I just finished a project that’s pretty exciting: an archive of marketing research called MakeYourCopyLonger.
I asked an indifferent copywriter what books he had read about advertising. He told me that he had not read any; he preferred to rely on his own intuition. ‘Suppose,’ I asked, ‘your gall-bladder has to be removed this evening. Will you choose a surgeon who has read some books on anatomy and knows where to find your gall-bladder, or a surgeon who relies on his intuition?’ This willful refusal to learn the rudiments of the craft is all too common. I cannot think of any other profession which gets by on such a small corpus of knowledge.
This is the absurdity of marketing, and I believe it’s one of the reasons that we have publications like the Onion mocking the craft (refer to World’s worst person decides to go into marketing). Most marketers, including myself, are Ogilvy’s naive doctor, lacking any knowledge beyond intuition and our personal “creativity.”
Marketing is like any discipline–tactics exist that are time-tested, research-based, and proven. In short, certain techniques will consistently out-perform others.
Think of some techniques in marketing which usually work. How many could you list? Ogilvy, regarding advertising, knew 96. Damn.
Marketing research is over a century old, and a year ago I could not recount a single tactic (and that’s after a degree is business!). Instead of relying on my intuition to create marketing strategies, I’ve decided to take the intellectual route and learn the rudiments of my craft.
My project, titled MakeYourCopyLonger, mirrors what Ogilvy practiced for 35 years, collecting techniques that will hone my craft and more effectively sell ideas. I’ve included many research insights from recent work in behavioral economics, as well as a few from advertising on design. For selfish purposes, I’ll keep it updated for reference when I’m drafting copy or creating a campaign.
And if you know of any facts that I’m missing, feel free to submit it via the link on the left column.