David Ogilvy’s Guide To Direct Response Advertising Part 8

David Ogilvy’s breakthrough advertising techniques worked because they were not just different, they were useful to their intended audience.

The idea of having an ad that was 90% numbered bullet points had not occurred up to this point (at least, not for the audience of the time). Everyone who was anyone in advertising understood the power of bullet points (just as they understood that subheadings broke up text into manageable chunks), but no one had tested the number of bullet points to this extreme.

And that was the point of element 8. Ogilvy started the element with some advice: “Challenge dogma” he said. He then continued with more advice, the final part of which stated his advice was not “new dogma” (the best copywriters know their audience, and know when an objection is likely to be raised, they also know whether they can remove that objection by removing a point, or challenge the objection by adding a point).

The recommendations he gave in this element (eg. use offset printed letters, not computer generated letters) are not relevant today (printing techniques have moved on), but the point of them was to invoke trust in his knowledge.

By the time you’d read the 90 or so words of this element, you’d be sold on the idea that “testing pays”. That meant any future conversation you’d have with Ogilvy would include a budget for testing.

In other words, he’d already opened up negotiations with you and agreed certain things (even if you’d never heard of him and his agency before). This is truly clever.


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David Ogilvy, direct response


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