Creativity or Science: Which Really Matters?

David MacKenzie Ogilvy
Image via Wikipedia

I just read a discussion on LinkedIn bemoaning the “death of creative.” Nobody remembers DDB (Bill Bernbach)! Everyone quotes David Ogilvy.  David Ogilvy was “mechanistic.” All his layouts looked the same.  It’s not creative.  It’s not sexy.

Maybe not.  However, Ogilvy’s ads looked the same because he measured response to find out what worked better.  He measured because he started with The Gallup Organization (pollsters). He probably read Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins.

Sure, I love creative stuff too.  But the truth is, you sell not by being creative (that makes you memorable and may win you awards).  You sell by measuring – seeing what works, tweaking, testing.  Rinse, lather, repeat.  Which do you really want? Awards?  Or cash?

(I’ll take the cash please).

Oh, and if you’d like a free copy of Scientific Advertising, you can download it here.

The 1920 Guide to 21st Century Marketing

1920 ad image

You’re probably wondering how anything published in 1920 could possibly be relevant in 2009. No twitter tips? No super-networker’s secrets on using LinkedIn? Not one.

The closest thing they had to social media were dead-tree newspapers and radio. And, hey, the music and the clothes were weird.

Technology has changed, but basic marketing principles are still the same. Debates rage over long or short copy now (as they did then), some companies try to sell to everyone (while others focus on a niche), and everyone looking at your ad, reading your blog, or scanning your letter wants to know what’s in it for them.

Should my copy be long or short?

Write as much (or as little) as you need to tell your story. Long isn’t better, and short isn’t better. Better is what works with your customers.

Use headlines, bold type, and bullets. Break the copy up into chunks, so it’s more readable. People will skim, but if they’re interested, they will read more closely.

Sell to your target market (not everybody)

You are talking to thousands of people. Some will be interested (some won’t). The response of people “in your industry” doesn’t matter. The response of your potential customers does. Try to strike a chord with them. If you are advertising cars, you have no use for non-drivers.

Nobody will read your entire ad to find out if your product is appealing. They will glance at it, and decide based on the headline or the picture. Talk only to the people you seek as customers.

Be specific, not vague

Saying “the best in the world” or “lowest prices” or “reliable” simply states the expected and obvious. They often lead readers to discount what you say, rather than believe you.

Instead, be specific. If the exhibits you designed attracted 37% more traffic, say so. There’s a reason why Ivory Soap is marketed as 99 44/100% pure.

The book? It’s called Scientific Advertising by Claude C. Hopkins. Click here for your free copy.

Photo: ClevelandSGS

Freebie Friday: Turn Your Advertising into a Science

freebie friday

Today’s Freebie Friday is a book written in 1923. While some of the references are a bit quaint and the brands long-gone, the information inside is as true now as it was then.

Even back then, there was a raging argument over whether copy should be long or short, because ‘people don’t read.’

In fact, this book is the basis for modern direct marketing (which is the basis for measurable internet marketing).

Should you say you’re the best in the world?

Does claiming the lowest prices in existence drive more sales?

Is it a good idea to focus on a specific group, or is it better to talk to as many people as possible?

To find out, <scientific-advertising>download your free copy of Scientific Advertising.