Tag: Advertising

David Ogilvy 10 Tips on Writing

David Ogilvy 10 Tips on Writing

In 1982, the original “Mad Man” David Ogilvy, sent the following internal memo to all employees of his advertising agency, Ogilvy & Mather, titled “How to Write.”

Via The Unpublished David Ogilvy: A Selection of His Writings from the Files of His Partners:

The better you write, the higher you go in Ogilvy & Mather. People who think well, write well.

Woolly minded people write woolly memos, woolly letters and woolly speeches.

Good writing is not a natural gift. You have to learn to write well. Here are 10 hints:

1. Read the Roman-Raphaelson book on writing. Read it three times.

2. Write the way you talk. Naturally.

3. Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs.

4. Never use jargon words like reconceptualize, demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass.

5. Never write more than two pages on any subject.

6. Check your quotations.

7. Never send a letter or a memo on the day you write it. Read it aloud the next morning—and then edit it.

8. If it is something important, get a colleague to improve it.

9. Before you send your letter or your memo, make sure it is crystal clear what you want the recipient to do.

10. If you want ACTION, don't write. Go and tell the guy what you want.

***

Still Curious? Read Confessions of an Advertising Man and The Unpublished David Ogilvy: A Selection of His Writings from the Files of His Partners.

Scientific Advertising

Claude Hopkins

Scientific Advertising is a powerful book written in 1923 by Claude Hopkins. Don't let the age of this book fool you. Hopkins expresses powerful “truths” about salesmanship in print that remain relevant today across all media.

The reason for most of the non-successes in advertising is trying to sell people what they do not what. But next to that comes lack of true salesmanship.

Ads are planned and written with some utterly wrong conception. They are written to please the seller. The interest of the buyer are forgotten. One can never sell goods profitable, in person or in print, when that attitude exists.

David Ogilvy once said “Nobody should be allowed to have anything to do with advertising until he has read this book seven times. It changed the course of my life.”

Reproduced below is the original and unedited text from the “Psychology” chapter.

The competent advertising man must understand psychology. The more he knows about it the better. He must learn that certain effects lead to certain reactions, and use that knowledge to increase results and avoid mistakes.

Human nature is perpetual. In most respects it is the same today as in the time of Caesar. So the principles of psychology are fixed and enduring. You will never need to unlearn what you learn about them.

We learn, for instance, that curiosity is one of the strongest human incentives. We employ it whenever we can. Puffed Wheat and Puffed Rice were made successful largely through curiosity. “Grains puffed to 8 times the normal size.” “Foods shot from guns.” “125 million steam explosions caused in every kernel.” These foods were failures before that factor was discovered.

We learn that cheapness is not a strong appeal. Americans are extravagant. They want bargains but not cheapness. They want to feel that they can afford to eat and have and wear the best. Treat them as if they could not and they resent your attitude.

We learn that people judge largely by price. They are not experts. In the British National Gallery is a painting which is announced in a catalog to have cost $750,000. Most people at first pass it by at a glance. Then later they get farther on in the catalog and learn what the painting cost. They return then and surround it.

A department store advertised at one Easter time a $1,000 hat, and the floor could not hold the women who came to see it. We often employ this factor in psychology. Perhaps we are advertising a valuable formula. To merely say that would not be impressive. So we state — as a fact — that we paid $100,000 for that formula. That statement when tried has won a wealth of respect.

Many articles are sold under guarantee — so commonly sold that guarantees have ceased to be impressive. But one concern made a fortune by offering a dealers signed warrant. The dealer to whom one paid his money agreed in writing to pay it back if asked. Instead of a far-away stranger, a neighbor gave the warrant. The results have led many to try that plan, and it has always proved effective.

Many have advertised, “Try it for a week. If you don’t like it we’ll return your money. Then someone conceived the idea of sending goods without any money down, and saying, “Pay in a week if you like them.” That proved many times more impressive.

One great advertising man stated the difference this way: “Two men came to me, each offering me a horse. Both made equal claims. They were good horses, kind and gentle. A child could drive them. One man said, “Try the horse for a week. If my claims are not true, come back for your money.” The other man also said, “Try the horse for a week.” But he added, “Come and pay me then.” I naturally bought the second man’s horse.”

Now countless things — cigars, typewriters, washing machines, books, etc. — are sent out in this way on approval. And we find that people are honest. The losses are very small.

An advertiser offered a set of books to business men. The advertising was unprofitable, so he consulted another expert. The ads were impressive. The offer seemed attractive, “But,” said the second man, “let us add one little touch which I have found effective. Let us offer to put the buyers name in gilt lettering on each book.” That was done, and with scarcely another change in the ads they sold some hundreds of thousands of books. Through some peculiar kink in human psychology it was found that names in gilt gave much added value to the books.

