Create Intimacy With Your Readers

This week’s post from our #ThrowbackThursday series, “52 Advertising Lessons From Past Advertising Greats” comes from one of my favorites – David Ogilvy. (1911-1999). David Ogilvy is one the one persons who most inspired me to enter the crazy world of advertising. His genius behind the classic “Think small” campaign for Volkswagen still inspires me today. Although David Ogilvy often used a unique visual style with many of his print ads, his best talent was his copywriting.

Ogilvy insisted that the advertising message must be both creative and intimate. He said:

“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.”

There is probably no better example of intimate copywriting than a fundraising piece he wrote for the United Negro College Fund. The interesting part of this campaign is that the letters were placed on every seat of every train leaving Grand Central Station for the affluent neighborhoods. You can read David Ogilvy’s United Negro College Fund letter in PDF form here at the Showcase of Fundraising Innovation and Inspiration site. The letter raised $26,000 in one night (close to $200,000 in today’s terms).

Key Takeaways

  1. Try to write your copy with a conversational style. Use the same words as if you were speaking to the prospect one on one. Dig?
  2. “Talk to anyone in their own language and it goes to their heart”. If you want to be intimate with your audience, it helps to use their vernacular. Another Ogilvy maxim from the Aga Cooker manual is, “Find out everything you can about your prospects before you call on them…” By analyzing keyword research data and using social media as a listening tool, you can learn the desires and language of the prospective customer you are targeting.

For Hardcore Marketers Only

  • Read “The Theory and Practice of Selling The Aga Cooker”
    Before entering into the advertising field, David Ogilvy was a door to door salesmen for Aga Cooker (the Rolls Royce of ovens). After his superiors saw how much of a kick ass salesman he was, they asked Ogilvy to write a manual to share his success secrets. The result was one of David Ogilvy’s earliest and finest examples of intimate copywriting. “The Theory and Practice of Selling The Aga Cooker” was described as “probably the best sales manual ever written” by Fortune Magazine – 30 years after it was originally written.