Why we need David Ogilvy for B2B Marketing Now

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Often we forget David Mackenzie Ogilvy, the “Father of Advertising”, who was trained at the Gallup research organization, attributed the success of his campaigns to meticulous research into consumer habits. His viewpoint on research, what we would call data driven marketing, can be summarized in one quote from his book Ogilvy on Advertising:

Advertising people who ignore research are as dangerous as generals who ignore decodes of enemy signals.

David Ogilvy - Father of Advertising on Headlines

There are too many gems to refer to David Ogilvy; let me focus on one topic today – headlines.

If you are advertising a kind of product bought by a small group of people, put a word in your headline that will flag them down, like asthma, bedwetters, women over thirty-five.

When we tested the theory with one of the campaigns we have been running for over three years – it was true!

The top twenty most engaging content headlines mentioned the target audience by job role, industry and geographic region. For example – CIO, Banking, India.

Headlines of ten words sell more merchandise than short headlines.

The same project I mentioned before showed the same result – most engagements came from content with headlines between 65 to 80 characters.

We tried and tested most of the principles stated by David Ogilvy, and in more than 90% of the cases – his theories still work even in the era of digital marketing. I’ll leave you with a few more ‘sermons’ from Ogilvy.

When you put your headline in quotes, you increase recall by an average of 28 per cent.

Some copywriters write tricky headlines – double meanings, puns and other obscurities. This is counter-productive. Your headline should telegraph what you want to say.

The subject of your illustration is all-important. If you don’t have a remarkable idea for it, not even a great photographer can save you.

If you include a testimonial in your copy, you make it more credible. Readers find the endorsements of fellow consumers more persuasive than the puffery of anonymous copywriters.

Readers look first at the illustration, then at the headline, then at the copy. So put these elements in that order – illustration at the top, headline under the illustration, copy under the headline.

Make your promise specific. Instead of generalities, use percentages, the time elapsed, dollars saved.

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