Personal from the Editor
Plain Truth Magazine
August 1968
Volume: Vol XXXIII, No.8
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Personal from the Editor

   Personal from Herbert W Armstrong - ON MY MOST RECENT visit to our campus in England, I was accompanied by the Managing Editor of The PLAIN TRUTH, Dr. Hoeh. He was reading a book. It seems he is always reading a book, for he is a scholarly man. The book's title caught my eye. It was My Life in Advertising.
   That pricked interest. The first twenty years of my adult life were spent in advertising. When Dr. Hoeh laid down the book, I opened it at random. Casually I read a paragraph or two.
   Immediately I was startled!
   It sounded like my writing!
   I looked again in the forefront for the author's name. It was Claude C. Hopkins. Well, no wonder! It was the autobiography of one of the men who taught me how to write advertising. And, for that matter, how to write articles or anything else.
   Claude Hopkins, of course, never knew that! He never heard of me, I'm sure. Notwithstanding the fact that for seven years in Chicago I had contact with most leading advertising agencies including Lord & Thomas, which he headed. But my contacts were with space-buyers and contact men, and they never took me to Claude C. Hopkins.
   I entered the advertising field at eighteen. Mr. Hopkins was probably a generation older. He had arrived before I started. Our older subscribers know that I was born and reared in Des Moines, Iowa. There I procured a book in the public library titled Choosing a Vocation. It took me through a thorough self-analysis likes and dislikes, talents (if any) and faults, strengths and weaknesses. Also the requirements for success in the many different professions, occupations, businesses and jobs. It fit me into the advertising profession.
   It happened that my uncle, Frank Armstrong, was then the leading advertising man in Iowa. He steered my advertising life, first into the want-ad department of a daily newspaper; then three years on a national magazine with experience in both advertising and editorial divisions. Then I became a publishers' advertising representative for seven years in Chicago.
   All the while I was continuing my education in the school of practical experience, hard knocks and carefully selected books, over which I "burned the midnight oil." And part of that education was learning how to write.
   When Elbert Hubbard in those days the sage of East Aurora, New York was asked how he learned to write he replied: "I learned to write by writing."
   Yes, so did I but one learns also to do a thing by watching others do it. I learned, for example, to play tennis as much by watching such world champions as Bill Tilden, as by playing myself on tennis courts. So, in developing effective style in writing, I did three things. I spent much time in writing; I placed myself under the most competent instructors I could learn of, I studied the writing styles of those I deemed most successful.
   On my uncle Frank Armstrong's advice, I "hired myself a job" on the largest trade journal in America, The Merchants Trade Journal, in Des Moines. There I was trained under two men he considered the most expert advertising and merchandising men in the nation.
   Mr. R.H. Miles, the Advertising Manager, wrote in a fast-moving, short-sentence, staccato style. His ads produced amazing results. I saw much merit in his short-sentence, smooth-flowing, euphonious style. It was easy to read. It made his meaning clear. No one could fall asleep reading Miles' writing it rippled along too fast for drowsiness. Yet somehow I felt his style was too snappy too staccato. Too unnatural to sound sincere.
   Mr. A.I. Boreman, then Service Department head later owner and publisher on the other hand, wrote in a very intimate, personal, sincere style. His sentences were not so short, so rapidly smooth-flowing or so dynamic. So I strove to develop a style that was reasonably fast-moving, euphonious, smooth-flowing with sufficient short sentences to achieve this advantage yet with a sprinkling of enough longer sentences to avoid monotony, and at the same time making my writing personal, and sincere.
   But I devoted much time to studying the writing of still others. I read Elbert Hubbard's two magazines the Philistine and the Fra. I read many of his books and pamphlets. He was said to possess the largest vocabulary of any man since Shakespeare. So I had set out, at eighteen, to acquire a greater. But Mr. Boreman wrecked that ambition.
