Ogilvy on Advertising

by Wojciech Adam Koszek   ⋅   Jan 13, 2017   ⋅   Menlo Park, CA

Book by the master. I learned about Ogilvy from YouTube; by complete accident. Immediately after I order this book. Read what I learned.

So you have built something and you want to sell it. Direct approach probably works best, and you can blast the information about your product to the potential prospects through the e-mail. But you don’t know how?

You’ve never done it, right? You just keep making websites and software, and you’re good at it, but somehow your stuff isn’t gaining traction?

Do you make it a short e-mail, with a simple image on top? Or a long one, explaining everything step-by-step?

You don’t know this, right?

And you don’t know how to measure the success of your “effort” probably? I mean you do know how to send an e-mail, but you don’t know if it really did anything?

This book could be the best introduction about the nature of selling. And using ads as a way of selling.

Don’t get me wrong - this is an old book, and sometimes it talks about things which may no longer be relevant for the Internet, but this book helped me to understand what advertising really is, how people in the past approached it, and in general why things are the way they are.

Ogilvy was a door-to-door salesman, the profession which I believe no longer exist. He got a lot of insights into the selling process from that. After creating his own agency, he used all this knowledge.

Writing ads is done by copywriters. Most of the time. This was another advantage of this book: if you don’t know it yet, you’ll get to learn about copywriters and how successful they can be.

I don’t remember how I learned about this book, but I bought it shortly after. Ogilvy was a maker of some of the best ad campaigns in the 20th century.

There’s a lot of findings in his research, and this book appears to be a summary of a lot of these things.

Once again – it was all about print.

Using long headlines of 10 words worked best.

Making ad not look like an ad made readership be 6 times bigger.

Ads presented as negatives, with a black background, don’t work.

Using a large type for the headline worked best. The headline was the most read piece of the ad. Copy body wasn’t read as much.

Using sub headlines worked very well. They were in the middle of body copy/headline readership.

Using famous people in your ad won’t work. It’s good news to you. Having Serena Williams advertise your website or software would be hard. So it’s funny, since we all in theory could advertise our own products.

Using cartoons in your ads didn’t work, unless you advertised to kids. For adults, images worked best.

Color ads converted much better. This is interesting, since he mentioned printing in 4 colors was extremely expensive back in a day. But for the web, we get all 4 billion colors on the screen for free. Use it wisely.

This is just a part what you’d like, if you read this book.

I need to find something more relevant for modern day realities, but I feel this book got me started with advertising. This should work for you too.

“Getting things done”

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About the author: I'm Wojciech Adam Koszek. I like software, business and design. Poland native. In Bay Area since 2010.   More about me