Many send out small gifts, like memorandum books, to customers and prospects. They get very small results. One man sent out a letter to the effect that he had a leather-covered book with a man’s name on it. It was waiting on him and would be sent on request. The form of request was enclosed, and it also asked for certain information. That information indicated lines on which a man might be sold.

Nearly all men, it was found, filled out that request and supplied the information. When a man knows that something belongs to them — something with his name on — he will make an effort to get it, even though the thing is a trifle.

In the same way it is found that an offer limited to a certain class of people is far more effective than a general offer. For instance, an offer limited to veterans of the war. Or to members of a lodge or sect. Or to executives. Those who are entitled to any seeming advantage will go a long way not to lose that advantage.

An advertiser suffered much from substitution. He said, “Look out for substitutes,” “Be sure you get this brand,” etc., with no effect. Those were selfish appeals. Then he said, “Try our rivals’ too” — said it in his headlines. He invited comparisons and showed that he did not fear them. That corrected the situation. Buyers were careful to get the brand so conspicuously superior that its maker could court a trial of the rest.

Two advertisers offered food products nearly identical. Both offered a full-size package as an introduction. But one gave his package free. The other bought the package. A coupon was good at any store for a package, for which the maker paid retail price.

The first advertiser failed and the second succeeded. The first even lost a large part of the trade he had. He cheapened his product by giving a 15-cent package away. It is hard to pay for an article which has once been free. It is like paying railroad fare after traveling on a pass.

The other gained added respect for his article by paying retail price to let the user try it. An article good enough for the maker to buy is good enough for the user to buy. It is vastly different to pay 15 cents to let you try an article than to simply say “It’s free.”

So with sampling. Hand an unwanted product to a housewife and she pays it slight respect. She is no mood to see its virtues. But get her to ask for a sample after reading your story, and she is in a very different position. She knows your claims. She is interested in them, else she would not act. And she expects to find the qualities you told.

There is a great deal in mental impression. Submit five articles exactly alike and five people may choose one of them. But point out in one some qualities to notice and everyone will find them. The five people then will all choose the same article.

If people can be made sick or well by mental impressions, they can be made to favor a certain brand in that way. And that, on some lines, is the only way to win them.

Two concerns, side by side, sold women’s clothing on installments. The appeal, of course, was to poor girls who desire to dress better. One treated them like poor girls and made the bare business offer. The other put a woman in charge — a motherly, dignified, capable woman. They did business in her name. They used her picture. She signed all ads and letters. She wrote to these girls like a friend. She knew herself what it meant to a girl not to be able to dress her best. She had long sought a chance to supply women good clothes and give them all season to pay.

Now she was able to do so, with the aid of men behind her. There was no comparison in those two appeals. It was not long before this womans’ long established next door rival had to quit.

The backers of this business sold house furnishings on installments. Sending out catalogs promiscuously did not pay. Offering long-time credit often seems like a reflection.

But when a married woman bought garments from Mrs. ________, and paid as agreed, they wrote to her something like this: “Mrs. ________, whom we know, tells us that you are one of her good customers. She has dealt with you, she says, and you do just as you agree. So we have opened with you a credit account on our books, good any time you wish. When you want anything in furnishings, just order it. Pay nothing in advance. We are very glad to send it without any investigation to a person recommended as you are.” That was flattering. Naturally those people, when they wanted some furniture, would order from that house.

There are endless phases to psychology. Some people know them by instinct. Many of them are taught by experience. But we learn most of them from others. When we see one winning method we note it down for use when occasion offers.

These things are very important. An identical offer made in a different way may bring multiplied returns. Somewhere in the mines of business experience we must find the best method somehow.

Read Scientific Advertising before you read any other book on advertising or marketing. It may change your life, too.

Create Advertising That Sells

Retro but still relevant.

Create Advertising That Sells

How to Create Advertising That Sells

By David Ogilvy

Ogilvy & Mather has created over $1,480,000,000 worth of advertising, and spent $4,900,000 tracking the results. Here, with all the dogmatism of brevity, are 38 of the things we have learned.

1. The most important decision. We have learned that the effect of your advertising on your sales depends more on this decision than on any other: How should you position your product? Should you position Schweppes as a soft drink – or as a mixer? Should you position Dove as a product for dry skin or as a product which gets hands really clean? The results of your campaign depend less on how we write your advertising than how your product is positioned. It follows that positioning should be decided before the advertising is created. Research can help. Look before you leap.