   "Herbert," he said, when I submitted copy for an ad filled with big words, "in advertising we are not writing for the exclusive readership of the highest-educated 2%. We want to reach that other 98% of the people, too. So throw out of your vocabulary all those big words you've been using. Make what you write simple, plain, easy to read by the WHOLE public. Acquire writing excellence by the unique, yet plain and simple way you group words together in sentence structure not by showing off your vanity in big words. Learn to write so that you make what you intend to say SO PLAIN that every reader will UNDERSTAND! Strive to acquire the largest possible vocabulary of common, simple words within the reading vocabulary of all."
   So that ended the use of big words. Others may, foolishly, try to impress audiences with their big words. But I take far greater satisfaction in receiving many thousands of letters, through the years, saying that I make what I write so PLAIN and so CLEAR that even a child can understand!
   In those days from 1910 there was a half-page philosophical commentary appearing in metropolitan Sunday newspapers, written by Herbert Kaufman. His writing attracted my attention, riveted my interest, and gave me much to think about. His writing, too, was super-effective. He had a way of driving home his points by use of continual emphasis where he desired readers to place it. He accomplished this by emphasizing many words in italic type others in all-capital letters. I noticed, too, that this unique process seemed to make his articles more READABLE. They made his writing stand out. A few, academically minded and inexperienced in winning people through writing, have criticized this emphasis in my writing. They judge excellence in writing by the theoretical, impractical, professorial criterion. I judge effectiveness by the practical RESULTS the responses of millions of people through many years of experience. So I ignore the pedantic criticism. I prefer to make truth easy to read, plain, and convincing to the greatest number.
   Then, there was ad-writer Claude C. Hopkins. He knew nothing of it, but he was one of my teachers, too. I knew little about him as a person. But I knew all about the ads he wrote. I read and studied them constantly. It seemed every issue of a mass-circulation magazine or newspaper had one or several of his ads. They stood out, uniquely distinctive from all others.
   For example, there were his ads for Palmolive shaving cream. They convinced me that Palmolive had what I wanted in shaving cream. I wanted abundant lather. The ads said: "Palmolive Shaving Cream multiplies itself in lather 250 times." I wanted quicker shaves. Hopkins wrote: "Chemists' tests show that within one minute the beard absorbs 15% of water." Then, "Palmolive maintains its creamy fullness for ten minutes on the face." And further: "the bubbles are strong and enduring, wedging in between the hairs to hold them erect for cutting."
   Whoever put words together like that? In short, simple sentences, in crisp, unique word-grouping, easy to read and fast-moving, fluent and euphonious, almost like poetry, these ads SAID SOMETHING! They induced MILLIONS to buy. That included me and I continued using that brand fifty years!
   Hopkins' ads built many businesses. From obscurity to giant industries even from bankruptcy to major success. Of course, there was merchandising analysis and effective planning. But MY interest was in his writing style.
   Among his clients, whose businesses were built by his methods and his advertising, were Pepsodent tooth paste, Quaker Oats and their Puffed Wheat and Puffed Rice. And Palmolive facial soap "the school-girl complexion" and "the skin you love to touch." There was Goodyear Tire advertising remember? "No-Rim-Cut Tires, 10% oversize." They made Goodyear number one so rivals had to "try harder." Then came what Hopkins called the anti-skid "All-Weather Tread." No one ever heard of Ovaltine, until Hopkins-written ads made it known, and used by millions. There were Blue-jay corn plasters.
   The Hopkins style in ad-writing contained these elements I looked for and strove to develop.
   I never knew Claude Hopkins but I knew well his writing style. Of course he was probably a generation older than I sitting on the pinnacle of advertising success nationally when I was a boy just learning. But I knew he was with the Lord and Thomas Advertising Agency, then one of the three biggest (later changed to Foote, Cone and Belding). It was often mentioned in advertising circles that his salary was $50,000 a year (later it was $100,000) the equivalent of $150,000 to $200,000 today. Yet it was said that he was one of the major owners, who took his earnings in salary instead of dividends. He probably became a multimillionaire.
