John E. Kennedy

Why is advertising so important?

Because today there are no new ideas, just different angles on the original ideas. And the old ideas were the best.

The early pioneers of marketing left us with great legacies, ones which all the present day marketers use to their advantage.

And you should do too.

I'll begin this article where I left off in the previous one - when John E.Kennedy just arrived on the scene.

1904 It was on one May evening that a former Canadian mountie, John E. Kennedy, sent a note to the head of Lord and Thomas.

This is what the note said:

"I am in the saloon downstairs. I can tell you what advertising is. I know you don't know. It will mean much to me to have you know what it is and it will mean much to you. If you wish to know that advertising is, send the word "yes" down by the bell boy.


John E. Kennedy"

Ambrose Thomas, the head of Lord and Thomas, dismissed the note as arrogance. But his junior partner, Albert Lasker, spotted it and wanted to know more.

This was Lasker's reply:


Albert Lasker

Lasker met Kennedy that first evening. And what Kennedy had to say changed the face of advertising - and it still applies today.

His statement was: "Advertising is Salesmanship-in-Print." It is a definition that no-one has been able to better to this day.

Here's our understanding of Salesmanship-in-Print:

There is no difference between ads, websites, newsletters, brochures, press releases, or being sat in front of your customers - face to face.

And to succeed at selling in print it is necessary to study others that have made a living at it, past and present.

98% of marketers have no idea of how to sell in print.

Therefore, study direct response marketers. They are the only ones who can prove what works. Direct Marketing, by definition, is a method that sells its products without sales people.

It is always measurable. And the top direct marketers do measure it.

To succeed you need to make your sales process do the same as if you were sat right next to your customer.

Your website, sales letter, press release, newsletter, brochure, or anything else in print has to connect with your prospect's emotional hot buttons to persuade him or her to take some sort of action.

Your advertising should not be about image or branding, it should be about telling your own unique story in a language that appeals to your prospects needs, wants, desires, fears and vanity.

Lasker related to what Kennedy talked about. He too had been searching for many years to the answer that Kennedy had now given him.

Consequently, Kennedy was hired by Lord and Thomas and became the highest paid copywriter of the time. A massive $52,000 a year (some say even more).

Lord and Thomas became a training ground for copywriters as Lasker got Kennedy to write all of his principles into a series of lessons called: "The Book of Advertising Tests."

Kennedy left Lord and Thomas in 1907 but returned in 1911 as a highly paid freelance copywriter. And in 1912, his Book of Advertising Tests was re-published as ,"Reason Why Advertising" and in 1914 he wrote his second book

"Intensive Advertising."

John E. Kennedy's "Reason Why Advertising" became a big hit. But if you think about it, what a great title. It seems obvious that you should give your customers a reason to buy your product.

But lots of advertisers, even today, do not. They merely say: "Buy my product."

They are making a big mistake of not explaining: "Buy my product because ..."

Are you making these mistakes in your marketing?

1903 Walter Dill Scott produces his first book: "Theory of Advertising."

1906 WK Kellogg places his first ad for Corn Flakes in six mid-western newspapers. By 1915 he is spending $1 million on national ads.

1907 Kennedy leaves Lord and Thomas to "go it alone."

Lasker was left in the lurch. How could he find a replacement for a man like Kennedy? He must have been a hard act to follow.

In Part 3 of this series we'll detail how Lasker did indeed replace Kennedy with a man who made an enormous contribution to the world of advertising.

Till then, we suggest you get hold of a copy of Kennedy's manuscript. It'll make a difference to the way you think about writing your sales copy.

Peter Woodhead is the author of a package of Public Domain works on advertising and marketing that reveal secrets that only the top gurus have had access to - until now. These materials and details of how to sign up for his mini-ecourse can be found at