David Ogilvy’s Guide To Direct Response Advertising Part 16

Ever heard of consumer criteria grids? It’s marketing jargon for segmenting customers and prospects into buckets (which is also more marketing jargon).

Suppose you’re writing a direct mail piece for a window replacement company. But they’re not any old window replacement company, these people make bespoke windows from wood and stone for historic or important houses.

Most countries have strict planning regulations for buildings like these, and whilst there are millions of them globally, they only represent a tiny proportion of the housing stock – which means a mass spray and pray direct mailing is going to miss the mark by a country mile.

The only way to get an ROI on a campaign like this is to segment a list by a certain set of criteria. The research will be costly, but once it’s compiled, the first step to a profitable campaign will have been completed.

All this is obvious and David Ogilvy, who used this bit of jargon in element 16 of his direct response ad to rule all direct response ads knew it.

He just needed to make sure his prospects knew it too (that is, knew that his agency were experts when it came to customer segmentation and profitability).

He called it “separating the wheat from the chaff”, which is a phrase very appealing to those in the market of making as much money as possible.

To push the expert status of his agency a little further, he threw in words like psychographics and demographics, thus sealing in extra guru points with words that weren’t that well known back in the 70s.

These days of course we have trackers, autoresponders, and funnel software to do our segmentation, so there’s no real excuse for failure other than bad copy (or a bad offer).

This is why it’s important to be up to speed on segmentation (even if someone else does it) so copy can be written for a specific audience.

PS. Ogilvy also used computer technology back in the day. This helped justify their premium pricing.

PPS. Watch out for element 17 (link below). You won’t want to miss it – and that’s a promise.


consumer, David Ogilvy, direct response

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