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Reality In Advertising by Rosser Reeves – 5 Stars

Reality In Advertising by Rosser Reeves

This is considered to be a classic market text as it introduced or at least popularised the concept of unique selling propositions.

Does it stand the test of time?

In my review posted on Amazon.co.uk, I rated the book at the Five Stars level. This means I think it is Excellent.

Here is my book review.

A marketing classic and a delight to read

This is the famous book credited with popularising the concept of the Unique Selling Proposition. It was first published in 1961. Can a book that is fifty years old have anything to teach us about advertising and marketing?

You bet it does. It starts with perhaps the most powerful statement I’ve read in a business book.”It cost $1,000,000,000 to write this book. We spent that much of our clients’ money and made many mistakes to isolate these principles.” One billion dollars – in 1961! Who knows how much that would be in today’s money.

Rosser Reeves was the chairman of the Ted Bates & Company advertising agency which under Reeves stewardship became the fourth largest in the world.

It is a delight to read. The author has a way with words and whilst the language may seem a little quaint in places, the chapters are short and the content very interesting.

I get the impression the book was written for three reasons:

  1. To get the best practices of marketing and advertising into the hands of business owners and managers.
  2. As a rebuke to the charlatans who peddle the myths of advertising and cause businesses to waste a fortune on publishing ineffective marketing campaigns. The sort who think advertising is about creativity rather than selling. Worrying this still happens today and small businesses get a very bad impression of advertising from the huge brands.
  3. As a defence of advertising to its critics who see the waste caused by the mad men in point two and believe that all advertising is a waste of time and money.

The original aim of the USP is to plant one main idea into the mind of consumers and a clear proposition (this is what you’ll get) that is different from what’s available from competitors but is powerful enough to motivate people to buy. There isn’t as much in the book as I was expecting about the USP and how you can create or craft a compelling one. To that extent the book was a disappointment but it made up for it in the power of the other ideas.

There are two critical measures to focus on with your advertising:
1 – Penetration: The percentage of people who remember your current advertising.
2 – Usage Pull: The percentage of customers among people who remember versus don’t remember your advertising. This can be negative for a bad ad.

You get marketing leverage when both measures work in your favour rather than for competitors. The book then goes on to explain how you can improve these two measures.

Like Tested Advertising Methods by John Caples and Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins, this is a classic marketing text that’s well worth revisiting.

It is available to buy from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.


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