   And so it was, that when I picked up this book Dr. Hoeh had laid down, the writing style rang a loud bell. It sounded strangely familiar. For I had absorbed at least a portion of the Hopkins style in writing.
   I had never known much about the man himself. So I began eagerly reading this autobiography. And I encountered many surprises. These inspired this Personal Column. I want to share with you some interesting things I read there.
   Claude Hopkins is, of course, dead now. He died in 1932 more than a year before The PLAIN TRUTH was born. He wrote his autobiography in 1927. In that year began my transition from advertising into the Ministry.
   Paradoxically, Hopkins' autobiography reveals that he switched from the ministry to advertising!
   His forebears had all been ministers. On graduating from high school, the ministry was his ambition. "I was," he stated, "an earnest Bible student." His Bible studies, he then revealed, consisted of memorizing Bible verses. An exciting game at home was repeating Bible verses, like in a spelling bee "going around in a circle," he wrote, "until all dropped out save one. I was always that one. I had memorized more verses than anyone I met." He knew, he said, several times more verses than the local minister. He spoke of it as "Bible competition."
   But there is a difference between being a Bible verse-memorizer and being a Bible student. He memorized hundreds of verses he didn't UNDERSTAND. I have never tried to memorize Bible verses. It is too easy inadvertently to misquote them. I am more interested in their MEANING their MESSAGE.
   Hopkins was writing sermons at the age of seven. He often spoke a short sermon in prayer meetings.
   But if he failed to come to UNDERSTANDING in the Bible, he did gain it in merchandising and advertising.
   So I would like to go through many of his experiences, starting at the beginning, that my readers may see the remarkable parallels and some contrasts with my own experience, a generation later.
   He inherited from his Scottish mother a conspicuous conservatism a rare commodity in advertising men. His mother and father were both college graduates, intellectually superior. So he inherited also a good mind. His mother taught him not only thrift, but also industry. He supported himself from age nine. His father died when he was ten.
   But Claude Hopkins himself never went to college. He says he spent those four years in the school of experience instead of the school of theory. As in my case, education was not neglected. I have stated that when I was eighteen, there was no worthwhile course in advertising or merchandising in any college or university. Hopkins corroborates that fact. He says "I know nothing of value which an advertising man can be taught in college. I know of many things taught there which he will need to UNLEARN (emphasis mine) before he can steer any practical course."
   How much have our readers heard me say about the need and difficulty of unlearning false knowledge and error! Yes, Claude Hopkins and I had much in common, as you will see!
   I have said that there was no course, in advertising or merchandising, being taught in any college when I was eighteen. That was in 1911. But the very next year two universities introduced such courses. I never followed up to determine their value. But Mr. Hopkins expresses the answer: "Of course we had no advertising courses in my school days... I am sure it would be better if we did not have them now. I have read some of these courses. They were so misleading, so impractical, that they exasperated me."
   His forebears, as I said before, had been ministers Baptists and, in his mother's case, Scottish Presbyterian. They were what we might call traditional Fundamentalist. To Hopkins as a maturing boy, they made religion oppressive. It was the kind of religion that made every joy a sin. People who danced, played cards, or attended the theatre, they said, were sinning.
   It is, then, easy to understand how he was turned from religion and the Bible. Not understanding what the Bible did say, and supposing it said what this brand of traditional Protestantism teaches, he soon lost faith, threw up his hands in disgust, and devoted himself to business. He did not realize that the Bible reveals a God of LOVE, who desires our greatest happiness. A God who set in motion inexorable and invisible laws to CAUSE happiness and joys. A God who denies us NO pleasure or joy that is not harmful to us or to others. It is man's rebellion against those right laws which have caused every trouble, every wail of human woe.
