What a 1907 Cosmo Magazine Can Tell You About Knowledge Products
A number of years ago, I attended my very first country auction. It was so exciting to listen to the auctioneer and watch the flurry of bidding on each item. I decided to bid on an issue of Cosmopolitan magazine from 1907—and I won it!
Cosmopolitan magazine in 1907 wasn’t like the Cosmo of today. It was a family magazine full of short stories, essays, investigative journalism, and genteel illustrations. One thing it does share with its modern day counterpart, however, is its abundance of advertising.
As I flipped through the ads, I was struck by how many of them offered information enticements to drive business. With the advent of e-books, downloadable reports, digital audio, and all the other modern methods of information delivery, it’s easy to forget that marketing a business with knowledge products has been around for a long time.
Booklets, books, and magazines were a staple of marketing back then, and the same principles still work now. Take a look and see what 100-year-old lessons you can draw from them.
Click on any thumbnail to enlarge and read the ad.
A brilliant ad from start to finish, it offers a $1 book for free. A dollar was a lot of money in 1907. Pay attention to the use of testimonials, the list of subjects covered (an early version of the bullet point lists so common today) and the closing paragraph:
“Not like any other book ever published…can be had from no other source…This book is not an advertisement…”
Six Months Free
This enterprising fellow started a magazine that he sent for free for the first 6 months. Why do you think he would do that? This is the 1907 version of a free e-zine. Check out the personal branding with the large photo of the author.
“…every issue is filled with interesting, helpful articles…”
Here are two ads offering information products about the poultry business. The first charges 15 cents for a 220-page book on the care and feeding of chickens, but the text is pretty blah. The second book is free for the price of postage but — here’s the pitch — describes the publisher’s 30 varieties of chickens available for purchase.
Only Brainy, Steadfast Students, Please
Advertising as a profession was still in its infancy at the turn of the last century yet 100 years later good copywriters are still in demand. I love this line from the seventh paragraph:
“Powell graduates are preferred all along the line to the theoretical ad writers of the old-fogy school plan. “
So there, old fogies!
Look for the offer of two free books in the last paragraph.
What do you think? Is there anything 21st-century knowledge product marketers can learn from these antique ads?