7 Marketing Tips You Can Learn from David Ogilvy


David Ogilvy was an advertising wizard. He moved from Great Britain to New York City to become the King of Madison Avenue. He became the King by creating some of the most iconic, and in turn, successful advertising campaigns of all time. What’s arguably just as impressive is that his marketing strategies, which he crafted from the ’60s through the ’80s, were so thought-provoking that they can still be applied to products and services today.

We found and dissected a handful of great quotes from Ogilvy to help ignite your marketing mind:

1. “In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative, original thinker unless you can also sell what you create.

Just because you’ve got a great product or service doesn’t mean that it’s going to knock it out of the ballpark sales-wise. You need to take the product or service and market it in a way that reaches and excites your target audience. Think about what you’re marketing and constantly reexamine the motivations behind the message you’re sending out about the product or service.

2. “Talent, I believe, is most likely to be found among nonconformists, dissenters, and rebels.”


Ogilvy is reminding people to think different. If you think like everybody else, you’re just going to have the same results as everybody else.

3. “If you’re trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language, the language they use every day, the language in which they think. We try to write in the vernacular.”

This is a reminder from Ogilvy to know your audience. If you don’t know your audience, you won’t be able to speak to them in a convincing or personalized way. Speak your audience’s language.

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

This is an Ogilvy way of saying that you need to do your research and then apply what you’ve learned to your marketing strategy. You should be shaping your decisions based on thoughtful and informative research.

5. “Never stop testing, and your advertising will never stop improving.”

Keep experimenting, learn from every experiment, and apply what you’ve learned to a new experiment. It seems like intuitive advice, but it’s easy to fall into a pattern of doing what you know and not experiment with your marketing tactics.

6. “Do not … address your readers as though they were gathered together in a stadium. When people read your copy, they are alone. Pretend you are writing to each of them a letter on behalf of your client.”

The master of advertising believed that it is important to remember you’re most often talking to an individual in an advertisement, not a group of people. If you remember this, it should help you connect with customers on a more personal level.

7. “Don’t bunt. Aim out of the ballpark. Aim for the company of immortals.”

Ogilvy was a strong believer in not aiming for small achievements, but rather aiming as high as possible. He also believed that every time you make a goal, make it (at least) a little bigger than your last goal.

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