   In Ambassador College we teach one course which takes students through the biographical account of the life and teaching of Jesus. It occupies the first four books of the New Testament Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Students are usually amazed to see, with their own eyes, in their own Bibles, how utterly opposite are the teachings of this traditional "Christianity" today from those that Jesus taught how He observed customs, setting us an example, which "Christianity" today condemns, and how the Bible condemns the customs they now follow! We get bitter criticism for this from some "religious" sources but WE didn't write the Bible, and we only wish they, too, believed what it says!
   Hopkins had to work hard, with little time for play. He made his WORK a game. He had a logic that will sound strange today.
   "Which," he asks, "is work, and which play? If a thing is useful, they call it work. If useless they call it play. One is as hard as the other. One can be just as much a game as the other. In both there is rivalry. There's a struggle to excel the rest. All the difference I see lies in attitude of mind..."
   So, he reasoned, the love of work can be cultivated, just like the love of play.
   "So," he concludes, "it means a great deal when a young man can come to regard his life work as the most fascinating game he knows... The applause of athletics dies in a moment. The applause of success gives one cheers to the grave."
   I give you this, because I personally regard THE WORK to which I have been called in precisely that light. It is far more fascinating than any sport or game. And transcendently MORE IMPORTANT! It is my life, and nothing else counts, beside it! And I wish all our Co-Workers could feel the same for then it is exciting, satisfying, rewarding, above every joy we humans can experience!
   I have always said that a thing worth doing is worth doing RIGHT the very best you can do it. Claude Hopkins' father owned a newspaper. They often printed handbills. Often young Claude went to the advertiser and solicited the job of distributing to the 1,000 homes in their city. He was paid $2 for placing bills in each home. Other boys offered to do the job for $1.50. But they placed several bills in some homes, and skipped all those farther out. Claude asked advertisers to COMPARE RESULTS.
   His were far greater on test, so he gained a monopoly. DOING THE JOB HONESTLY, and THOROUGHLY, always PAYS! In these bills, as a boy, he gained his first experience in tracing results!
   He records another experience, and comments, "That taught me the rudiments of another lesson I never have forgotten." My autobiography shows I, too, was always learning lessons I retained and applied, in principle, to many problems.
   In my own autobiography I told of the pioneering survey I made of consumer attitude in 1914. It was in Richmond, Kentucky. Always I made surveys to learn the attitude of those to whom I would write, before writing advertising copy. For success, you must address others from knowledge of their viewpoint.
   Here again, Claude Hopkins and I, neither knowing the other did it, shared something vital in common.
   Hopkins mentions how hundreds of executives had talked to him about their projects nearly always seeing the problem solely from their own point of view. He says: "I have urged them to make tests, to feel the public pulse." Some, he says, did listen and profit. Others scorned the idea of learning the customers' mind. "Four times in five they failed," he said.
   You may begin to see why I was thrilled with Hopkins' book. I had never known about him, as a man. I had never known his methods I had merely read his ads, unknowing what led to them. And I hope some of these lessons both he and I learned may prove interesting and profitable to you.
   Continually, I kept reading time after time, in this story of Claude Hopkins' experiences, statements like: "This taught me another lesson." You who have read my own autobiography repeatedly encountered like expressions. Hopkins didn't go to college. Yet he was forever LEARNING! Yes, we seem to have had a deal in common!
   He said much about questioning people to learn customer attitudes toward any product or service. "We must submit all things in advertising," he wrote, "to the court of public opinion. This, you will see, is the main theme of this book. I own an ocean-going yacht, but do you suppose I would venture across an ocean without a chart or compass? If I have no such records, I take soundings all the way."
   There's an old saying in business: "Jones pays the freight; give Jones what he wants." That's "business!" But I, myself, am no longer in business. I know that "business" seldom gives Jones what he ought to have! Or what is BEST for him. Business and especially the advertising phase of business takes advantage of human nature. And human nature is a downward pull the innate tendency toward VANITY, envy, lust and greed. Human nature is SELF, and it is self-centered. God's Law is LOVE toward God and loving one's neighbor as himself. That's a law against human nature and human nature always violates that Law. Yet that is the Law which alone can be the CAUSE of happiness, success and joy.
