The title of this post is a quote attributed to one of the biggest names in advertising, David Ogilvy. A recent article in BrandWeek pointed out that most advertising agencies don’t run any advertising. Now, what’s a person to think about the effectiveness of advertising given those two thoughts?

Advertising works, it’s just that most of the people who produce or sell advertising don’t have a clue how to make it work.

Advertising is looked at by most as a tool to create overall awareness. This approach can in fact be a benefit to small business, if the message is right, if the awareness that is created, spells out a benefit. More often then not awareness advertising seems to be an attempt to win advertising awards instead of new clients.

The point is that the most effective form of advertising for the small business does sell – not a product a service, but an action. A call to pick up the phone, surf the web or send an email to get something of value. To begin a relationship with the advertiser.

The good news about this approach to advertising is that you don’t need clever copy, gorgeous models or full pages. You only need a very strong offer targeted at the right audience. Sell permission to educate your prospect and you will find that advertising does indeed work quite well. Heck, I bet ad agencies that practiced this type of advertising could even find new clients.

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John Jantsch

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.
  • Interesting. Think the call to action point is very valid.


  • Sort of off point, but I thought the actual quote from Ogilvy was that only 50% of adverting works… and the problem is that no one knows which half…


  • John Jantsch

    I think he also said that 50% of hitting is 90% mental

  • And I thought that was Yogi Berra. 🙂

    P.S. On a more serious note–and maybe I’ve said this here before–but I like asking new customers where they heard about my CPA practice. Then, when I record their first invoice, I set their customer type (this is within QuickBooks) to “web,” “newspaper ad,” “yellow pages,” “direct mail,” etc.

    It’s pretty easy to then do a report that breaks revenue down by “customer type.” And that lets you calculate ROIs on one’s various marketing and advertising gambits.

    Even if one doesn’t want to do this with every customer, a bit of sampling often yields real insights…

    Er, maybe I’ll mention that I wrote the book QuickBooks for Dummies…


  • Ah, yeah, that’s it. 🙂

    I also wrote Quicken for Dummies and a bunch of other books. The Wall Street Journal did a little write-up on me a few years ago (2001?) and called me the Louis L’Amour of computer books. I think they counted something like 130 titles…

    It was, shall we say, my manic stage…

    Steve Nelson

  • John Jantsch


    QuickBooks as a CRM program, now you’re talking my language – great tip too!

    QuickBooks for Dummies are you talking about this one

  • When I worked in the newspaper biz, the catchphrase was “I don’t care what you say about me, as long as you spell my name right.” It’s ALL about branding, isn’t it…

  • Roy Coffman

    In talking about the famous David Ogilvy in his “Ogilvy On Advertising” he makes the observation whendiscusing research. On page nine of that book he remarks “I sometimes wonder if there is a tacit conspiracy among clients, media and agencies to avoid putting advertising to such acid tests. Everyone involved has a vested interest in prolonging the myth that all advertising increases sales to some degree. It doesn’t.” He’s right.

  • Does Your Ad Generate Action?
    John Jantsch has a good post about the old David Ogilvy quote that “Ninety-nine percent of advertising doesn’t sell much of anything.” And why not? John thinks it’s because most advertising tries to create overall awareness.

  • The 9 Ingredient Formula To Boost Your Business
    There’s a big problem with small business marketing. I’m not saying that to sensationalize the subject, I believe it. There’s indeed something wrong and it’s pervasive.