Hackernoon logoWhat David Ogilvy teaches about Marketing in the digital world by@juhilmendpara

What David Ogilvy teaches about Marketing in the digital world

Juhil Mendpara Hacker Noon profile picture

@juhilmendparaJuhil Mendpara

Freelance content and copywriter helping businesses with the power of content.

(Image from Negative Space on Pexels)

The startup-culture has put innovation on a pedestal. This makes us forget that some departments need to innovate less and stick to the fundamentals. One such sector is ‘Marketing’.

I have been reading David Ogilvy’s “Ogilvy on Advertising” for the past week. And one thing I have realized is: only the medium to communicate the message has changed over the years, not the fundamentals.

David Ogilvy, popularly known as the “father of advertising,” has added numerous anecdotes in his best-seller. And most of the things he talks about can be applied in today’s marketing strategies as well.

Here are a few of those evergreen marketing tips:

1. Do your homework:

“You don’t stand a tinker’s chance of producing successful advertising unless you start by doing your homework.”

Marketing any product or service asks for thorough research. If you have hired an employee or a freelancer to do all your branding & marketing essentials, make sure they understand the value of research. They should know:

  • The ins and outs of the product/service you sell.
  • The ups and downs of the market they are selling to-- demographic, psychographic, and geographic.
  • The strong and weak points of the individuals that might be interested in what you sell. 
  • The trends of individual platforms they are marketing on. E.g., Memes can work on Instagram, but on LinkedIn, they produce a negative effect.

This tip comes from a man who read everything about Rolls Royce and created an ad that doubled the sales.

2. Believe in what you seek to sell:

“Avoid clients whose ethos is incompatible with yours.”

If you are a marketer or a decision-maker at a digital agency, there are two things you need to believe:

  1. The client.
  2. The product/service you will market for them. 

If you don’t believe in either one of them, better skip the deal, unless you need(not want) the money. 

One of the things he adds in his book is how he started using the soaps and the clothes from the brand his agency promoted. Another thing he talks about is how the conflict in ethos led him to decline an account.

It’s a matter of conviction. As a copywriter, If I don’t have faith in what I write or whom I write it for, there’s no chance I will be able to persuade someone. E.g., I write for omnisend, and if I wouldn’t buy their service if I were at their ideal customer’s place, I won’t write for them.

In short, believe in what you seek to sell.

3. Copywriting is crucial:

“Copywriters may not be the most visible people in agencies, but they are the most important.”

You did your research. You know your ideal customer. You know how to get to them. But…If you can’t create awareness or make people buy, the whole marketing campaign fails. That’s why copywriting is essential.

An excellent copy can succeed in a lousy campaign, but the other way ‘round is impossible.

In the book, David Ogilvy shares some determining Copywriting anecdotes-- tips that successful and competent writers follow:

  • The headline can make it or break it: On the average, five times as many people read the headlines as read the body copy. Headlines that contain news, promise the reader a benefit, or gives prior information gets better readership, and eventually sales. One of the most exceptional ad headline ever written had All facts. No adjectives. All specifics. I am talking about the “At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in the New Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock.”
  • The image is pivotal: A picture is worth a thousand words. The image should create a ‘story appeal’ for the targeted user. The illustrations should be as simple as possible. The copy should revolve around the image, with the product as a hero.
  • The body glorifies the product: The product/service you wish to sell should be the center of the body. One should write like they are writing a letter to another person. The copy should be written in a language people use in everyday conversations. The main part? Make the product needful & interesting. As written in the book, “You cannot bore people into buying your product. You can only interest them in buying it.”
  • Consider the small stuff: Things like font, spaces, and positioning matter far more than you would think. To keep it short, the copy must be readable.
  • Copy until you find better: Historically successful campaigns have elements that win. Replicate those until you find better. Remember, a new idea doesn’t guarantee a successful campaign. The father of advertising copied for the first five years of his career.

An excellent copy sells, and the fundamentals that describe a good copy are the same.

4. Never stop testing:  

“Never stop testing, and your advertising will never stop improving.”

Testing is the most important word in the dictionary of Marketing. Sure, testing might turn into a failure, ‘but if…’*Fill in the blanks*

In today’s world, A/B test is something most platform provides. ‘Scale what works, drop what doesn’t.’ should be the motto of every marketer.

Even seeking feedback from other people can help. A Freelance Digital Marketer friend of mine works at a coworking place. He always asks diverse people (a fintech guy, an e-commerce gal, and others) to proofread his emails. Due to this, his emails always get more than 30% CTR. 

Long story short, never stop testing. If you don’t have the budget, test on friends and colleagues.

Final words:

Ogilvy on Advertising was published approx. thirty-five years ago, which in itself was drawn from David's decades of experience. But, even though the book contains half-a-century old techniques, today's marketers and copywriters can learn a lot.

To wrap up, here's the message I would want to leave you with: Until the time comes when robots start buying for themselves, the tips mentioned above will do the trick on us -- rational yet emotional humans.

P.S. I am not here to sell the book, but it's damn awesome.

Juhil Mendpara Hacker Noon profile picture
by Juhil Mendpara @juhilmendpara. Freelance content and copywriter helping businesses with the power of content.Hire me


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