The Best Writing Tips for Engaging Your Audience

Posted by Amy Peveto on December 23, 2014

I love writing, but it’s a tough gig. Relying on blogging “inspiration” is a terrible strategy, so you have to get used to knuckling down and just getting it done — and getting it done right.

Few writers and marketers did it better than David Ogilvy, a Manhattan advertising executive many called “The Father of Advertising.” He changed advertising and marketing the way the wheel changed long-distance travel.

Writing tips from David Ogilvy

In September 1982, Ogilvy sent the following memo to everyone on staff at his agency:

“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.”

These rules are solid gold, and should be painted in gigantic letters on the wall in every marketer’s office.

Think well, write well

Writing is just as much science as art; I rely on Ogilvy’s memo to provide the science and the story of what I’m writing to provide the art.

Great writing makes marketing better, consumers happier, and the world a better place.

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