How Claude Hopkins took Schlitz Beer from 8th in Sales
to First in America

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With one advertising campaign!

I don't know how many of you have ever heard of Claude Hopkins. Born in 1866, Claude was the creator of modern advertising. If you're in my business and you haven't studied this guy's work, you have no business being a copywriter.

Beer and Advertising

However, as much as I'd love to tell you all about Claude, I want to tell you a specific story about Claude Hopkins and Schlitz Brewing Company. In the early 1900's, Schlitz was in trouble. They were running well behind several beer companies and couldn't seem to make any headway or gain ground on any of them.

(I've read that they were anywhere from 8th all the way down to 15th in beer sales. Either way, they were hurting.) So Schlitz hired Hopkins, who was already reaching legendary status in advertising, to create their next advertising campaign.

Everyone sold beer the same way

At the time, all brewing companies advertised the same way. They all yelled and screamed in advertisements about how pure their beer was. In fact, some companies even took out full page ads so they could get the word "PURE" in bigger letters.

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But it didn't mean anything to the public because all beer companies claimed their beer was pure. Now, Hopkins didn't believe in doing anything until he really understood the products and the people who bought them. So Schlitz brought him out to their brewery for a tour.

Hopkins finds out what "pure" really meant

On the tour he was shown plate-glass rooms where beer was dripping over pipes. Asking why they did this, Hopkins was told that those rooms were filled with filtered air, so the beer could be cooled without impurities.

Next, he was shown huge expensive filters filled with white-wood pulp that provided a superior filtering process. The manufacturer then went on to explain how they cleaned every pump and pipe, twice daily to assure purity. And also how each bottle was sterilized not once or twice, but four times before being filled with beer.

Then, Hopkins was shown the 4,000 foot deep artesian wells dug to provide the cleanest and purest water available, even though the brewery sat right on the shore of Lake Michigan. (At this time Lake Michigan was not polluted and could have provided clean water.)

Finally, Hopkins was led into a laboratory and shown the mother yeast cell that was a product of 1,200 experiments to bring out the robust flavor. And he was told all the yeast used in making Schlitz beer was developed from that original yeast cell.

The Revelation

"My God," Hopkins said, "Why don't you tell people in your advertising about all these steps you are taking to brew your beer?"
But, the Schlitz people told him, "All companies brew their beer about the same way."

"Yes," Hopkins countered, "but the first one to tell the public about this process will gain a big advantage." Hopkins went on to create an advertising campaign based on what he'd learned from the tour. Essentially, he told the story that every brewery could have; but didn't.

If you'd like to have a website that sells like Claude's campaign, you should call me right now at 612-226-7667 to get a free consultation on turning your website into a 24/7 sales machine. You've got nothing to lose and a whole lot of business to gain.

To return to our article,

The Results?

Within six months, Schlitz became the number one selling beer in America. Why? Because rather than telling people the same thing everyone else in their industry was saying, they actually explained what it meant and gave people a reason to care.

What does this mean to you?

So I ask you; does everyone in your industry say pretty much the same thing?

"We use only the freshest ingredients!"

"Our computers have the fastest chips in the industry!"

"Our CPAs have twenty years of experience!"

"We have access to the lowest travel rates from the airlines!"

Think about what that really means to your customers. Think about telling people why that's important, how much work you go through to get them these things, and why it's important to you and for them.

The magic words for this are "so what?"

Next time you come up with a great new "thing" to tell people, remember to ask, "so what." Because if you don't, your potential customers might.

If you follow this link, you'll find one of the ads that Claude Hopkins wrote for Schlitz Beer. This ad is still studied in the marketing courses at Harvard Business School. And while you read it, think about the very successful Sam Adams beer commercials

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