Thursday, January 17, 2013

Are You A Writer? Ask David Ogilvy.

Last week our company had a marketing consultant in to work with us on our 2013 Marketing Plan. She and her husband had built a printing company in Georgia and she had focused on the marketing and sales side of the business. When they sold the company she began a consulting company to help other printing companies improve their marketing efforts and that is how she and I got connected. During her time with us she said that everyone had the ability to write and communicate with the written word. The more I thought about this the more I find myself agreeing with her.

Many people say they are not "writers" which is true in most cases. But this doesn't mean those same people can't become writers. Writing is like so many other skills in that it takes time, work, energy and training to become good. Other than going to school to improve, it is always possible to find good information on how to improve in any area. The other day I came across 10 Tips on Writing from David Ogilvy. David was one of the classic advertising men that Mad Men was patterned after.

Here are his 10 Tips:

The better you write, the higher you go in Ogilvy & Mather. People who think well, write well.
Woolly minded people write woolly memos, woolly letters and woolly speeches.

Good writing is not a natural gift. You have to learn to write well. Here are 10 hints:

1. Read the Roman-Raphaelson book on writing. Read it three times.
2. Write the way you talk. Naturally.
3. Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs.
4. Never use jargon words like reconceptualize, demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass.
5. Never write more than two pages on any subject.
6. Check your quotations.
7. Never send a letter or a memo on the day you write it. Read it aloud the next morning — and then edit it.
8. If it is something important, get a colleague to improve it.
9. Before you send your letter or your memo, make sure it is crystal clear what you want the recipient to do.
10. If you want ACTION, don’t write. Go and tell the guy what you want.


Anyone can improve and become a "good writer" by spending the time and energy needed to improve.

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