   And I could go on and on, commenting on Mr. Hopkins' story of his advertising life (it does not cover his personal life). Continually, I found his experiences, his principles used, paralleled mine.
   He had, and used, all six of the first six of the seven laws of success. All successful men must.
   1) He had a definite goal. Of course the first law of success is the right goal, and this can come only by application of the seventh. But his goal did, as a goal must to launch a success, inspire ambition the burning DESIRE and incentive the motivation.
   2) The second law is EDUCATION preparation for achievement gaining the know-how to accomplish the purpose. He did not go to college. Probably he would never have gained the right knowledge for his goal there. But he did study. He did THINK. He did use his mind. He did constantly LEARN!
   3) Third I place physical HEALTH. Claude Hopkins appears to have had enough of it to reach the pinnacle in his profession yet at one point, he records, his health virtually broke down. Many an otherwise successful man finds his success retarded, interrupted, or prevented because of the lack of good health. Success in life requires vigorous action. I have observed that the man at the helm of most large enterprises is the most alert, clear and sharp-minded, highly animated and energetic man in his entire organization. This necessitates good physical health.
   4) Next I place DRIVE. Call it "push," "industry," or whatever it is that constant self-prod, driving one's self to continuous energetic action. The "boss" must have it, for those under him usually must be prodded and pushed. He is like the mainspring of a watch. This man Hopkins was always driving himself on into new merchandising and advertising problems. He was forever at it. I have had to be, too.
   5) The fifth law of success is RESOURCEFULNESS. The ability to size up and analyze problems to see one's way clearly through to solutions to hurdle obstacles and roadblocks that frustrate and stop lesser people. This man Claude Hopkins had this in superabundance, in solving advertising and merchandising problems.
   6) Sixth comes ENDURANCE Stick-to-it-iveness. That rare quality of the captain who will never give up his ship that determination and courage to stay with it after all others have lain down and given up. Many a person, with all other ingredients for success, has thrown up his hands and quit, when just a little more patience and determined staying with it would have turned apparently hopeless failure into overwhelming success. Hopkins had this quality, too. He records many times when he made mistakes virtually always in small ways because his characteristic caution refused to plunge big until ideas and plans had been tested in small areas. But these failures never discouraged. His clients were willing to quit, but not Claude Hopkins. He discerned the causes of temporary failures, and through that knowledge reasoned the way to succeed.
   7) But the one place where Claude C. Hopkins violated success laws was in this most important seventh Law contact with, reliance on, and the guidance and help of one's Creator. This is the basic Law all otherwise "successful" people have overlooked.
   I have known hundreds of men counted as successful in the world. They made money. They achieved recognition. They rose above others. Yet all this left them EMPTY for it was all VANITY. And the wisest man who ever lived described this as a "striving after wind." It NEVER PERMANENTLY SATISFIES. And the Creator says through the prophet Isaiah, "Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread" that is, for those things that are false values "and your labor for that which does not satisfy?"
   Nearly everyone strives, works, and spends money for that which leaves them empty UNSATISFIED. Even those looked on as SUCCESSFUL in the world usually find, in the end, they had a false idea of success. They started out with the WRONG GOAL. The first Law of Success is to set the RIGHT Goal not just any goal.
   How, then, can one know what really IS success? REAL success is the achieving of the TRUE VALUES. And few in this world know what they are. That's where this all-important 7th Law of Success comes in. Read it again. "Contact with, reliance on, and seeking the guidance and help of one's Creator!" This entails UNDERSTANDING OF, and actually living by that Creator's INSTRUCTION BOOK! There you find the TRUE VALUES revealed, as well as the WAY OF LIFE that will lead you to them, and make them YOURS to enjoy! That's the kind of Success that truly SATISFIES!

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Plain Truth MagazineAugust 1968Vol XXXIII, No.8