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E-Marketing Performance Blog

Book Review: Ogilvy on Advertising (cont.)

Ogilvy on Advertising
Author: David Ogilvy
Paperback: 224 pages, $24.95
Published: 1983

I am going to continue on from last weeks review and skip to Wanted: a renaissance in print advertising. This chapter points out important print know-how, put on the back burner with the advent of TV commercials.

First Ogilvy discusses headlines. He states that people read the headline five times more often than they read the body copy. Ogilvy’s key points are that all headlines should:

  • Promise the reader a benefit, contain news, or offer helpful information.
  • Always include your brand name.
  • Include a word or flag to draw in target market, ie. Asthma, women…
  • Shorts headlines get more readership, while longer headlines get more conversions.
  • Specifics are more attractive than generalities.
  • “Quotation marks increase recall rates.”
  • Tricky headlines are counter-productive.
  • Always state what the product is and what it can do for your customers.
  • Always use a headline to avoid a “headless wonder”.

Ogilvy points out several important factors to consider when including an illustration in your advertisement. Most importantly the subject of the illustration should be relevant to the ad. The photograph should rouse the reader’s curiosity. It should tell a story that your product is included in. The illustration should spotlight your product as the solution or demonstrate the end result of using your product or service.

Photographs attract more readers. A photo of a popular character increases recollection of the ad. However, faces enlarged beyond life size tend to repel readers. Do not show the clients face, use a photo that can be universally recognized. Make the illustration as simple as possible. Just as with headlines you don’t want to confuse your reader. Color ads tend to do better too.

People are attracted to ads featuring members of the same sex, so if your audience consists primarily of women, advertise with women.

Next he goes over body copy. The average readership is only five percent, but that is a ton when you consider the amount of people viewing the magazine. Many copywriters make the mistake of addressing the audience as a crowd. Don’t! Address each individual, make them feel special. Write short sentences and paragraphs. Don’t bore your readers and avoid difficult words. The average reading level of the average American is that of a fifth grader.

Writing copy in the form of a story rather than an essay is far more effective. Avoid analogies and superlatives. Instead include a testimonial in your copy. You can write the whole ad in the form of a testimonial. These featuring celebrities produce more recalls. Markdowns and specials are gold to readers. If you can, include the price in your ad. This targets your audience better.

Long copy sells more than short copy because the reader feels comfortable that you have provided enough information and are trustworthy in that you provide more detail. All consumers are skeptic when uninformed.

Lastly I’ll list what Ogilvy says about typography:

  • A two line subhead between headline and body copy increases readership.
  • Starting body copy with drop-initials increases readership.
  • Opening paragraphs should be no more than 11 words.
  • Insert a cross-head after 2-3 paragraphs of copy.
  • Short lines increase readership.
  • Bold or italicize key paragraphs.
  • Use bullets or numbers to connect concepts that do not connect naturally.
  • Line space between paragraphs increases readership.
  • Use 11 point font.
  • Black type on a white background is easier to read than type on a dark background.

To Be Continued…

Max Speed

If the Pole Position Marketing team had a muse—and it does—it would be Max Speed. We love Max’s occasionally off-color, usually amusing and always pointed “Maxisms.” (Maybe “Maxims” would be a better word.) Max gives voice to some of the things we think but, bound by professional decorum, aren’t permitted to say. At least, not out loud.

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