Claude Hopkins was one of the most famous advertising
copy writers of the early 1900's.
He wrote two books in his career, "My Life in Advertising", and "Scientific Advertising".
To this day, Claude Hopkins is cited by advertising people
as one of the most influential men ever in that field.
His story influenced me greatly in my decision to initially
start my own business.
Today I thought I'd share a portion of his story with you....
Hopkins got his start in business not as an advertising
man, but as an assistant bookkeeper. At a meager salary
of $4.50 per week.
Bookkeeping was only a minor part of the job.
He was expected to sweep the floors, clean the windows,
and act as general errand boy for the entire office.
The big salaries at that time were paid to the salespeople,
the people that brought in the orders.
They showed profits. And could command a reasonable
share of the profits.
The bookkeeper was an expense for the business. In
business, expenses are kept down.
Hopkins saw the difference between the profit-earning
and the expense side of a business, and he resolved to
graduate from the debit side.
Shortly before Christmas, Hopkins suggested a way
of selling the Bissell carpet sweepers by mail.
The company manager laughed at Hopkins.
"Wherever you go you will find our sweepers covered
with dust, with dealers ready to give them away."
"The only way to sell a new lot is to use a gun. Get
a man in a corner and compel him to sign an order."
"When you talk of selling such men by letter, I can
But a sales pamphlet Hopkins wrote won the manager's
The manager consented to mailing five thousand letters. That trial brought the company over a thousand orders.
And in that fashion, Hopkins to graduated from the expense account to the side of money-earners.
The day before Christmas that year, company president
M.R. Bissell called Hopkins to his office.
"I have some advice to give you", M.R. Bissell said.
"You have many of the qualifications which make for
success, including the selling instinct."
"You are too good a man to work for me. You shall start
out for yourself, as I did"
Bissell told Hopkins something of his history.
He told Hopkins how he refused every salary offer, every
safe anchorage, and struggled alone.
And how as a result... he had finally arrived on the road
Bissell ended by saying:
"I am selfish enough to want you to stay here. If you do,
your salary will be much increased next year. But I am fair
enough to advise you not to stay."
"Don't let someone else glean profits from your hard work
But Hopkins stayed.
The Bissell Carpet Sweeper company become one of
the largest concerns in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
He sold more carpet sweepers with his one penny
letters than fourteen salesmen on the road combined. Soon after, he was married. It became increasingly
difficult to start on any venture of his own.
Later, Hopkins called his decision to not venture out
on his own, "My Great Mistake" in one of his books.
"Thus I tied myself to a lifetime of service as an employee."
"I watched some of my co-workers start out for themselves,
largely on lines I taught them."
"The real reason I did not [strike out on my own] is the
fact I never had sufficient confidence in myself."
"So for years, I watched others make money, while I
gained only a modicum of fame for myself."
I initially started on my own in business, in part,
because I didn't want to look back after thirty years
and say, "What if?"
I didn't want to watch others around me making money
while I just sat back and watched.
I've never regretted that decision.
My question to you today:
What about you?
Are you content with watching others glean the
profits from your hard work and talent?
Or are you ready to strike out on the road to
P.S. Are you thinking of starting your own mall
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