Mornings With Maxwell Sackheim

Paul Talbot Copywriting

Maxwell Sackheim has upended my early morning reading habits.

Before sunrise, every single morning, I’ve been reading the Maxwell Sackheim advertisement for the Sherwin Cody School of English.

All of us who write copy know about this ad.  Many of us have studied it extensively, exhaustively reverse engineering its structure, which is both brilliant and beautiful.

If you are not familiar with this Maxwell Sackheim advertisement for the Sherwin Cody School of English, click here to see it.  Those of us who are copywriters generally agree that it is one of the top five ads ever written.

After all, it ran for more than forty years, and with minor tweaking, kept pulling in responses.

This morning, I was burrowing into the method Sackheim used to shift from the presentation of the problem to the introduction of the solution.

Eight different and specific examples of the problem are presented to the reader in the first paragraph.  Each example is easily relatable.  The reader’s deficiencies in speaking English are not mocked or taunted.  The reader is not spoken down to.  Rather, the prospect is embraced, and shown why the deficiency exists.

Maxwell Sackheim wrote…

“The reason for the deficiency is clear.  Sherwin Cody discovered it in scientific tests which he gave thousands of times.   Most persons do not write or speak good English simply because they never formed the habit of doing so.”

The way Sackheim introduces his proof and presents a “reason why” is as powerful as it is simple.

This method plunges us deeper into the copy.  We are swept up, eager to learn more about these thousands of “scientific tests.”   The inferred promise of more information to bolster this proof is immediately paid off under the subhead, “What Cody Did At Gary.”

This was the perfect position for the subhead.  We skim, and immediately we’re assured that this general statement of proof is about to be paid off with specific facts.

Countless copywriters have weighed in on why this ad worked so well.  The great John Caples pointed out the power of the word “These” in the headline, which promised the prospect specific information.

There are dozens more brilliant aspects of this ad.  Everything is right.  The structure is flawless, and requires just five simple subheads.

Why Most People Make Mistakes

What Cody Did At Gary

100% Self-Correcting Device

Only 15 Minutes a Day

FREE  – Book On English

Early this morning, reading the Sackheim ad once again, what struck me was the consistent and measured ease of transition.  I was intrigued with the grace Sackheim used to encourage the reader to move forward.

He created invisible and irresistible momentum.

Before you know it, you want to read the free booklet offered, “How You Can Master Good English in Just 15 Minutes a Day.”

You are clipping the coupon, and mailing it off to…

The Sherwin Cody School of English
8811 B & O Building
Rochester 4, New York