Amazon & Ogilvy

Today there was a knock at the door as the postman came to hand over a parcel from Amazon.

This time I got a couple of replacement books for my business library, as I’ve given some away recently. 

But I couldn’t resist picking up some more new materials too, so I’ve got a couple of books that aim to teach service businesses how to get clients easily.  I’m looking forward to those as it’s a topic close to my own heart!  I’m hopeful there will be some good ideas for financial services businesses hidden in them, which I shall report in due course.

I have the healthy habit of reading at least one business book every month.  Some months I’ll read two or three, other times I’ll struggle to finish one.  But as one of my clients, Darren, once said to me, "If I read just one book a month and learn only one thing from it, as long as I apply that in my business I will make 12 improvements a year".  It has served him well – his business has grown 5 times over in just 3 years.  It’s a habit you can enjoy, because you pick the books yourself, and it’s great for improving your business too.

The book I have just finished reading is Ogilvy On Advertising by David Ogilvy.  Ogilvy was the co-founder of Ogilvy & Mather, the most successful advertising agency in the world with a turnover in the billions.  

It is a book I have been meaning to read for quite some time.  If you like creating adverts and understanding the mechanics of marketing, it’s a great read.  It’s a walk through the history of advertising with David Ogilvy, arguably the greatest marketer of all time, as your guide.  He picks out some great ads, along with some that were failures, and explains the reasons for the difference in results.  While my description may sound dry, the book is anything but.  It’s witty, educational and fun to read if you love business.

The examples, because they are proven to work in their market, make a great model to use for creating your own ads, as long as you have a broad understanding of the structure of effective copy.

There are examples of great and not so great adverts, with explanations about what is so important in them.  He has a wonderfully sarcastic style that kept me chuckling away while I read it.  Here’s a nice one from near the end of the book, easy to find because it’s fresh in my mind still.

Recently I crashed my car beyond repair and had to buy a new one.  For six months I read all the car ads in search of information.  All I found was fatuous slogans and flatulant generalities.  Car manufacturers assume that you are not interested in facts.  Indeed, their advertising is not aimed at consumers.  Its purpose is to win an ovation when it is projected on the screen at hoopla conventions of dealers

The book covers all kinds of advertising including examples of TV ads.  These are shown in story-board format with the script underneath showing what is being said in each frame.  I think that Internet sites using video could learn something from these and I’ll certainly have another look.

If you’re old enough, you might remember the Superglue adverts where the presenter was stuck to a ceiling with a spot of the glue on each of his shoes.  There’s a picture of that one in the book and it turns out that Ogilvy & Mather created it.  Impressive stuff.  It covers brand advertising and certainly re-educated me to the value of doing this for a larger business.

Recommended.  But be warned, it’s not the best book for a beginner wanting practical assistance with writing an advert.

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