David Ogilvy’s Guide To Direct Response Advertising Part 12

Ever used a quiz to sell stuff? David Ogilvy did, and element 12 in our series based on one of his ads is all about them.

Quizzes are all the rage of course with online quiz software blossoming for the last couple of years. But quizzes have been in use ever since the concept of ‘the question’ was first invented – or rather, asked.

Our DNA ensures we do all we can to answer questions (even if we do our best to ignore them), so it makes perfect sense to exploit them when it comes to marketing.

All we have to do is ask a relevant question and our readers are hooked at least until the answer is revealed.

Quizzes are used constantly in click bait too, but the real trick to creating a quiz is to make it so subtle, people don’t realise they’re being guided down an inevitable path.

It’s the same with any viral content too – although we’re quick to spot the fakers (but not the pro-elite fakers of course).

Back in Ogilvy’s day, he showed us a quiz style ad outperforming a non-quiz ad by 230% (he used a real world example as proof – always the most vital ingredient), and today it’s probably no different (I say “probably” because we rarely get to see the failures).

Yet despite Ogilvy’s evidence, most gurus tell us not to start our copy with a question. Why? Perhaps because it’s too early in the advertising process to get a good answer (if the question requires an obviously too rhetorical ‘yes’, we run a mile, if it’s too open or complicated, we get confused and give up).

So what’s a good way to start a quiz? We don’t know. Like every piece of advertising ever written, it’s all in the luck of the gods. Some work, some don’t, those that do are exploited like hell.

But either way, we know we’re more likely to get a better result with a quiz-like format because humans will always feel compelled to respond to questions (it tickles our egos).

More wisdom from the world of Ogilvy coming Monday. Stay peeled.

PS. Don’t forget to sign up for the Science of Copywriting Weekly Newsletter so you never miss an episode (https://scienceofcopywriting.com).


David Ogilvy, quiz

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