I found the following summary of “Breakthrough Advertising” on the site http://www.keywordsblogger.com/breakthrough-advertising-a-summary-of-eugene-schwartzs-classic-marketing-text/. It is such good content that I am dropping it here for my future reference.

Breakthrough Advertising: How to Write Ads That Shatter Traditions and Sales Records is an absolute classic in the field of marketing.

Its publisher claims that the ideas in Breakthrough Advertising have generated millions of dollars in revenue for its readers, and this is one of the few books that I would believe that claim.

I highly recommend you get a copy from your public library (if you can find a copy), or buy it from BottomLineSecrets

But if you don’t have the $95 to splash out on a copy, I’ve summarized the book in this post. If you like this summary, please leave a comment!

First job of the copywriter is a thorough analysis of a market:

How to channel mass desire onto a product:

  1. Choose the most powerful desire that can be applied to a product
  2. Acknowledge that desire, reinforce it, offer a means to satisfy it – in a single statement in the headline of the ad
  3. Take the features/performances of the product and show your prospect how these product performances inevitably satisfy that desire

Once the “theme” of the advertisement is determined, the process of expressing that theme begins:

Questions to ask in developing a headline:

  1. What is the mass desire that creates this market?
  2. How much do these people know about the way your product satisfies this desire? (Their state of awareness)
  3. How many other products have been presented to them before yours? (Their state of sophistication)

States of Awareness in a Market:

In this case, the headline need state little more than the name of the product and a bargain price

The headline should display the name of the product – either in the headline or in a prominent logo – and use the remainder of the headline to point out its superiority

Three steps in developing the headline:

  1. Name the desire and/or its solution in the headline
  2. Prove that the solution can be accomplished
  3. Show that the mechanism of that accomplishment is contained in your product

Example headlines:

“Light a lucky, and you’ll never miss sweets that make you fat”
“Who else wants a whiter wash – with no hard work?”
“To men who want to quit work some day”
“Now! Run you car without spark plugs!”
“Who ever heard of 17,000 blooms from a single plant?” 

Three steps in developing the headline:

  1. Name the need and/or its solution in the headline
  2. Dramatize the need so vividly that the prospect realizes just how badly he needs the solutions
  3. Present your product as the inevitable solution

The approach in this stage is essentially to call your market together in the headline. You are writing an identification headline. You are selling nothing, promising nothing, satisfying nothing. Instead, you are echoing an emotion, an attitude, a dissatisfaction that picks people out from the crowd and binds them together in a single statement.

States of Sophistication in a Market

If you are first in your market:

If you are second in your market, and the direct claim is still working:

The third stage of sophistication – prospects have heard all the claims, all the extremes:

The fourth stage of sophistication:

38 Ways to Strengthen a Headline

How to Write Body Copy

The purpose of body copy is to alter the prospect’s vision of reality, to create a new world – a world in which your product emerges as the fulfilment of the dominant desire that caused this person to respond to your headline.

Three dimensions of thought and feeling:

  1. Desires. These are the wants, needs, cravings, thirsts, etc. that drive your prospect.
  2. Identifications. These are the roles your prospect wants to play in life, the traits he wants to build, etc. Your task is put them directly behind your product, and to make him feel part of a select group when he becomes a user of that product.
  3. Beliefs. These are the opinions, prejudices, fragments of knowledge, and conceptions of reality that your prospect lives by.

Believing is a process – a process of fitting new facts into certain established patterns of thought and conviction. Beliefs form a filter through which your product information must pass or be rejected. You start with these beliefs as a base, and build up using your prospect’s logic to prove that your product satisfies his desires, to prove that your product works, that his kind of people rely on your product.

7 Techniques of Breakthrough Copy

1. Intensification

2. Identification

It is the desire of your prospect to define himself to the world around him. Every new role that he covets gives you one more mass desire to harness for your product

Two kinds of roles (find out what roles prospects identify with):

Every social role that we achieve in life is immediately translated into those possessions which we believe express that position most clearly

3. Gradualization

This is the process of starting with the facts that your prospect is willing to accept, and leading him logically and comfortably through a gradual succession of more and more remote facts – each of which he has been prepared to accept.

a. Ask a question to get the reader to self-select as a member of your audience.

b. Detailed identification – detail symptoms or problems that are your prospect’s reasons for desiring your product

c. Contradiction of present (false) beliefs (e.g. “I know you think this is true; but I’m going to show you how it’s false”)

d. Use the language of logic. Example logic statements:

This has been proven by thousands…
Sound impossible? Not at all. It’s actually as simple as…
Here’s why…
And, most important, is the fact that…

4. Redefinition (how to remove objections to your product)

The purpose of redefinition is to redefine the drawbacks of a product, so the perceived drawbacks don’t kill a sale.

Three general categories of drawback:

1. Product is too complicated

2. Product is not important enough

Remedy this by escalating the importance of the product: broaden the horizon of benefits of the product; redefine the role that the product plays in the prospect’s life; widen the area of reward that your product yields to the prospect – showing him that it enters into dozens of vital situations every day, paying off for him when he might least expect it.


Yes. You pay $2,000…$3,000…$4,000 for your car. And a single 99 cent part robs you of the real power and enjoyment that a car should give you.

3. Product simply costs too much

Problem is that the product is being compared with other products in the same field

Solution: switch the comparison by relating the product to some other, more expensive standard – make the product cheap

5. Mechanization (how to verbally prove that your product does what you claim)

Amount of mechanism copy that is necessary depends on the State of Awareness of the target audience

Stage One: name the mechanism

Stage Two: describe the mechanism

Stage Three: Feature the mechanism

6. Concentration (how to destroy alternate ways for your prospect to satisfy his desire)

Concentration is the careful, logical, documented process of proving ineffectual other ways of satisfying your prospect’s desire.

By pointing out the weaknesses in the competition, emphasizing their disservice to your prospect, and then proving to him that your product gives him what he wants without them.

If you can only attack another product – without showing at the same time, by comparison, how your product provides what the other lacks – then say nothing at all

Tacticsto accomplish Concentration:

7. Camouflage (how to borrow conviction for your copy)

Purpose of Camouflage is to borrow believability from all the places in society where it is stored up

Tactics for borrowing believability:

Mood adaptations.

How to achieve believability. Use:

  • Proof
  • Statistics
  • Testimonials
  • Quotes from authority figures
  • Tests
  • Trends (i.e. social proof)
  • Seals of approval/authority
  • Awards won

How to transition from one paragraph to another:

How to build momentum in your copy:

They paid up to $22.50 a person to learn priceless techniques like these:
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Here is the information you will find in this book:
Let me explain.
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