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“Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others” – Otto von Bismarck

I find it amazing just how much wisdom we can freely absorb from the great minds of the marketing and advertising world. While it would take many lifetimes to learn what the Ogilvy’s, De Bono’s, and Bernbach’s of this world knew, we can become substantially better marketers by heeding their wise words of advice.

David Ogilvy Quote

On the reality of advertising & marketing

“We need to stop interrupting what people are interested in & be what people are interested in.” – Craig Davis

“Nobody counts the number of ads you run; they just remember the impression you make.”
– Bill Bernbach

“Nobody reads ads. People read what interests them, and sometimes it’s an ad.”
-Howard Luck Gossage

“The only people who care about advertising are the people who work in advertising”
– George Parker

On Being Different & Breaking The Rules

“By definition, remarkable things get remarked upon” – Seth Godin

“Rules are what the artist breaks; the memorable never emerged from a formula”
– Bill Bernbach

“In advertising, not to be different is virtually suicidal” – Bill Bernbach

On Being Ethical

“Never write an advertisement which you wouldn’t want your family to read. You wouldn’t tell lies to your own wife. Don’t tell them to mine”
– David Ogilvy

“Advertising is only evil when it advertises evil things.” – David Ogivly

On Product Quality

“If dogs don’t like your dog food, the packaging doesn’t matter” – Stephen Denny

“Don’t find customers for your product. Find products for your customers” – Seth Godin.

“Give them quality. That’s the best kind of advertising.” – Milton Hershey

On Simplicity

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” — Leonardo Da Vinci

“Make it simple. Make it memorable. Make it inviting to look at” – Leo Burnett

“If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it well enough yourself” – Albert Einsteen

On knowing your audience

“If you want to understand how a lion hunts, don’t go to the zoo. Go to the jungle.” – Jim Stengel

“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.”
– Peter Drucker

On Creativity

“Curiosity about life, in all its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people.”
– Leo Burnett

“Creativity may well be the last legal unfair competitive advantage we can take to run over the competition.” – Dave Trott

“Creativity without strategy is called art, creative with strategy is called advertising”
– Prof. Jef L. Richards

On Talent

“An idea can turn to magic or dust, depending on the talent that rubs against it” – Bill Bernbach

On Communication & Sharing

“Think like a wise man but communicate in the language of the people” – William Butler Yeats

“In our factory, we make lipstick. In our advertising, we sell hope.”
-Peter Nivio Zarlenga

“I don’t know the rules of grammar… If you’re trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language, the language they use every day, the language in which they think. We try to write in the vernacular.”
– David Ogilvy

“Don’t tell me how good you make it; tell me how good it makes me when I use it.” – Leo Burnett

“People share, read and generally engage more with any type of content when it’s surfaced through friends and people they know and trust – Malorie Lucich, Facebook

“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” – David Ogilvy

“People spend money when and where they feel good” – Walt Disney

On Building a Brand

“There isn’t any significant difference between the various brands of whiskey, or cigarettes or beer. They are all about the same. And so are the cake mixes and the detergents, and the margarines… The manufacturer who dedicates his advertising to building the most sharply defined personality for his brand will get the largest share of the market at the highest profit.” – David Ogilvy

On the importance of advertising & marketing

“Stopping advertising to save money is like stopping your watch to save time.” – Henry Ford

“Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you are doing, but nobody else does” – Steuart Henderson Britt

Marcus Taylor is the founder of Venture Harbour. He’s also an early-stage investor, advisor & the youngest Patron of The Prince's Trust.

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