A marketer that’s just getting started in the Advertising/Marketing industry may not be familiar with terms like API, KPI, SEO just yet, but one way or another must have heard about David Ogilvy, the Father of Advertising.

This legendary advertiser created some of the world’s most iconic marketing campaigns such as “The man in the Hathaway Shirt” and “The man from schweppes is here”. In fact, the Dove “Real Beauty Sketch Video” is not the brand’s first viral marketing campaign, David Ogilvy helped Dove become the top selling soap in the U.S with his “Only Dove is one-quarter moisturizing cream” campaign.

In 1962, Time called him “the most sought-after wizard in today’s advertising industry.”

Although decades have passed since Mr. Ogilvy’s golden time, here are some timeless lessons content marketers/copywriters can learn in order to gain inspiration from “the father of advertising”.

On September 7th, 1982, Ogilvy sent the following internal memo to all agency employees, titled “How to Write” and found in the 1986 gem The Unpublished David Ogilvy:

The better you write, the higher you go in Ogilvy & Mather. People who think well, write well.

Woolly minded people write woolly memos, woolly letters and woolly speeches.

Good writing is not a natural gift. You have to learn to write well. Here are 10 hints:

1) Read the Roman-Raphaelson book on writing. Read it three times.

2) Write the way you talk. Naturally.

3) Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs.

4) Never use jargon words like reconceptualize, attitudinally, judgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass.

5) Never write more than two pages on any subject.

6) Check your quotations.

7) Never send a letter or a memo on the day you write it. Read it aloud the next morning — and then edit it.

8) If it is something important, get a colleague to improve it.

9) Before you send your letter or your memo, make sure it is crystal clear what you want the recipient to do.

10) If you want ACTION, don’t write. Go and tell the guy what you want.

— David

Mr. Ogilvy’s memo can be concluded into following five points about your content writing strategy:

Be Concise And Clear With Your Writing

In today’s world of ruthless competition, cutting through the clutter is possible when your content is unique, inspiring and highly engaging yet still “to the point”. Emotionally engaging brands like Apple, Nike and Starbucks kept their brand image clean and simple, yet everyone associates them with cutting-edge technology, fashionable sportswear and quality coffee.

Great content builds a relationship with valuable audiences by owning a few seconds of their almost non-existent attention span. A great piece of writing naturally stands out from the rest by getting the message across with beautiful, simple imagery and clever, well flowing words.

Do Not Use Excessive Words

Being concise is not an easy skill to master because you have to strip every sentence to its purest and simplest components. Every word is there for a reason and it might have been the end product of editing out and combining many more phrases. It might hurt a little at first when you take out chunks of what you believe are beautifully crafted words but if they serve no function, then they are weakening the post.

Edit Once, Then Edit Again And Again…

Your words or content in general should also be carefully chosen, written and edited. After all, great content not only demonstrates your ability as an excellent writer, but also showcases your brand’s inner beauty that attracts and retains audiences. In addition, use grammar checking applications or services to ensure your posts are grammatically correct.  It’s been said that a rough draft of a post is like one solid slab of stone.  Like Michelangelo did by carving away the extra pieces of stone to reveal the sculpture that was already present, you must carve away extra words to reveal the pure beauty of a piece.

Borrow A Quote

A quote from an industry expert or a well-known person can “kill two birds with one stone”: it holds readers’ attention and establishes the main points of your post with the bonus of adding some credibility.

Call To Action Is A Very Practical Technique

Mr. Ogilvy once again validated that “call-to-action” technique is a helpful technique that writers can use to wrap up their hard work because it calls the readers to engage with their content.

Ultimately,you want to influence your audience to take action. Whether it’s getting people inspired from your writings, having them learn useful tips or to sign up for your newsletter. The more engaging your content is, the more likely your call-to-action will be acted upon.

We’re sure Mr. Ogilvy’s world renown work will continue to inspire generations of marketers and advertisers. We have one last quote from David Ogilvy on creativity that we wanted to share:

“The creative process requires more than reason. Most original thinking isn’t even verbal. It requires ‘a groping experimentation with ideas, governed by intuitive hunches and inspired by the unconscious.’ The majority of business men are incapable of original thinking because they are unable to escape from the tyranny of reason. Their imaginations are blocked.”

We believe the most successful social media strategies are  ones that consistently deliver highly engaging, unique content that also emotionally inspire the hearts and minds of the right people.


Would you agree? Let us know in the comments below!