David Ogilvy’s Guide To Writing Ads Explained Part 7

Ogilvy’s rule #7 is similar to rule #4 (big ideas), but with one difference. Where rule #4 talks about revolution, #7 is about evolution. Building on something that already exists.

I’ve talked about this in the past as it’s about managing risk. If you go into full revolutionary mode your audience is going to be tiny (a revolution takes time to build – just like a new product – people need to get used to the idea first).

Revolutions never happen overnight because nature stops us as a species from jumping over a cliff together (without first taking a look) but when it does happen, the effect is magical (or devastating).

Evolution on the other hand is slow and meticulous. Ogilvy calls it innovation, which according to the best definitions, is all about improvement – standing on the shoulders of giants.

Programmers call this iteration (they use the term ‘pivot’ for revolution). They start with a minimum viable product (MVP), test it to see if anyone is interested, then they iterate like crazy if it proves to be useful (i.e., there’s a market for it).

Our ads need to do the same if we want quick wins. We can’t copy the old stuff because old stuff goes out of fashion – “seen it before” is not the reaction we want.

But does that mean evolutionary ideas are a waste of time? Far from it – the holy grail appears when we combine the two rules together. That’s what the upcoming live event I recently mentioned is focusing on (more details about that soon).

PS. There’s one word that never fails to win sales. It’s both evolutionary and revolutionary. It’s been used to sell everything on the planet. No one ever gets tired of hearing it. It breaks rules #4 and #7. It’s just 3 letters long. What is it?

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