What Advertisers can Learn from the Life and Times of David Ogilvy

David Mackenzie Ogilvy is widely acknowledged as the father of advertising. He was called the most sought after wizard in the advertising industry of the 1960s’ by Time. The unique marketing ideas, selling propositions and powerful campaigns that he fostered in his days as a marketing executive and copywriter still continue to inspire millions of people.

Studying Ogilvy you not only learn how to quickly convert prospects into buyers or create content that effectively wins people over, you also learn a lot about the nature of life and aspiration. Here are a few of his lessons that I find particularly helpful.

The distinction of knowledge and ingenuity

Ogilvy notes that ignorance is not only anarchic it is also dangerous. Knowledge and creativity are two things that’ll get you going when trying to persuade people to buy your product, service or idea. Your audiences know when you are unprepared and simply beating around the bush. Solid facts will get you more audience than any amount of small talk, no matter how clever or witty it is.

It is also important to sell what you create. All knowledge, creativity and ingenuity go to a waste if you can’t deliver results.

The importance of market research

Ogilvy said that the best way to convince people to listen to you, and do as you want them to do, is to speak to them in their own language, the language that feels home to them, the one they are comfortable with- listening, thinking, talking, reading and decision making.

It is absolutely essential to address prospects in their comfort zone and research is a powerful tool to find this zone out. Only with extensive research can you find out what your prospects think, talk and worry about – what kind of language do they think, talk and worry in. Incorporate the same in your ads, sales copies, newspaper headlines, blogs, books, and speak their language when you approach them directly.

The feeling of familiarity that this approach brings to your prospects makes them trust you more than they would have otherwise. So let the Thesaurus stay at home, research the language of your audience and adopt it as your own.

The charm of direct selling

Ogilvy has often recited the famous story of how he first discovered his ‘secret weapon’ as he later started referring to it as. A man with only $500 had walked into his agency in London, looking to advertise his hotel’s opening. The man sought Ogilvy’s help considering he had a very small amount with him and Ogilvy was a mere beginner then. The hotel still opened to its maximum capacity.

How you ask? Direct Marketing! Ogilvy had sent out postcard invitations to everybody he found in the local yellow pages. Ogilvy says that direct advertising is very tangible and very effective. You can measure it down to every dollar you spend and the personalization it shows wins over customers faster than a general indirect marketing campaign ever could.

The power of branding

Standing out in your field is important. As you may have observed different brands of beer or smokes don’t differ much from one another – different brands of creams and shampoos still use the same ingredients and boast of similar advantages. Different newspapers and news channels cover the same news and so on. Yet one enjoys a larger audience than the other.

That is the power of branding for you. Ogilvy defines it as the sum total of a product’s features – the name it has, the kind of packaging it comes in, the amount it is priced at, the value it adds to people, the previous works of the company it has been produced by and the image the company’s name conjures up in the minds of people. Companies that have built a powerful personal brand, be it associated to a person of importance or a powerful thought or principle, connect more easily and distinctively with people than other companies who have not managed to establish themselves a strong brand power. Those without a powerful brand presence stand the risk of losing their identity in a sea of similar products and services.

So invest not only in selling your products and services, but also in creating a strong brand name that people can associate with. Brand power is usually enough to do all your selling for you.

And finally the importance of keeping an eye on the bigger picture

There are good days when you are beaming with positivity and then there are bad days when you are not even sure just why you do what you do. The trick is to not lose perspective of the bigger picture here. Remember that everyday is a new beginning, an opportunity to touch new lives with your thoughts and ideas, an opportunity to make a difference. And this one goes out to every body and not just the advertisers and the copy writers.

So remember to think big, aim high, stay strong and stay focused as Ogilvy did and success will be yours.