David Ogilvy: 9 Great Business Principles.
Don’t bunt. Aim out of the ball park. Aim for the company of immortals.
– David Ogilvy
David Ogilvy, the first leader to successfully incorporate corporate culture into the DNA of an advertising agency (Ogilvy & Mather). Perhaps the main reason why his Ogilvy & Mather attained the level of success it has achieved over the years. Great businesses focus relentlessly on developing a strong sense of corporate culture that employees can identify with and customers respect.
Outlined in this article are some of the key philosophies David Ogilvy prioritized, and his strategies for successfully developing advertising campaigns for clients. Insights that are certainly of value to any organization and can be explored in further detail in his book “Confessions Of An Advertising Man”.
DAVID OGILVY PRINCIPLES: THE BIG IDEA
This is a principle that David Ogilvy applies to advertising. However, we think it is equally applicable to your business beyond advertising (although it needs to be clearly articulated in advertising campaigns).
What is the big picture? What value does your business truly bring to the marketplace? People want to engage with businesses that provide something extraordinary. Focus on creating a big idea that people can really buy into.
Most smaller businesses fear to make large assertions, because they simply “Aren’t in a position, to make these claims.” However, some of the most successful people and businesses have always had this sense of their Big Idea, and they weren’t afraid to proclaim it.
Tommy Hilfiger ran his first advertising campaign in Time Square claiming to be “The Next Big Thing In Fashion.” Comparing himself to Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein. This big idea would be the kick start his brand needed to grow into a fashion empire and cause disruption in the industry.
David Ogilvy claimed that 1 out of 100 advertisements had the big idea behind them.
DAVID OGILVY PRINCIPLES: CULTIVATE INDIVIDUAL IDENTITY TO GAIN AN EDGE
This is something we have battled with and so have businesses we’ve encountered. During the competitive analysis process, we sometimes get too focused on what other businesses are doing, and how to replicate their ideas, that we begin to lose sight of our own unique culture.
Being authentic is an important aspect in building brand continuity, and a culture that drives real success. Being a me-too business, or trying to replicate a culture can be a troubling process. Proper consideration of the true culture that underlies your individual decision making(as a business) needs to be included.
DAVID OGILVY PRINCIPLES: LEADERS NEED A FOUNDATION OF FUNDAMENTALS
There is something valuable in understanding the fundamentals of how a business works. From the products and services side.
We have recently been working with a Commercial General Contractor, developing their brand and some digital assets. They are running into issues with hiring great Project Managers. Many of them come out of university, with a strong foundation of book skills, but lack the first-hand experience trades workers have. They have shared their insight that the best Project Managers come from the trades because they have a solid foundation of the technical aspects of the job.
David Ogilvy talks about his experience working as a chef in the Hotel Majestic in Paris before becoming an expert in advertising. The most notable part, is how he regarded his head chef, Monsieur Pitard.
In addition to all his management responsibilities of determining menus, ordering supplies and running the restaurant. Monsieur Pitard would step out from behind his desk each week and cook. The chefs under him would gather round and watch in awe as he displayed his skills as a true master chef.
DAVID OGILVY PRINCIPLES: OBJECTIVISM & KINDNESS GO HAND-IN-HAND
Objectivism is a term that is often associated with successful people. Objectivism is that single-minded focus towards achievement that drives them to success. A term coined by philosopher Ayn Rand and explored in her books (The Fountainhead & Atlas Shrugged). Where she focuses on this objectivism in depth.
The interesting part to me is the view David Ogilvy has on objectivism and kindness.
Not only did his business support a culture that rewarded hard work, thoroughness, and freedom. David Ogilvy emphasized the point of being honest, having strong character, treating client’s projects as if they were his own. Lastly acting in a gentle manner with colleagues.
DAVID OGILVY PRINCIPLES: INTERNAL COMMUNICATION SHOULD BE WELL WRITTEN, EASY TO READ,
We are firm believers in the philosophy “If you can’t explain something simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” There are a number of great thinkers and business innovators that share the same philosophy as David Ogilvy.
Elon Musk, Founder of Telsa, SpaceX and SolarCity, is another great example.
In the recent book on Elon: “Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future” One notable takeaway is that Elon has all but banished the use of acronyms from meetings and internal communications.
Elon’s point, some people don’t understand what the acronym stands for, and they don’t want to look incompetent. So they simply pretend like they understand.
From this point on communication is not as effective because everyone is no longer on the same page.
DAVID OGILVY PRINCIPLES: SIMPLIFY MARKETING OBJECTIVES
This is a big one in our world. When discussing with a client or business about marketing, they often throw their whole list of products and services at us and want them all incorporated in a single email, or a one-page flyer.
Truth is, this is distracting and creates chaos in the mind of anyone looking at it, that doesn’t work for the customer or the company.
Instead of trying to save money, by telling the whole company message in one attempt. Focus on the products and services that really drive your value, and create simple marketing material that focuses on these individual items and the benefits they directly have to your customers.
Draw customers in with the big picture, and have conversations with them that dive into the different aspects of your business as it relates to their challenges.
DAVID OGILVY PRINCIPLES: FOCUS ON THE PROMISED BENEFIT TO THE CONSUMER
Many businesses are too focused on themselves. They don’t fully understand that customers want to be the focus of attention. When working to develop blog strategies, advertisements, and other marketing materials. Try to consider the point David Ogilvy makes about making the promised benefit to the consumer the highest priority.
Do they want to read about the inner workings of your company retreats? Maybe, but more than likely they would rather be reading about information that is relevant to making their lives better.
Unfortunately, the majority of people are inherently selfish, so businesses need to play into this by creating content, and advertisements that feed people’s ego accordingly.
DAVID OGILVY PRINCIPLES: YOU CAN’T BORE PEOPLE INTO BUYING PRODUCTS, ONLY INTEREST THEM
This principle by David Ogilvy may seem like common sense.
Businesses often focus on mundane or technical aspects during their sales process that does not create excitement for their customers.
Sure knowing industrial data and specifications is an important factor for those businesses selling products that require this information. However, the most successful teams find a way to integrate this information in an engaging manner.
Think about this example. When mobile companies are selling data plans, they could only focus on the raw facts that users will have 5gb of data per month.
If you’ve shopped around you’ll notice this becomes more attractive when service providers put these numbers in the right context. A couple thousand hours of music streaming, hundred hours of video streaming etc. This creates a tangible vision of the value the customer will receive, which likely creates interest.
DAVID OGILVY PRINCIPLES: ANYONE CAN OFFER A PRICE REDUCTION, IT TAKES BRAINS AND PERSERVERANCE TO BUILD A BRAND
You live by the sword, you’ll die by it. Price competition is one of those things that is often regarded as the low hanging fruit.
Even though, studies have shown that once price becomes the main factor for decision making, many industries are hurt as a whole.
Look at companies like Apple, who rarely offers price discounts on new products to drive new sales.
Instead, Apple focuses the money they would have otherwise spent through price discounts on establishing a brand and culture that attracts customers who are willing to pay the price for their products.
With the release of the Apple iPhone X living up to the hype with customers waiting in lines for upwards of 24 hours in some cases, to ensure they have the latest product.
Now that is a brand, and it is also reflected in their stock price!