In the world of copywriting, there are some masters we can all learn from. Here are 5 of my favourite thoughts from the best of the best.
- “Write the way you talk. Naturally.”
David Ogilvy’s 1982 memo “Tips on writing” could fill this list by itself but my number one spot is taken by my favourite. I used to make the same point to script writers at the BBC. “Who actually talks like this?” I always think about real people when I’m writing and I either use my own voice, or theirs. It’s great advice.
- “The most powerful element in advertising is the truth.”
Bill Bernback was one of Ogilvy’s main competitors. Advertising Age listed him as their number one advertising influencer of the twentieth century. If you really know your brand and your product then speak the truth about it. Your audience will recognise that and respond.
- “The best advertising should make you nervous about what you’re not buying.”
Mary Wells is the woman Peggy from Mad Men would probably have looked up to. She was the first female CEO of a company listed on the US stock exchange. She fought against the glass ceiling and smashed it.
- “Content is the reason search began.”
Lee Odden, MD of TopRank Marketing USA, is reported to have said this. I know I observed this myself when I started out and made a lovely meme about it (see above), so I’d agree have to with him. People go online to find something to look at, something to do, something to consume or react to. As copywriters and content producers, our job is to give it to them and connect that to our clients products and brands. What I love about this quote today is that it resonates with Facebook’s new meaningful interaction priority. Content marketing has only just begun.
- “Social media is a lot like baseball. Everyone must play by the same set of rules.”
In 2012 Heidi Cohen wrote a post comparing social media to baseball. But she added “The big difference is that on social media platforms the rules are unstated and enforced by the community while in baseball they’re well defined and enforced by umpires.” If you want to know more about writing for social media, Heidi is someone we can all learn from. She has great foresight, and her Actionable Marketing Guide is a fantastic resource for all digital content writers.