American author Robert Collier is best known for his self-help and New Thought metaphysical books.
His book The Secret of the Ages (1926) sold over 300,000 copies during his life and inspired decades of self-help books, media, and teachings.
Collier wrote about the practical psychology of…
- Confident action
- Personal development
…but he also wrote about copywriting. Robert Collier was a genius of direct mail — many copywriters cite him as one of the people they’ve learned the most from.
His books Copywriting & Direct Marketing, The Robert Collier Letter Book, and How To Make Money At Home In Spare Time By Mail are full of actionable advice for turning readers into customers.
Over 80 years later, here are 25 relevant-as-ever Robert Collier quotes to inspire your copywriting and your life.
Robert Collier quotes about copywriting
1. “The mind thinks in pictures, you know. One good illustration is worth a thousand words. But one clear picture built up in the reader’s mind by your words is worth a thousand drawings, for the reader colors that picture with his own imagination, which is more potent than all the brushes of all the world’s artists.”
2. “Always enter the conversation already taking place in the customer’s mind.”
3. “What is the bait that will tempt your reader? How can you tie up the thing you have to offer with that bait?”
4. “The headline of an advertisement accounts for 60% of the pull of that ad. In the same way, the start of a letter makes or breaks the letter, because if the start does not interest your reader, he never gets down to the rest of your letter.”
5. “You have to compete in the same way for your reader’s attention. He is not looking for your letter. He has a thousand and one other things more important to him to occupy his mind. Why should he divert his attention from them to plow through pages of type about you or your projects?”
6. “Tell a man something new and you have his attention. Give it a personal twist or show its relation to his business and you have his interest.”
7. “Appeal to the reason, by all means. Give people a logical excuse for buying that they can tell to their friends and use to salve their own consciences. But if you want to sell goods, if you want action of any kind, base your real urge upon some primary emotion!”
8. “We have become so accustomed to hearing everyone claim that his product is the best in the world, or the cheapest, that we take all such statements with a grain of salt.”
9. “Your sale must be made in your reader’s mind.”
10. “Lead him gently from one point of interest to another, with word pictures so clear, so simple, that he can almost see the things you are offering him.”
11. “The secret of painting such a picture in the reader’s mind is to take some familiar figure his mind can readily grasp, add one point of interest here, another there, and so on until you have built a complete word picture of what you have to offer. It is like building a house.”
12. “You know that every man is constantly holding a mental conversation with himself, the burden of which is his own interests — his business, his loved ones, his advancement. And you have tried to chime in on that conversation with something that fits in with his thoughts.”
13. “The more motives you can appeal to, of course, the more successful you will be, but it is important that you differentiate between the motive that makes him desire a thing and the one that impels him to take the action you desire, for the whole purpose of your letter is to make your reader act as you wish him.”
14. “There are only two reasons why your reader will do as you tell him to in your letter. The first is that you have made him want something so badly that of his own inertia he reaches out for your order card to get it. The other is that you have aroused in him the fear that he will lose something worthwhile if he does not.”
15. “Finally, tell him what to do. Don’t leave it to him to decide. We are all mentally lazy, you know, so dictate his action for him — get your suggester to working on him. If he is to do certain things, describe them. Tell him to put his name on the enclosed card, stamp and mail, or pin his check or dollar bill to this letter and return in the enclosed envelope.”
Robert Collier quotes about success
16. “Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.”
17. “Visualize this thing that you want, see it, feel it, believe in it. Make your mental blueprint, and begin to build.”
18. “Vision — it reaches beyond the thing that is, into the conception of what can be. Imagination gives you the picture. Vision gives you the impulse to make the picture your own.”
19. “The first principle of success is desire – knowing what you want. Desire is the planting of your seed.”
20. “See things as you would have them be instead of as they are.”
21. “You have to sow before you can reap. You have to give before you can get.”
22. “The great thing is the start – to see an opportunity for service, and to start doing it, even though in the beginning you serve but a single customer – and him for nothing.”
23. “The great successful men of the world have used their imagination. They think ahead and create their mental picture in all its details, filling in here, adding a little there, altering this a bit and that a bit, but steadily building.”
24. “As fast as each opportunity presents itself, use it! No matter how tiny an opportunity it may be, use it!”
25. “Make every thought, every fact, that comes into your mind pay you a profit. Make it work and produce for you. Think of things not as they are but as they might be. Don’t merely dream — but create!”