Time Magazine called him “the most sought-after wizard in today’s advertising industry.” He managed one of the most successful advertising firms in history for more than two decades, and he did it with the effortless charm of those we are so fond of calling talented.
If you were to ask those who work in advertising who’s the person who got them into the industry, most of them would say his name.
David Ogilvy. An eccentric character, Commander of the Order of the British Empire, the proud owner of a castle in France, Ogilvy was a phenomenal copywriter who revolutionized the world of advertising.
What I find most fascinating, however, was the mindset that often dictated his unorthodox approach towards his creative work.
1. Turn the Dunning-Kruger Effect on Its Head
I am a miserable duffer in everything except advertising. I cannot read a balance sheet, work a computer, ski, sail, play golf, or paint. But when it comes to advertising, Advertising Age says that I am “the creative King of Advertising.” When Fortune published an article about me and titled it: is David Ogilvy a Genius?, ” I asked my lawyer to sue the editor for the question mark.David Ogilvy
A healthy dose of arrogance can be the best cure for the Dunning-Kruger effect.
There are no question marks. There’s no room for doubt, and the bitter truth is that, in a world of half a billion blogs, the bottom is overcrowded by those who don’t believe in their abilities.
How do you build supreme self-confidence as a blogger?
- Confidence is the side-effect of doing the right thing for the right reasons. Don’t sell your soul for readers, don’t write about topics for the sole purpose of making money. Write about topics that inspire you, topics that engage you mentally and emotionally.
- Add a “the” before the word “blogger.” It’s uninspiring to call yourself a blogger. One out of millions of others. Instead, try to be one of a kind. Ogilvy competed in a class of his own.
- Look for validation in the right places. If the narrative doesn’t suit you, change it. Look for evidence of your talent, print out positive comments, and read them over and over again, early in the morning. Use them to build your confidence.
- The hustle keeps you humble. Focus on the work, focus on reaching for mastery, on making each of your articles the best article on that particular topic on the web. I wake up at four in the morning to punch the damn keys. I write two blog posts before everyone else wakes up.
Be more ambitious. Don’t bunt. When you get a job to do a story or an ad, try and hit the ball out of the park every time.David Ogilvy
Most bloggers out there struggle because they aim too low. They don’t want to make a dent in the universe, they want a bit of side-money. They just want a thousand readers. They want a few comments. They just want to know they’re not invisible.
Aim for the company of immortals. Each and every single day. And you will find yourself doing twice the work in half the time. You will realize that you can provide more value to more people in ways you never even thought possible.
2. Focus More on the Art Than the Craft
If you have a truly big idea, the wrong technique won’t kill it. And if you don’t have a big idea, the right technique won’t help you.David Ogilvy
Contrary to popular belief, ideas matter more than the execution. The words we use form the vehicle we use to arrive at our destination.
If the destination is not appealing, however, it does not matter what vehicle we arrive in.
The same principle applies to blogging. There’s an (almost) exact science to writing an article. There’s a plethora of advice, guides, and tutorials on how to write a compelling article, how to best format your article, or how to write a proper introduction.
Technique can be developed over time, but the right technique won’t help you if the idea is flawed.
Your readers will forgive you with your writing isn’t perfect, but they’ll unsubscribe from your blog and ignore you until the end of time if the ideas you present aren’t worth their time.
What kind of emotional response does your idea elicit from your readers?
Can your readers derive both pleasure and meaning from your idea?
If you share advice, does it feel like they can achieve the same results?
3. Show Your Readers the Respect They Deserve
The consumer isn’t a moron; she is your wife.David Ogilvy
If you read something that genuinely adds value to your life, odds are that the blogger actually respects you enough to not bend facts or clickbait you into reading their content.
They care enough about you that they always aim to deliver the most value possible without tapdancing around the truth or sugarcoating anything.
Try to write as if your ideal reader were going to read your post. Maybe it’s your significant other, maybe it’s your mom. It doesn’t matter. Write as if someone important to you is going to read your post, then let me know what that does to the quality of your content.
4. Leave People Speechless
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.David Ogilvy
Ever since I first read this, I thought, “Well, maybe I should try to write something so good no one ever comments.”
You should aim to create content that leaves people speechless. Something so good that it makes them stop and think, maybe even act.
You have to create the type of content they’d gladly pay for. If you’re not doing that, you’re wasting your time and your readers’ time.
A high-quality article is not just a product but acts as a sales agent as well. It persuades people into following your blog, checking out your other content, and even purchasing
A few questions to ask yourself before publishing your articles:
- Would someone pay to read these words?
- Do they find it so compelling that they feel inspired to think or take action?
- Is the writing powerful enough that people feel they should act right away?
5. Don’t Try to Sell Your Readers on the Idea That You’re Perfect
Tell your prospective client what your weak points are, before he notices them. This will make you more credible when you boast about your strong points.David Ogilvy
Vulnerability is the only way to be authentic enough that you’re readers trust you.
If you try to pretend that you’re perfect, you’re going to bore people to sleep.
I have always shared the truth, even when my fingers would shake against the keyboard. I wrote about my health issues, money issues, depression, and anxiety. I wrote about heartbreak. I wrote about all that from a personal perspective, and it hurt to do so, but I did it because the truth is the only way I can show others that I am just as real as they are.
If you want your readers to care about your blog, then you need to show them the real you. They are not interested in your highlights, they want the behind the scenes. And don’t try to trick your readers into thinking that everything’s beautiful and nothing hurts behind the scenes, because they know it’s not true.
David Ogilvy became the most important name in advertising because of his passion, supreme self-confidence, and the respect he had for his customers.
He focused on the idea, not the execution, and worked on his ideas until they were so good, people were left speechless.
If you follow his unconventional advice, you will be able to share your ideas with your readers with the confidence that they matter.