2. Large promise. The second most important decision is this: what should you promise the customer? A promise is not a claim, or a theme, or a slogan. It is a benefit for the consumer. It pays to promise a benefit which is unique and competitive, and the product must deliver the benefit you promise. Most advertising promises nothing. It is doomed to fail in the marketplace. “Promise, large promise, is the soul of an advertisement” – said Samuel Johnson.

3. Brand image. Every advertisement should contribute to the complex symbol which is the brand image.Ninety-five percent of all advertising is created ad hoc. Most products lack any consistent image from one year to another. The manufacturer who dedicates his advertising to building the most sharply defined personality for his brand gets the largest share of the market.

4. Big ideas. Unless your advertising is built on a BIG IDEA, it will pass like a ship in the night. It takes a BIG IDEA to jolt the consumer out of his indifference – to make him notice your advertising, remember it and take action. Big ideas are usually simple ideas. Said Charles Kettering, the great General Motors inventor: “This problem, when solved, will be simple.” BIG SIMPLE IDEAS are not easy to come by. They require genius – and midnight oil. A truly big one can be continued for 20 years – like our Eyepatch for Hathaway shirts.

5. A first-class ticket. It pays to give most products an image of quality – a first-class ticket. Ogilvy & Mather has been conspicuously successful in doing this – for Pepperidge, Hathaway, Mercedes Benz, Schweppes, Dove and others. If your advertising looks ugly, consumers will conclude that your product is shoddy and they will be less likely to buy it.

6. Don’t be a bore. Nobody was ever bored into buying a product. Yet most advertising is impersonal, detached, cold – and dull. It pays to involve the customer. Talk to her like a human being. Charm her. Make her hungry. Get her to participate.

7. Innovate. Start trends – instead of following them. Advertising which follows a fashionable fad or is imitative, is seldom successful. It pays to innovate, to blaze new trails. But innovation is risky unless you pre-test your innovation with consumers. Look before you leap.

8. Be suspicious of awards. The pursuit of creative awards seduces creative people from the pursuit of sales. We have been unable to establish any correlation whatever between awards and sales. At Ogilvy and Mather, we now give an annual award for the campaign which contributes the most to sales. Successful advertising sells the product without drawing attention to itself, it rivets the consumer’s attention on the product. Make the product the hero of your advertising.

9. Psychological Segmentation. Any good agency knows how to position products for demographic segments of the market – for men, for young children, for farmers in the south, etc. But Ogilvy and Mather has learned that it often pays to position for psychological segments of the market. Our Mercedes-Benz advertising is positioned to fit non-conformists who scoff at “status symbols” and reject flim-flam appeals to snobbery.

10. Don’t bury news. It is easier to interest the consumer in a product when it is new than at any other point in its life. Many copywriters have a fatal instinct for burying news. This is why most advertising for new products fails to exploit the opportunity that genuine news provides. It pays to launch your new product with a loud BOOM-BOOM.

11. Go the whole hog. Most advertising campaigns are too complicated. They reflect a long list of marketing objectives. They embrace the divergent views of too many executives. By attempting too many things, they achieve nothing. It pays to boil down your strategy to one simple promise – and go the whole hog in delivering that promise.

What Works Best In Television
12. Testimonials. Avoid irrelevant celebrities. Testimonial commercials are almost always successful – if you make them credible. Either celebrities or real people can be effective. But avoid irrelevant celebrities whose fame has no natural connection with your product or your customers. Irrelevant celebrities steal attention from your product.

13. Problem-solution (don’t cheat!) You set up a problem that the consumer recognizes. Then you show how your product can solve that problem. And you prove the solution. This technique has always been above average in sales results, and it still is. But don’t use it unless you can do so without cheating: the consumer isn’t a moron. She is your wife.

14. Visual demonstrations. If they are honest, visual demonstrations are generally effective in the marketplace. It pays to visualize your promise. It saves time. It drives the promise home. It is memorable.

15. Slice of life. These playlets are corny, and most copywriters detect them. But they have sold a lot of merchandise, and are still selling.

16. Avoid logorrhea. Make your pictures tell the story. What you show is more important than what you say. Many commercials drown the viewer in a torrent of words. We call that logorrhea, (rhymes with diarrhea.) We have created some great commercials without words.

17. On-camera voice. Commercials using on-camera voice do significantly better than commercials using voice over.

18. Musical Backgrounds. Most commercials use musical backgrounds. However, on the average, musical backgrounds reduce recall of your commercial. Very few creative people accept this. But we never heard of an agency using musical background under a new business presentation.

