advertising must reflect this obvious truth.
He further states that when communicating with the potential buyers, make sure you tap into their ingrained emotions.
As per Drew Whitman, human beings are congenitally wired with the following 8 desires. He collectively calls them The Life-Force 8:
- Survival, enjoyment of life
- Enjoyment of food and beverages
- Freedom from fear, pain and danger
- Sexual companionship
- Comfortable living conditions
- To be superior, winning and keeping up with the Joneses
- Care and protection of loved ones
- Social approval
If you are a blogger, the LF-8 could be your key to unlocking success.
Either you build your blog around one or more of these inherent needs or you touch upon them regularly in your posts.
Chapter 2. How To Get Inside Their Heads: The 17 Foundational Principles of Consumer Psychology
This is the chapter where the rubber meets the road.
Drew takes his years of experience and condenses it into one comprehensive chapter.
It’s a great start for anyone who wishes to understand the underlying principles of consumer psychology.
Loads of insights into ‘why‘ people buy stuff and how you can deploy the same principles to strengthen your sales pitch or ad copy.
Of the 17 principles, I found the following principles the most important and relevant:
- The Fear Factor. You can leverage fear in your copywriting. However, your product must be the solution to the fear you are selling. Otherwise, it’s not going to fly.
- The Bandwagon Effect. People feel the need to belong. If using your product makes your customers a part of a like-minded community or a community they look up to, there is a high chance your product will be a big hit.
- The Inoculation Theory. In a pre-emptive strategy, present your competition’s expected criticism of your products in a weakened fashion to your customers. When your competition does move in, your customers will process its claims through your preset filters.
- Shortcuts to Persuasion. Inspired by Robert Cialdini’s Influence theory, Drew wants you to use his six principles (reciprocity, authority, comparison, liking, consistency, and scarcity) when you are writing a copy to persuade others.
- Examples vs Statistics. Examples knock statistics for a loop. The reason why examples or stories work is they require much less mental effort to process than cold, hard stats.
- Dual-Role Persuasion. Present both sides of the argument as you defend and recommend your own. Compliment your competition and then tell your audience how you are even better. Works.
Chapter 3. Ad-Agency Secrets: 41 Proven Techniques For Selling Anything to Anyone
A mixed bag, really.
The author claims that top ad agency professionals, marketers and consumer psychologists worldwide apply and practice these secrets in the real world.
I am not contesting his claims. The problem that I see is that some part of the chapter is not in sync with the times.
How many marketing professionals – budding and seasoned – today, do you think would be interested in knowing the print ad specifications?
He talks about ad size, consumer color preferences, the psychology of colors, keeping more white space around your ads, buying multi-page ads, etc. Most of it makes sense.
In an age, when print business is on the decline and everybody and their grandma are going online, I am not sure readers want to know the secrets of cracking a successful print ad.
That’s the reason why I said that an updated edition could have plugged many such shortcomings had it transpired.
Chapter 4. Hot Lists: 101 Easy Ways To Boost Your Ad Response
This short chapter summarizes the key learnings from the rest of the book in bullet points.
You have sections such as ‘9 Ways to Convey Value’, ’11 Ways to Boost Coupon Returns’, ’46-Point Killer Ad Checklist’, and more.
Basically, if you don’t want to read the rest of the book, you can make do with this 5-pager.
Overall Cashvertising is a satisfactory read.
Some of the insights stick because they are platform-agnostic and apply whether you are writing a copy for print, tv, blog, or social platforms.
Its 5-Star rating on Amazon, however, surprised me.
Unless all those who read and rated the book were greenhorns – an audience I truly believe can amply benefit from Cashvertising, I don’t see a decipherable rationale for such high ratings.
The traditional places to advertise are fast becoming extinct.
Large advertisers equipped with batteries of marketing consultants are unlikely to pay heed to Drew Whitman’s advice. Small businesses have switched allegiance to online because they are getting more bang for the buck.
Since Drew Whitman remains active in marketing circles, I hope he has an updated edition in his mind. It’s high time his readers got one.