Book Category: Creative, Entrepreneurial, Sales, Writing, Presentations,

CA$HVERTISING: How to Use More than 100 Secrets of Ad-Agency Psychology to Make Big Money Selling Anything to Anyone (book summary)

Author: Drew Eric Whitman
Life Changing Principles
Quality of Writing
Overall Value
pros: Fantastic for any creative work, fun to read, fresh and informative
cons: No cons!
overall rating


Ah, the psychology of advertising. Drew Eric Whitman does a delightful job of summarizing a complex topic backed by extensive research into a set of boiled-down fast tips. The purpose? To find out exactly what makes people buy one can of beans as compared to a different can of beans.  And while a lot of his examples are for home-grown advertisements in the newspaper about pizza restaurants and lawn care, many of these principles are fascinating and easily applicable to other more complicated industries.


  • The secret to great ad copy is descriptive adjective-filled copy texts that beautifully describes what is being sold and plays on all of the senses to tempt viewers.
  • More copy can be better! Sometimes a lot better!
  • Ads should always touch on the things that humans naturally need/crave/desire, as per the psychological “eight desires.”
  • Always use imagery and examples to describe what is being sold in order to create a “movie” in the audience’s head.


  • Challenge yourself to make your copy a lot longer and more descriptive, with tons of adjectives.
  • The eight desires should always be considered in your copy.
  • Try several of the techniques from the book used in compelling ads, such as giving the audience a choice by showing pros and cons, or comparing the item being described against the competition to show differentiators.


Human beings are biologically programmed with the following eight desires:

  1. Survival, enjoyment of life, life extension.
  2. Enjoyment of food and beverages.
  3. Freedom from fear, pain, and danger.
  4. Sexual companionship
  5. Comfortable living conditions
  6. To be superior, winning, keeping up with the Joneses
  7. Care and protection of loved ones.
  8. Social approval.

The less imagery you convey, the less your message occupies consumers’ brains, the less likely it is that you’ll influence them.

“The fear appeal” is most effective when:

  1. It scares the hell out of people
  2. It offers specific recommendations for overcoming the fear-aroused threat.
  3. The recommended action is perceived as effective for reducing the threat.
  4. The message recipient believes that he or she can perform the recommended action.

There are two routes to attitude change: the central route and the peripheral route. Here’s the difference:

The central route: Persuading using logic, reasoning, and deep thinking.

The peripheral route: Persuading using the association of pleasant thoughts or positive images, or “cues.”

When you get someone to think deeply about something, and you persuade them to arrive at a conclusion, they will adopt their decision as a result of their own thinking, protect it, and defend it against (competitors’) attacks as if it were their “baby” –their “brainchild.”

Featuring colorful examples causes what I call “self-demonstration,” and boosts your prospects’ desire to own and motivation to buy.

I want you to load your copy with pronouns, such as you me, I, he, she, him, they and them. Be especially generous with the words you and I. Pronouns give your copy a warm, human flavor that people notice instantly.

I call it extreme specificity, and your competitors will curse you for it. It’s simple and here’s what you do: From this day on, start being extremely specific every time you describe your products or services. conducted several tests to see what impact copy length has on a website’s conversion rate. Results: Long copy outperformed short copy in all three of their rests.