19. Stand-ups. The stand-up pitch can be effective, if it is delivered with straightforward honesty.

20. Burr of singularity. The average consumer now sees 20,000 commercials a year; poor dear. Most of them slide off her memory like water off a duck’s back. Give your commercials a flourish of singularity, a burr that will stick in the consumer’s mind. One such burr is the MNEMONIC DEVICE or relevant symbol – like the crowns in our commercials for Imperial Magazine.

21. Animation and cartoons. Less than five percent of television commercials use cartoons or animation. They are less persuasive than live commercials. The consumer can not identify herself with the character in the cartoon and cartoon’s do not invite belief. However, Carson-Roberts, our partners in Los Angeles, tell us that animation can be helpful when you are talking to children. They should know – they have addressed more than six hundred commercials to children.

22. Salvage commercials. Many commercials which test poorly can be salvaged. The faults revealed by the test can be corrected. We have doubled the effectiveness of a commercial simply be re-editing it.

23. Factual versus emotional. Factual commercials tend to be more effective than than emotional commercials. However, Ogilvy & Mather has made some emotional commercials, which have been successful in the marketplace. Among these are our campaigns for Maxwell House Coffee and Hershey’s Milk Chocolate.

24. Grabbers. We have found that commercials with an exciting opening hold their audience at a higher level than commercials which begin quietly.

What Works Best In Print?
25. Headline. On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. It follows that, if you don’t sell the product in your headline, you have wasted eighty percent of your money. That is why most Ogilvy and Mather headlines include the brand name and the promise.

26. Benefit in headlines. Headlines that promise to benefit sell more than those that don’t.

27. News and headlines. Time after time we have found that it pays to inject genuine news into headlines. The consumer is always on the lookout for new products or new improvements in an old product, or new ways to use an old product. Economists – even Russian economists – approve of this. They call it “informative” advertising. So do consumers.

28. Simple headlines. Your headline should telegraph what you want to say – in simple language. Readers do not stop to decipher the meanings of obscure headlines.

29. How many words in a headline? In headline tests conducted with cooperation from a big department store, it was found that headlines of ten words or longer sold more goods than short headlines. In terms of recall, headlines between eight and ten words are most effective. In mail order advertising, headlines between six and twelve words get the must coupon returns. On the average, long headlines sell more merchandise than short ones – headlines like our “At 60 miles an hour, the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock.”

30. Localize headlines. In local advertising, it pays to include the name of the city in your headline.

31. Select your prospects. When you advertise your product which is consumed by a special group, it pays to flag that group in your headline – MOTHERS, BED-WETTERS, GOING TO EUROPE?

32. Yes, people read long copy. Readership falls off rapidly up to fifty words, but drops very little between fifty and five hundred words (this page contains 1,909 words, and you are reading it). Ogilvy & Mather has used long copy – with notable success – from Mercedes Benz, Cessna Citation, Merrill Lynch, and Shell Gasoline. “The more you tell, the more sell.”

33. Story appeal and picture. Ogilvy & Mather has gotten noticeable results with photographs, which suggest the story. The reader glances at the photograph and asks himself, “what goes on here?” Then he reads the copy to find out. Harold Rudolph called this magic element “story appeal.” The more of it you inject into your photograph, the more people look at your advertisements. It is easier said than done.

34. Before and after. Before and after advertisements are somewhat above average in attention value. Any form of visualized contrast seems to work well.

35. Photographs versus art work. Ogilvy & Mather has found that photographs work better than drawing – almost invariably. They attract more readers, generate more appetite appeal, are more believable, are better remembered, pull more coupons, and sell more merchandise.

36. Use captions to sell. On the average, twice as many people read the captions under photographs as read the body copy. It follows that you should never use a photograph without putting a caption under it; and each caption should be a miniature advertisement for the product – complete with the brand name and promise.

37. Editorial layout. Ogilvy & Mather has had more success with editorial layouts, than with “addy” layouts. Editorial layouts get higher readership than conventional advertisements.

38. Repeat your winners. Scores of great advertisements have been discarded before they have begun to pay off. Readership can actually increase with repetition – up to five repetitions.

Is this all we know?
These findings apply for most categories of products. But, not to all. Ogilvy & Mather has developed a separate and specialized body of knowledge on what makes for success in advertising food products, tourist destinations, proprietary medicines, children’s products – and other classifications. But, this special information is revealed only to the clients of Ogilvy & Mather.

If you're interested in learning more, check out David Ogilvy's books Confessions Of An Ad Man and Ogilvy on Advertising.

You do want to write better, don't you? Try The Copywriter's Handbook: A Step-By-Step Guide To Writing Copy That Sells.