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David Ogilvy: 7 Marketing Quotes from the Father of Advertising

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Marketing trailblazer David Ogilvy, has in many ways defined the business world as we know it today. Through his company Ogilvy & Mather, Ogilvy worked with countless well-known brands from Rolls Royce to Dove, crafting some of the most effective advertising campaigns ever created.

The following quotes from the father of advertising, are examples of his timeless approach to advertising and gives us a glimpse into the mind of the man himself:

1. “The more facts you tell, the more you sell. An advertisement’s chance for success invariably increases as the number of pertinent merchandise facts included in the advertisement increases.”

Ogilvy was a firm believer in providing the customer with the facts from the get-go. Of course, you’ve no doubt heard that benefits, should come before features, and Ogilvy agreed: “The key to success is to promise the consumer a benefit — like better flavour, whiter wash, more miles per gallon, a better complexion.”

But that doesn’t mean they should be substituted for the facts and features of a product or service. After all, how likely are you to buy something without having the faintest idea of what it does?

2. “Tell the truth, but make the truth fascinating.”

It’s always better to tell the truth, rather than relying on heavy-handed and misleading techniques. However, common-sense should prevail and compel you to forever remain faithful to the facts. Consumers aren’t stupid – particularly in this day and age – and if you’re bending the truth, at some point or another, you’ll come unstuck, which is a difficult position to come back from. Having said that, it doesn’t mean your truth needs to be boring, as the man himself said, make it fascinating. 

3. “Another profitable gambit is to give the reader helpful advice or service. It hooks about 75 per cent more readers than copy which deals entirely with the product.”

Ogilvy defines two kinds of helpfulness:

  1. Helping a prospective customer understand the product
  2. Offering the consumer valuable advice and information free of charge

The latter point is an early iteration of content marketing. By offering someone a thought or some words of advice, free of charge, they’re much more likely to return to you in the future. 

For example, Ogilvy suggested offering free recipes for companies in the food industry. This is a compelling idea, as it increases the chances of customer engagement, without focusing your marketing solely on the product itself.

4. “Unless your campaign has a big idea, it will pass like a ship in the night.”

Whether you’re writing copy, designing a new website, or undertaking any form of marketing, it’s essential to be completely transparent about your objectives. As Ogilvy elaborates: “Most campaigns are too complicated. They reflect a long list of objectives and try to reconcile the divergent views of too many executives. By attempting to cover too many things, they achieve nothing. Their advertisements look like the minutes of a committee.”

5. “You cannot bore people into buying your product; you can only interest them in buying it.”

One of the cardinal sins of marketing, and many other walks of life, is being uninteresting. In order to grab engaged interest, you need to be charismatic; there is simply no way around it when you’re trying to sell something. No matter how niche your product or service is, there will always be competition in some form, so it’s important to steal a march on them.

In order to gain people’s attention, you need to understand who they are, what they want, what interests them, and what motivates their behaviour. By gaining this valuable insight into the customer, you’ve got an excellent opportunity to speak to them about something they hold an interest in, which makes what you have to say far more appealing.

6. “The consumer isn’t a moron, she is your wife.”

This idea brings all of the previous points together, and without it, nothing much is going to happen. If you don’t take the time to understand who your customer is, there will be no big idea, you won’t be able to provide all the facts, and you certainly won’t be capturing the right kind of interest in your product or service.

You need to demonstrate that you understand your customer’s thoughts and feelings, and you know exactly what they need. You can achieve this, in Olgivy’s words by: “…writing your copy in the colloquial language which your customers use in everyday conversation.”

7. “Golden rewards await the advertiser who has the brains to create a coherent image, and the stability to stick with it over a long period.”

Ogilvy was a big advocate of brand consistency, and his ideas on this subject are still steadfast to this day. Ogilvy understood that, in order to achieve brand consistency over the long-term, you must first define exactly what your brand is with a certain amount of discipline and restraint. Ogilvy says, “Most manufacturers are reluctant to accept any limitation on the image of their brand. They want it to be all things to all people … They generally end up with a brand which has no personality of any kind, a wishy-washy neuter. No capon ever rules the roost.”

Takeaways 

David Ogilvy based his career around 7 core principles that we’ve mentioned in this blog:

  1. Give the Facts
  2. Be Truthful
  3. Be Helpful
  4. Have a “Big Idea”
  5. Don’t Be Boring 
  6. Understand Your Customer 
  7. Stay True to Your Brand

These were covered in his book, “Confessions of an Advertising Man”, released back in 1963. And although at the time of writing, these principles are 57 years old (in actual fact, they are probably older given Ogilvy started his agency in 1949), all 7 are still incredibly essential tools in the modern marketer’s arsenal, and you’d be foolish to dismiss them.

