Summary of Cashvertising by Drew Eric Whitman

  • Post category:Summaries
  • Post last modified:September 18, 2023

Summary: 16 minutes

Book reading time: 4h25

Score: 8/10

Book published in: 2008

Access the Summary Database


  • People have roughly ten desires in life.
  • They buy products and services to fulfill these desires.
  • The first use of any product happens inside the customer’s mind.
  • You need to understand what’s in the customers’ minds to write your ad.

Table of Contents

What Cashvertising Talks About

Cashvertising is a book written by Drew Eric Whitman. The author explains how to create ads that sell. The book teaches which fonts to use for copy, which colors are best on the Internet, how to design an ad, how to use adjectives in the copy, how to structure a sales letter, and what makes a headline great! It’s an excellent introduction to copywriting.

It was the first copywriting book I have ever read. I loved it the first time, but it’s not as good as Copywriting Secrets.

Find below a summary.


Buy the book here.

Summary of Cashvertising by Drew Eric Whitman

The purpose of copywriting is to persuade through writing. To do so, you must follow a series of steps and rules so that people buy what you sell.

People care the most about themselves. Your ad should be a summary of what your product will do for them.

People’s deep desires are:

  • Survival, enjoyment of life, life extension
  • Enjoyment of food and beverage
  • Freedom from fear, pain, and danger
  • Sexual companionship
  • Comfortable living conditions
  • Winning, being superior
  • Care and protection of loved ones
  • Social approval

People buy because of emotions and justify their purchase with logic.

Eg: Aure bought a watch because he wanted to feel more sophisticated. After he bought it, Aure told himself “it will be more practical to know what time it is than my phone”, which is obvious BS. Aure bought the watch due to his emotions.

Force an emotional response by touching on a basic want or need.

The longer the copy is, the better it is. The most logical the copy is, the better it is.

People have nine other secondary desires

  • To be informed
  • Curiosity
  • Cleanliness of body and surroundings
  • Efficiency
  • Convenience
  • Dependability/quality
  • Expression of beauty and style
  • Economy/profit
  • Bargains

Desires work according to a specific pattern:

  1. Tension: the customer has a problem. Eg: hunger.
  2. Desire: the customer seeks to fix the problem. Eg: how to get food.
  3. Action: the customer fixes the problem and satisfies the desire. Eg: order Uber Eat and stops being hungry.

You need to know which tension your service/product solves.

The first use of any product is inside the consumers’ minds.

When we read about a product or service, we imagine ourselves using it and make a decision based on this mental movie.

17 foundational principles of consumer psychology

Principle 1: Fear sells

Fear creates stress (tension) which demands something to be done about it. Use fear only if your product offers the appropriate solution for a fearful situation.

Fear appeal is most effective when:

  • it scares a lot
  • it offers recommendations to overcome the threat
  • the action is effective in reducing the threat
  • the buyer believes he can do it himself

Principle 2: Ego-morphing

When your product is associated with an image or person that the buyer wishes to become (luxury industry).

Principle 3: Transfer: credibility by osmosis

Transfer is a strategy that involves using people, groups, or institutions to persuade your prospect that your product or service is acceptably endorsed.

Eg: 90% of dentists would recommend this toothpaste.

Humans are lazy and will avoid thinking at all costs. If someone they respect has already done the thinking for them, they’ll simply make the same decision.

Principle 4: The Bandwagon Effect—Give Them Something to Jump On

Membership in some groups is still critically important for our happiness.

We often wear shirts and caps proclaiming our associations, which makes us feel accepted, valuable, and important.

There are three types of groups you identify with:

  • Aspirational—groups you want to belong to
  • Associative—groups you feel you are part of because you have something in common
  • Dissociative—groups to which you do not want to belong.

By linking products to one of these three groups, you can persuade your prospects to make decisions based upon the group with which they identify.

Successfully gaining associative group influence is complex.

This can be done in two ways:

  1. Associating your product with the target group through advertising
  2. Disassociating your product from other groups within society, in order to make it appear more accepted, or, in the cases of younger audiences, simply more “cool.”

The kid clothes industry does both, by urging kids to be part of the cool kid’s group while rejecting the adults.

Principle 5: The Means-End Chain—The Critical Core

“Don’t buy my product for what it does for you today—buy it for what it will do for you tomorrow!”

The strategy is based on the theory that many consumer decisions are taken not to satisfy an immediate need, but for some future objective.

The formula for activating the Means-End Chain mindset is simple.

Your copy and images should always represent the positive end results. In this way your prospect is less likely to critically analyze the pros and cons of the actual product, and base their purchase decision on the ultimate benefit it will provide them.

People don’t buy the drill. They buy the hole.

