3 Fresh Marketing Lessons from David Ogilvy

Ogilvy and Thought LeadershipFrom the 60s through to the 80s, David Ogilvy was the King of Madison Avenue. And some of his less well-known marketing strategies are tailor-made for today’s marketing environment, where so much focus is now creating great content.

Back in the day, clients from Rolls Royce to Schweppes to P&G came knocking on the doors of Ogilvy & Mather looking to sprinkle some of that Ogilvy magic onto their brands. He created some of the most memorable, and more importantly, some of the highest selling ads in history.

Some of his best work, and the marketing we can learn the most from today, came in what Ogilvy & Mather called “house ads.”

1. Thought Leadership as Marketing

House ads ran in the 60s and 70s to drum up business for Ogilvy’s own agency. And boy, did they work. They weren’t traditional ads. They looked and read like articles.

Ads like “How to Create Advertising That Sells“ (1972), “How to Launch New Products” (1973), and “How to Make Successful Television Commercials” (1974) shared Ogilvy’s best ideas on effective advertising.

Thanks to the generosity of Ogilvy’s agency today, you can read many of those classics on their Pinterest board.

In Ogilvy’s words “The purpose of my ads was to project the agency as knowing more about advertising (than other agencies)… My ads not only promised useful information, they provided it. And they worked — in many countries.”

In today’s world where our clients are bombarded with advertising  content and have to make every second of their overloaded days count, Ogilvy’s strategy of not only promising useful information, but  providing it in your content can be even more powerful.

As an overworked business person, what sort of marketing content is more likely to grab your attention: content that tells you how wonderful a product or service is, or content that immediately shows you how to save money or get better results?

And what sort of marketing is more likely to establish the credibility of the advertiser: marketing that claims their people are experts and shows the awards they’ve won, or marketing that immediately proves it by sharing their insights and thought leadership?

2. Keeping it Classy

Ogilvy’s house ads were classy too. They knew that their roster of clients would sound impressive. But rather than rubbing your nose in it and risk sounding like they were showing off, they dropped them subtly into the content of their articles with phrases like “Should you position SCHWEPPES as a soft drink -- or a mixer?” or “Should you position DOVE as a product for dry skin or as one which gets hands really clean?”

Ogilvy’s ads were bold too. They quoted more facts, figures and examples than any other ads of the day. And they didn’t talk down to readers. They assumed they were intelligent and flattered them.

3. Calls to Action are a Must

Each ad ended with a strong call to action. Sometimes it prompted you to contact them for more information (like detailed reports on advertising tips for specific sectors). Sometimes it was to ask for an invitation to a private presentation (e.g. example for a new mathematical model for launching a product). In each case the call to action offered further value, identified interested prospects, and began a series of interactions with them, bringing them into the sales funnel.

Ogilvy’s house ads established his firm as the premier experts in advertising. Could you use those same techniques to establish your business as the premier experts in your field?

I’m betting you can.

Ian Brodie is the author of the free report, 5 Simple Marketing Tweaks That Will Get You More Clients. He teaches consultants, coaches and other professionals how to attract and win more clients and was recently named one of the Top 25 Global Influencers in Sales and Sales Management by OpenView Labs. Get more marketing and sales tips from at Ian at his More Clients blog or connect with him on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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