David Ogilvy, described as one of the "Original Mad Men," is a legend in the world of advertising. A natural salesman and innovator, he went on to build the firm Ogilvy & Mather.

For years, Ogilvy created highly successful campaigns for top brands like Dove, Rolls Royce, Schweppes, and Shell.

It's clear that Ogilvy knows a thing or two about advertising. He was an expert in copywriting who understood the reasons people buy.

During his career, Ogilvy provided many insights into the world of advertising.

  • He talked a lot about the "Big Idea," which highlighted the importance of the headline in copywriting.

  • He also gave new focus to the target customer, requiring detailed research on individual sale prospects.

  • Ogilvy focused on finding prospects core buying emotions, understanding that the most successful way to sell people is not with the product, but on the lifestyle improvements the product provides.

  • Finally, he encouraged a philosophy of "Go Big Or Go Home."

Ogilvy did his research, and always spent the time necessary, to create game-changing campaigns.

You cannot cover the subject of David Ogilvy in a blog post. It would take an entire book to touch upon the depth of his advertising philosophies - and many great ones on his life and career do exist.

But what was Ogilvy's "Secret Weapon"?

It's an advertising and marketing technique that puts emphasis on driving sales over all else. It's called Direct Response Marketing.

First, let's discuss the difference between Direct Response Advertising and Image Branding.

Image Branding is typically vague, not directed at a targeted customer base, and hopes to create general awareness of a product. With most Image Branding, there is no call to action or even an option for the customer to make an immediate purchase.

We see Image Branding with many large corporations that have an established customer base and millions of dollars in their advertising budgets.

However, for small businesses dependent on generating direct and immediate sales, Direct Response Advertising is essential to consider.

Here are a few elements of Direct Response Advertising:

  1. Specific Target Audience - You don't waste time talking to everyone. You focus only on the precise customer that will purchase the product.
  2. Longer Copy - Longer copy is used to speak to the core emotions of your prospect. Telling customers "why" the product will benefit their life takes more than a single image.

  3. Offer & Deadline - A special offer, or call to action, is featured. Usually, this includes a sense of urgency that encourages customers to buy now.

  4. Guarantee - Whenever possible, it provides a guarantee. Added credibility supports the sale even further.

  5. Result Tracking - You can track how productive, based on how many sales, the promotion drove.

  6. Immediate Purchase - There is a clear option for a customer to make purchases on the spot. The entire advertisement is developed to drive direct sales.

Maybe your favorite brands don't promote products like this? Or, you might think all this sounds a bit too "salesy." That's fine... if you have the time, patience and money to build your brand first and generate sales later. But most of us don't.

Finally, don't assume the two methodologies, branding and direct response, cannot be used together. That would be a huge mistake. When it comes to good advertising, you can have your cake and eat it too.