Principle 6: The Transtheoretical Model—Persuasion Step by Step

If clients don’t know what a hamburger is, you can’t sell them McDonald’s.

This is what the model helps with: it takes clients from complete ignorance to regular purchases.

  1. Precontemplation: People in this stage are either ignorant or unaware they need your product.
  2. Contemplation: Prospects in this stage are aware of your product and have thought about using it.
  3. Preparation: Your prospect wants to buy but needs more information.
  4. Action: Your prospect buys.
  5. Maintenance: Your prospect regularly buys your product.

The challenge is to deal simultaneously with consumers at different stages. For that, you can whether create ads that address the five stages, or a series of ads over time that progress from one stage to another.

Principle 7: The Inoculation Theory—Make Them Prefer You for Life

The Inoculation Theory is used to reinforce a consumer’s existing attitudes toward a product or service by presenting a “weak” argument that tricks the consumer into defending his position and therefore strengthening his attitude.

The three steps are:

  1. Warn of an impending attack.
  2. Make a weak attack.
  3. Encourage a strong defense.

One way advertisers use inoculation is by publicizing their competitors’ criticisms of their company and turning them to their advantage in the form of weak attacks that serve to reinforce and ensure their consumers’ loyalty.

Inoculation is a favorite among politicians: “my opponent will tell you there’s no way to bring down skyrocketing oil prices… But I tell you this is definitely not the case, and here is why….”

Principle 8: Belief Re-ranking—Change Their Reality

People hate changing their minds, appearance, or anything.

Fortunately, there are ways to change people’s beliefs when they don’t believe they need your product.

-> switch the focus away from the attitudes and onto the underlying beliefs.

Eg: “there is the idea in society that baking soda is bad…however, recent studies outline that there are plenty of benefits to baking soda toothpaste…”

Another approach is to change the importance of beliefs, rather than the beliefs themselves.

But manipulating beliefs either through reinforcement or undermining is easier and more likely to succeed than attempting a change.

Ex: cereals brands will highlight how they contain x, y z vitamins. They will talk about the positive side of the product, not the negative one.

Regardless of what technique you use, your prospects must remain unaware that you’re attempting to influence them. You want them to think they’ve made their own decision.

You do it by removing your prospects’ need for cognitive (critical) thinking, like the following technique.

Principle 9: The Elaboration Likelihood Model—Adjust Their Attitude

There are two routes to attitude change:

  • The central route: use facts, evidence, stats, testimonials, case studies. Works better in the long term.
  • The peripheral route: Persuading using the association of thoughts, images, colors, emotions.

The one you use depends on your product. If your product is important (insurance, a school, a car), you’ll take longer to decide and use logic. In that case, take the central route to advertise.

If you’re selling food, use the peripheral route.

Principle 10: The 6 Weapons of Influence—Shortcuts to Persuasion

  1. Comparison: If everyone is doing it, we want to do it too.
  2. Liking: You buy from people you like.
  3. Authority: You buy from people you trust.  
  4. Reciprocation: when you receive something for free, you are compelled to give back.  
  5. Commitment/consistency: The commitment/consistency cue says that if you take a stand on an issue, you must remain consistent with your beliefs. “Do you care about the environment? Then buy xyz”.
  6. Scarcity: We want what we cannot have.

Principle 11: Message Organization—Attaining Critical Clarity

Whatever the strength of the message, it must always be clear.

Principle 12: Examples vs. Statistics—And the Winner Is…

Examples, because they appeal to the emotional.

However, it also depends on your product. If you sell beer, forget about the facts.

Principle 13: Message Sideness—Dual-Role Persuasion

For example, Microsoft could say “the iPhone has revolutionized blablab, but now, it’s time to upgrade for something even better”.

Principle 14: Repetition and Redundancy—The Familiarity Factor

People don’t see your ad until you show it 7 times.

Principle 15: Rhetorical Questions—Interesting, Aren’t They?

It’s a statement disguised in a question.

“Aren’t you glad to use Windows? Don’t you wish everyone did the same?

Principle 16: Evidence—Quick! Sell Me the Facts!

Evidence can be facts, figures, testimonials, endorsements, research, charts, videos—you name it—as long as you, the advertiser, didn’t create it yourself.

Research concludes that evidence works, and works well.

Make sure you present your evidence in a clear and easy-to-grasp manner. Use feature colorful charts and graphs, and facts, figures, and quotes from respected intellectuals and professionals.

Principle 17: Heuristics—Serving Billions of Lazy Brains Daily

Heuristics is the science of making a decision based on acquiring knowledge. It reveals that humans think as little as possible because it takes energy.

This explains why long-copy works better than short copy. “If this is this long, whatever is written must be true”.

Leave a Reply

This Post Has One Comment