Blogging is dead.

David Oglivy’s timeless wisdom on creating an ad that readers will love.

Blogging is dead.


A blog is really just a clever ad. Here’s how to craft the perfect post according to the original ad man.

Is blogging dead? Maybe.

But advertising’s not. And a blog post is just a clever ad.

Over half a century ago David Oglivy, master copywriter and expert ad man, defined the perfect ad. It’s eerily similar to what we call a blog post today.

This advice is taken straight from his magnum opus, Oglivy on Advertising. It's as true today as it was back in 1963.

News works well

The advertorial, the native ad, the boosted social post that looks like your pushy friend's puppy photos. We've all seen them. And we've all read them.

That's because they work.

Deliver something to readers that's new, interesting, and doesn't feel like an ad.

Information that's useful is best

I love this little piece of insight:

Some copywriters, assuming that the reader will find the product as boring as they do, try to inveigle him into their ads with pictures of babies, beagles and bosoms. This is a mistake.

Ogilvy on Advertising (p. 241)

No tricks, just the facts. That'll get people reading and eventually buying.

Layouts should be simple

Oglivy says that the best ads have an image that captures the spirit and truth of the product, a clear and powerful headline, and body copy that doesn't skimp (more on that later).

Black text on a white page is best. According to Oglivy, research shows that ads that are too "arty" just don't work.

Use headlines wisely

Promise a benefit, solve a problem, tell a story. Do it in just a few words.

Here's why:

Headlines get five times the readership of the body copy. If your headline doesn’t sell, you have wasted your money.

Ogilvy on Advertising (p. 241)

Headlines are what really sell what you're selling.

Body copy converts

Oglivy says only about 10% of readers actually read the body copy. But that doesn't matter. You should always include more than less.

Long copy – more than 350 words – actually attracts more readers than short copy.

Ogilvy on Advertising (p. 242)

Plus, those who bother reading the body copy are the ones who will buy. Better make it good.

Use photos to sell

It's important to have photos that show your product being used, or the results of your product.

Beyond that, Oglivy says include captions with your photos too. More people read these than body copy, which is why they should be mini-advertisements in themselves.

– Mike Doane


P.S. Don't walk away empty-handed

Above the Fold is a newsletter about the power of marketing. Every week I'll send you stories just like these on the art and craft of corporate myth-making.

C'mon, flip the page already.