6 Essentials to Creating Advertisements that Actually Sell

What You Need To Know To Creating Advertisements that Actually Sell 




“I do not regard advertising as entertainment or an art form, but as a medium of information. When I write an advertisement, I don’t want you to tell me that you find it ‘creative.’ I want you to find it so interesting that you buy the product.” – Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy (A MUST  read for every copywriter)


You’ll often find marketers today that are focused on the creative aspects of advertising and want to romanticize it as an art form, but Ogilvy only cares about one thing when creating an advertisement — selling.  


Here are David Ogilvy’s 6 Essentials to Creating Advertisements that Sell


1. Do Your Homework

  • There’s just no excuse for not researching the product and company that you are creating an ad for.
  • So, the first step in doing your homework is studying the product that you are going to advertise.
  • The next step is researching the advertising that the competition is using and measuring the success of those different ads.  As this gives you a milestone for comparison and insight into what has proven to work and what hasn’t.
  • The final step is to conduct research among consumers.
  • Find out what they think of the product and identify the exact language they use when talking about it.
  • Look for the claim or promise that is most likely to motivate them to buy from your brand.


2. Positioning

  • Ogilvy defines positioning as “what the product does and who it is for.”
  • Positioning makes it clear to consumers where your product fits into the market.
  • Without proper positioning, you present no valid reason for people to choose your brand over one that already exists.


3. Brand Image

  • Every product has a personality, just like people do.
  • This personality, or brand image, can make or break its success in the market.
  • The product’s name, price, packaging, advertising style, and the nature of the product itself all contribute to its image.


4.  The Big Idea

  • What sets apart advertising campaigns that last for even five years or more, from those that don’t make through a year is the big idea.
  • The big idea is where the art and science of advertising meet.
  • You have to do your homework and understand the principles of advertising to come up with a big idea, but there is no scientific method for making it happen.
  • It either comes to you or it doesn’t.
  • To recognize a big idea, you must ask yourself the following questions:
  • Did it make me gasp when I first saw it?
  • Do I wish I had thought of it myself?
  • Is it unique?
  • Does it fit the strategy to perfection?
  • Could it be used for 30 years?


5.  Make The Product The Hero

  • The product should be the hero of your advertisement whenever possible.
  • Your product either solves a problem or makes life better in some way — show consumers how that happens.
  • One of the biggest problems that copywriters face is creating advertisements for products that realistically are no different from their competitors.
  • Ogilvy says that all you can do is try to explain the benefits of the product in a more persuasive manner than the competition and try to add value through the style of your advertising.


6.  Repeat Your Winners

  • “If you are lucky enough to write a good advertisement, repeat it until it stops selling.”
  • This principle is simple but often overlooked.
  • Ogilvy notes that all too often good advertisements are discarded before losing their potency.
  • Ogilvy stresses that you should continue to measure the effectiveness of your campaigns and only make changes after you see a decrease in performance.



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To Your Success,
Joan Harrington


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18 thoughts on “6 Essentials to Creating Advertisements that Actually Sell

  1. The distinction between being creative and selling makes such a good point. I remember ever since I was in college that there was this creativity aura around advertising and around people that chose this career path.
    David Ogilvy’s principles are indeed practical and realistic. Thank you for sharing this insightful post!

  2. I am a paid, professional writer – yet, copywriting is an art and a specific writing style. I signed and paid for a writing course and alas, I am yet to complete it. Thanks for the reminder.

  3. Learning copywriting you can basically write your own paycheck. I’ve never heard of David Ogilvy but judging by this awesome content you just shared I need to read up on him some more. Good stuff Joan thanks!!

  4. I love that you said to make the product the hero. I think people crave for solutions..they want to better themselves… it should always offer them what they want to accomplish. I loved the questions you asked about the big idea. So often we say… wow… why did I not think of this myself? The concept was so easy… Thank you for theses tips. I have so much to learn. 🙂

  5. Hi Joan,

    Great Post! Brand and Positioning is very important for advertising any product.
    Thanks for sharing this informative post with us. 🙂

  6. Thanks for these great tips Joan. I agree with all six of your points here, each one is important but I have to say making the product the hero is key.

    Thanks for sharing. Have a great week!


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