David Ogilvy’s Guide To Direct Response Advertising Part 7

Element 7 in David Ogilvy’s direct response advertising ad is interesting as an historical document as well as being ahead of its time (and just as relevant today).

The ad ran in the early 1970s when credit cards had only started to become mainstream. They hadn’t been around long though (Diners Club started in 1950, American Express followed in 1958 along with BankAmericard, which became Visa in 1976).

Back then credit cards had two major USPs: 1) customers no longer had to carry around cash, and 2) goods could be ordered remotely. But not just any goods, expensive goods such as TVs and other major household items could now be purchased with ease.

So Ogilvy tested the market with direct response ads to see if this new channel could be exploited. He (and his agency’s customers) were not disappointed.

But just doing these things is not enough. To win more business, you need to tell the world, and Ogilvy wasted no time in doing that by running his famous ad “How direct response advertising can increase your sales and profits” (which is what this 19 part series is covering).

He knew he was in on the start of a revolution, and so this particular element started with the words: “You can now sell high-ticket items direct by mail” (just to make sure people got the message).

As Eugene Schwartz pointed out, audiences vary by their awareness. They start with the unaware (who are almost impossible to sell to) and end with the fully aware (which include the easiest to sell to).

As soon as you know where along the scale your target audience sits, your copy becomes easier to write.

Ogilvy knew his audience were aware of credit cards, but he also knew they were unaware credit cards could be used to purchase high-ticket items through the post. So he let them know using the simplest words as shown above.

All ads should be like this. Right words for the intended audience. Simple enough for anyone to read (without getting confused). And above all, lets people know a solution for their problem is just a phone call (or click, or postage stamp) away.

But even with that, there’s still one thing missing – proof. So Ogilvy applied it to every element. For example, in this element he lets his audience know that one of his clients now makes $50m a year through high-ticket mail order – and all because of the credit card revolution.

That figure ($50m) also lets his audience know that his agency is a major player in the big league. This is how to attract the biggest players.

More wisdom coming in part 8.

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