David Ogilvy’s Guide To Writing Ads Explained Part 9

Ever spent hours (or days) figuring out an avatar or audience profile? You know, where they live, what they drink, why they buy baked beans? It’s not easy (you could even make it all up and still hit a bunch of people).

The point is, you do all that research, write your ad, then nothing happens. Was it the words? The wrong audience? They’re not ready for it yet? They already have a solution? Whatever it is, you don’t have a clue (but hey, you did the work, so that’s OK then – it’s not your fault).

Ogilvy knew this very well. In fact he made a point of it for element #9. And he did it so he could differentiate his agency from everyone else (even though everyone else was already using these ideas – which is why he was happy to ‘share’ it with the world – this is a lesson on its own btw).

He pointed out that people don’t necessarily buy a luxury car because they read The New York Times, bank at Coutts and Co, or are on Forbes.

His hush hush agency secret was psychology (which is exactly what he was using in the ad from which this series was derived). And his #1 secret was status. It goes something like this: “If you want to use the best agency in the land, then you’d better make sure they conform to this list, because people like us only take on world beating clients like you if you agree to every principle we outline here.”.

Actually, I probably put that a lot better in part 1 of this series, but you get the picture. Prefer psychology over physical attributes when it comes to audience selection (or rather, audience self-selection).

But apart from status, what else could you use for audience self-selection from a psychological point of view? Love, hate, injustice, greed, envy? The world opens up when you start thinking like this.

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