Direct Response Copywriter on David Ogilvy

You can read a great deal about David Ogilvy, online and off. You can read a great deal by David Ogilvy. He was a prolific author. His best book, although it’s more of a manual, was his guide to selling Aga cookers.

My goal in this blog is to focus on Ogilvy’s contributions to direct marketing and what you can learn from Ogilvy when it comes to direct response copywriting.

You can easily look up his background and other information.

Strangely, perhaps, Ogilvy is best known for his branding work. But he was a direct marketer first and foremost. If you need proof, then watch one of the most inspirational videos you’ll ever see. It’s called “We sell or else” and it does two things. Click here to see it.

First, it beats up branding types and branding advertising. Second, it’s proof that direct marketing works.

In fact, whenever I get into it with a branding type, I point them toward this video. I win.

Ogilvy was an excellent writer but he was also an excellent salesman. He must have sold a lot of Aga cookers. So he know how to sell. Every direct response copywriter must know how to sell. He knew how to sell accounts.

Dig a little bit and you’ll discover that Ogilvy built his agency though direct mail. He took a correspondence course on copywriting. He then solicited new clients by mail. And it clearly worked.

He called direct marketing “his secret weapon” and it proved he could produce tangible results for his clients. There was always a direct marketing department in his agency. I wonder if that’s the case today.

Dig around the Internet and you’ll come across a series of bold, full-page ads that appeared in The Wall Street Journal. You can see one here.

Dense copy and lots of it. I’m sure it worked.

This was not a branding exercise. This was all about generating leads from qualified potential clients.

But I'm mistaken, of course. It WAS a branding exercise. Here’s the “secret” the branding types don’t want you to know. Companies routinely build their brands through direct marketing and with the help of a direct response copywriter.

Two of my most successful clients have achieved tremendous brand recognition without spending any money on branding and not even thinking about branding. Yes … you can have your cake and eat it too.

David Ogilvy must have understood this important fact. Remember, he considered direct marketing to be his “secret weapon.”

He also wanted his creative talent, especially his copywriters, to understand direct marketing. It’s strange to me that so many people in advertising laud David Ogilvy yet totally ignore direct marketing. A bit of a mystery.

Yes … it’s important to study everything David Ogilvy achieved and how he achieved his success. But focusing purely on his branding work totally misses the point.

David Ogilvy was one of the world’s top direct marketers.