Of the 7 quotes above, which one is your favorite and why? Share your thoughts with us below!

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30 Most Famous Quotes of All Time to Motivate You

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It seems in the last decade or so, motivational quotes and inspirational quotes are front and center on Facebook and Instagram feeds. It’s no wonder why. They really do have that impactful kick to make you get up and do stuff!

I know for me, it was all these quotes that I kept reading that:

  • pushed me out of my comfort zone
  • gave me courage to smash goals
  • helped me believe in myself
  • soothed my broken heart sometimes
  • helped me out of rock bottom, and
  • kept me strong in times of trouble

Legends like Les Brown, Joel Brown and Tony Robbins motivated the crap out of me. I stayed strong and focused because of their powerful words. I mean, they did quote all these inspirational words to motivate us, no?

Of course they did. So I’ve searched high and low for the best and most empowering famous quotes of all time in hopes they inspire you like they did me. 

Do quotes really help?

The answer is yes and no. No they won’t work if you read them, brush them off and never feel the power of their words.

Yes they will work if you make them work for you and you want them too. Quotes are like affirmations. Many of us recant affirmations either as part of our morning routine, evening routine or just whenever we need a boost. 

When you read them and repeat them out loud and feel each and every word in every ounce of your being, they work!! Besides, I’m living proof they help. Empowering quotes have helped me out of rock bottom twice, depression a few times, and helped me smash and achieve goals. 

So yes, they work. And these most famous quotes I’ve chosen are famous for a reason. They have inspired, motivated and empowered millions of people around the world to chase their dreams, believe in themselves and never give up. 

Without further ado…

10 famous quotes on taking action and not giving up

1. The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing. ~Walt Disney

2. Anybody who ever accomplished anything big or new or worth raising a celebratory fist in the air did it from their comfort zone. They risked ridicule and failure and sometimes even death. ~Jen Sincero

3. Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, either way, you’re right. ~Henry Ford

4. The woman I am today would like to thank the woman I was 5 years ago for not giving up. You’re awesome. ~Iva Ursano

5. I’ll try is the battle cry of wimps. ~Tony Robbins

6. You must be the change you wish to see in the world ~Ghandi

7. If you judge people, you have no time to love them. ~Mother Teresa

8. Those who dare to fail miserably, can achieve greatly. ~John Kennedy

9. Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. ~Dalai Lama

10. I want to be in the arena. I want to be brave with my life. And when we make the choice to dare greatly, we sign up to get our asses kicked. We can choose courage, or we can choose comfort, but we can’t have both. Not at the same time. ~Brené Brown

10 famous quotes on life

11. There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. ~Maya Angelou

12. If you look at what you have in life, you’ll always have more. If you look at what you don’t have, you’ll never have enough. ~Oprah Winfrey

13. The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. ~Lao Tzu

14. The mind is everything. What you think you become. ~Buddha

15. Everything you do and every decision you make should be from a place of good. You should always be striving to make the world a better place. ~Les Brown

16. You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough. ~Mae West

17. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too. ~Paulo Coelho

18. When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on. ~Franklin D.Roosevelt

19. If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way. ~Napoleon Hill

20. Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself. ~George Bernard Shaw

10 famous quotes on success

21. The secret of getting ahead is getting started. ~Mark Twain

22. All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them. ~Walt Disney

23. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. ~Martin Luther King Jr

24. Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies. ~Nelson Mandela

25. If you surround yourself with positive people who build you up, the sky’s the limit. ~Joel Brown

26. Tough times never last but tough people do. ~Robert H. Schuller

27. You miss 100% of the shots you never take. ~Wayne Gretzky

28. If you’re going through hell, keep going. ~Winston Churchill

29. I have not failed. I just found 10,000 that won’t work. ~Thomas A. Edison

30. Often our most rewarding dreams are staring us right in the face but for some reason we focus on how hard things are, how we are scared of the unknown and what would happen if we failed. ~Joel Brown

Write them out!

I always tell people to write that out and stick it in a place you will see it and read it everyday. That’s how quotes work. 

My favourite famous quote of all time and one you should read over and over again, Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, either way you’re right. Read that when self doubt creeps in. 

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7 Quotes Every High Achiever Must Remember

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40 Inspirational Quotes on Victory That Will Motivate You to Win

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