The Most Important Point in “How to Create Advertising that Sells”

David Ogilvy is a marketing and advertising legend. He founded Ogilvy & Mather in 1948 and help build some of America’s most prolific brands (to name a few: American Express, Sears, Ford, Shell, Barbie, Pond’s, Dove, and Maxwell House).

He was most renowned for his copywriting and for focusing on producing work that built long-term value for brands.

“Every advertisement is part of the long-term investment in the personality of the brand.” – David Ogilvy.

One of Oglivy’s most famous advertisements was for his own agency: a full page, full text ad called “How to create Advertising that sells.

This is one of those things you put on your calendar to re-read every quarter.

But this ramble isn’t going to comment on all 38 points in the ad; it’s focused on the first one. Ogilvy knew you lead with your best. So point #1, I believe it is safe to say, is his most important (considering its name).

The most important decision:

We have learned that the effect of your advertising on your sales depends more on this decision than on any other: How should you position your product? Should you position SCHWEPPES as a soft drink – or as a mixer? Should you position DOVE as a product for dry skin or as a product which gets hands really clean? The results of your campaign depend less on how we write your advertising than on how your product is positioned. It follows that positioning should be decided before that advertising is created. Research can help. Look before you leap.

Positioning requires you to get in the seat of the consumer, to think like them, to pretend like them, and to feel the pains, the joys, the struggles, the annoyances, the relief…

And it requires you to ask hard questions about your product.

How does your product make a consumer feel when they see it? Does it relieve a pain? Does it bring a type of joy? Does it head off a common struggle? Does it prevent common annoyances? If yes, then great! Simply present the “how.” If no…. No amount of advertising will help.

Our job here at Syrup is to be professional positioners. To do that, we must:

  1. Be able to sit in the seat of the buyer.
    1. Where do they live?
    2. What do they like?
    3. How do they think?
    4. What do they need?
    5. + 50 more questions….
  2. Be able to sit in the seat of the product, understanding it to the degree required to fully understand its possible benefits to the buyer.
    1. How does the product save time?
    2. How does the product save money?
    3. How does the product bring joy?
    4. How does the product prevent pain?
    5. + 50 more questions….

Before you sit in YOUR seat to create work, you must first sit in the two mentioned above.

In 2017, with the targeting capabilites across media platforms, it’s pretty straightforward (with some training & experise) to target any persona/prospective buyer. That’s not the hard part. Targeting won’t be what makes or breaks the success of the campaign, as long as it is executed correctly. The positioning of the product however, as Ogilvy has stated, is “the most important decision.”