The David Ogilvy Approach to Content Marketing


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Why fill the top of the funnel with leads to let them rot?  

It’s expensive to drive campaign responses.   Once the target persona responds to a campaign there is often a content anticlimax.  The content to acquire the response is far superior to the content to drive conversion. 

Style over substance ruins conversion metrics.  Marketing teams focus on driving inquiries without attention to content.  CMO’s primarily invest in campaigns, marketing automation and lead management capabilities. Content Marketing is left to languish. 

Content Marketing has stymied CMO’s.  The concept is simple, but the execution has been poor.  Marketing leaders know the value of investing in creative briefs to execute campaigns.   In contrast there is limited planning, if any, for content marketing.   

Ask yourself, how David Ogilvy would have tackled content marketing?  He would have taken a similar route as he did with campaign development.  Invest in audience planning and understand the mental shift required to convert.

The Content Marketing Project Brief includes unique approaches to the following;

  • Storyline direction
  • Buyer Process Map tracking
  • Content authoring guidance
  • Mindset shift insight


A recent study released by Mass Relevance hits on this topic.  95% of CMOs said that content marketing is important to their business in 2014.  The same percentage indicate that content is one of the biggest challenges this year. “Many CMOs expressed concern with building a strong content marketing program.  Requiring relevant, timely content tailored to each stage of our sales funnel.”

World class marketing teams utilize creative briefs when creating campaigns.  When creating content to support campaigns marketing managers want to snap their fingers.  They approach content in an ad-hoc manner.   

Content Marketing development is a blind spot.  Take John for example.  John is a demand generation manager for a Fortune 500 B2B technology leader.  He has been given the green light to execute a campaign to launch a new product in Q3.  John approaches developing the marketing campaign completely different than how he executes Content Marketing.   The way John manages the campaign development involves best practice approaches.

David Ogilvy would be proud.  John starts by investing 2.5 hours researching, writing and iterating a Creative Brief.  The Creative Brief crystalizes the key ‘What’s in it for me?’ of the campaign.   John sends the brief to his director for review and she provides additional points.  He sits down with his creative team and walks through a briefing.  The creative director scrutinizes the brief.  He tells John that the proof points are weak.   He sends John back to add more beef. 

John meets with the product marketing manager to push for more proof.  John relays that the platitudes won’t suffice.  The PMM strikes gold with factual data from a pilot test.  The creative brief is updated and the campaign development is underway. 

Next John realizes that he needs to begin content marketing development.  All the inquiries he drives into the top of the funnel require content. This includes content for the website and nurture emails.

Content Marketing Project Brief

John emails his internal staff writer and lets him know the number of pages and due date.  The writer asks a few questions and John responds with his thoughts.  The writer asks for source content to work from.  John binge downloads topic related content from the corporate SharePoint site. The files consist of over 30 documents.  John sighs with relief when he finds a fat 81-slide deck with everything.  He emails a Zip file off to his writer with the message; “Alex – Enclosed you will find all the source content you need.  Let me know if you have any questions.  I need the content finalized by X date.” 

If David Ogilvy were alive today he would choke with disgust.  He would voice that marketing has lost its way. 

For the marketing campaign John expects the creative team to write net new custom copy.  The direction in the creative brief has real substance. The way John tackles the content marketing is vastly different.  John takes an ad-hoc informal method to complete a task. Key managers are not involved.  It’s a task-level activity without much thought. 

There is a better way.  The David Ogilvy way.  David-Ogilvy

Content Marketing direction can be simplified by following a process.  We know that investment in creative briefs saves time. Creative briefs produce a superior end product. World Class marketing firms leverage Content Marketing Project Briefs to guide development.  The best practice is to leverage tried and true marketing practices.  Ogilvy’s influence found its way into Content Marketing.   

Download our free template here to set your team on the right path. 

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Vince Koehler
Vince is a demand generation thought leader with more than 16 years of industry and professional services experience. He has been chartered with "filling the funnel" for organizations to keep sales resources productive in driving systematic growth. A sample list of Vince's engagements include: Colgate, CITGO Petroleum, GE, Yellow Freight, and Roadway Express.


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