How to Market Your Thermostats and Smart Building Controls in the Modern Age: A Lesson from David Ogilvy

You might think, I am not in sales or marketing, this doesn’t apply to me.

I beg to differ.

Like it or not, we are all in sales and marketing. It doesn’t matter if you are a tech in the field, and accountant or a programmer at the office, you are in sales. We are all in sales therefore we are all in marketing.

This is true at the office and at home. Want to get your spouse on board with buying season tickets to the Los Angles Rams, or to take a family vacation to Paris? Chances are you will have to make a sale.

The great news is that the time-tested principles you will learn in this post apply to all aspects of your life.

Who knows, applying these principles you might even make a sale to your teenage child, but I would not hold my breath.

Who is David Ogilvy, and How Can He Help Me?

David Ogilvy was an advertising legend who starting in the 1950s revolutionized the field. He still influences the modern digital age of marketing.

Most inspiringly, he achieved success as a self-made man, selling everything from brassieres to government bonds before pioneering the modern marketing industry. His years in the field selling face to face informed his marketing philosophy.

The character Don Draper of Mad Man is largely based on Ogilvy. Know as the Godfather of Advertising, his methods are timeless and deserve our attention.

  • Nothing Happens in Business Until A Sale is Made!

Great marketing is the fuel that sales run on. I don’t care how great a salesperson you are, in today’s information rich world you better have a great marketing message to go along with your sales skills.

Now more than ever, the message is the differentiator. Think about it, we have tons of great products, at great prices, with great customer support, so why do some companies grow and others stand still?

Great marketing proceeds great growth.

Marketing matters. Nothing in business or life happens until our product or service is bought. Outside of having an excellent product, marketing matters the most.

So if you are ready to learn, how David Ogilvy help you to sell more products, get those season tickets, the trip to France, and to have a chance with your teenagers keep reading.

David Ogilvy: Rules for Great Marketing:

The goal of marketing is to sell.

If your copy is not generating sales, then it is not effective and most likely hurting, not helping your cause.

Sending content out just to send out content is usually a guarantee your content is going to be deleted.

Send out enough content that is not useful and the customers you want to influence will send your email straight to trash, and probably block you.

Your content must be useful to your reader.

Don’t worry, you will get some useful tips later in this and other posts on ControlTrends that will have your audience wanting to hear and see what you have to say.

Most of the marketing content I see is informational, which is necessary from time to time, but does not lead to sales. If your factory will be closed for the holidays, or if there is a price increase coming, we need to know.

Informational content might help keep your existing customers, but it will not increase your market share.

Focus on Benefits, not Features

One of Ogilvy’s most famous quotes is, “The customer is not interested in your product; they’re only interested in their own needs.”

This is an important reminder that when you’re marketing a product or service, it’s not enough to just list features or specs—you need to focus on how your product can solve customers’ problems or improve their lives. For example, with thermostats and other building automation control devices, you could focus on how they can help save energy (and money) by automating certain tasks like temperature control or lighting.

Most of the marketing collateral I see in our industry does a good job of spelling out the benefits of their products. Notice I said benefits, plural. Ogilvy believed it was better to focus on one key benefit instead of all of them.

Make clear what and who your product is for in as few words as possible

Which do you think is more generic soap or thermostats?

They hired Ogilvy to create the add campaign for a soap company. He decided that instead of focusing on the entire soap marketplace, and all the benefits of the soap and the soap company he was representing, that he would take one benefit of his soap company and make that benefit the focus of his campaign.

His company’s soap contained moisturizer. He found that a very specific group of the soap buying world was concerned about dry skin. Instead of trying to sell soap to the entire world of soap buyers, Ogilvy focused his marketing on a very specific group of soap users, who were concerned about dry skin, women. Dove soap endures as one of the most successful soap brands of all time.

Ogilvy took a boring, generic product and created a soap dynasty.

My guess is if Ogilvy was writing copy for your company, he would start by recognizing a single key benefit your product offers and target the segment of customers it would most appeal to.

Doing this, we can take advantage of an often overlooked element in marketing: simplicity. Streamlining our approach has the potential to be much more effective than casting out into every corner!

One of my favorite Ogilvy quotes is “there are no boring products, only boring writers.”

Know Your Customer

Before Ogilvy wrote a single word, he did massive amounts of research.

He understood who he was writing for, which included how they thought and the language they used, and not just what they thought they needed, but actually what they needed.

Ask a customer what they want and it is almost always the same thing. Give me every feature at the lowest price.

Framing questions so that you discover what customers actually want and will pay for is both an art and a science. If you want to know more about how to do this, reach out in comments and let me know. And I will cover it in another post.

80% of the Success of Your Add Depends on Your Headline

A headline could be the title of a blog post, the subject of an email, or the first thing people see when they look at your promotional brochures.

I was shocked to find out that 8 out of 10 people only read the headline? Unless you write good headlines,that means just 2 out of 10 will stay and read the rest of the article or brochure. If your headline is provocative, the reader will move forward and read your content. The more people read your content, the more they will consider buying your product.

It makes sense. We have so little time and so much information coming at us. We must filter what we read and pay attention to information that can help us.

As a writer, it’s important to understand that your headline is the most important part of your article. It must be interesting and provoke the reader without sounding like click bait. Writing good headlines takes skill, knowledge and experience. It is a subject unto itself, and in another ControlTrends post I will cover writing great headlines in more detail.

Ogilvy wrote perhaps the greatest headline of all time for Rolls Royce in 1958. After completely researching and understanding the technical specifications of the Rolls Royce, which at the time was a technical marvel, Ogilvy could have listed at least 30 reasons one should purchase a Rolls. Conventional wisdom would suggest we list most, if not all, of these reasons. Listing more features would be more reasons to buy, right?




No, remember to keep it simple. Here is what David Ogilvy wrote:

“ At 60 miles per hour, the loudest noise comes from the electric clock.”

This one phrase, this understanding of the essence of the product, and masterful use of language, became Rolls Royces longest running and most successful ad.

Here is another successful headline from one of the marketing firms I track, TBWA of Vancouver, for the British Columbia Lung Association.

It is clear, concise, provocative, and most all effective.

TEST, TEST, and TEST Some More

To find out what headlines work, you need to test, refine, and prove your copy.

One good way to test headlines is on Twitter. Twitter is almost all headlines anyway so you can run different headlines and see which get the most likes.

Another way is to run an AB comparison using different headlines using email. Send the same email out to different segments of your customer base with different headlines and see which headline gets open the most.

The professional copy writers I have studied with spend 60% of their time researching what customers want,how they think, and how they make decisions, 35% of their time testing headlines and ideas, and 5% of their time writing copy.

Use Multiple Channels

Finally, Ogilvy taught us it’s important to use multiple channels when marketing products or services—especially since different audiences prefer different channels. You have tons of options ( channels). besides your own website and customer list, you can use social media platforms like Linkedin,YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok. As younger buyers come into the market, you must find them on the platforms they prefer.

You also have more traditional options like the trade magazines, websites like Automated Buildings or ControlTrends, if we ever offer advertising options.

Understanding the nuances of each social media platform is as important as what you post on them. Companies that do it successfully typically have one individual that posts on each specific platform. So you have your Facebook person, your twitter person, etc. They develop and become the voice of your company in that domain. Social media is at its core social and having one person responsible for growing your presence on a platform keeps it consistent and social, and makes it easy to track results.

In choosing channels for your marketing efforts, experiment with a few and see which ones have the best ROI for your product or service.

Remember, “Mistakes are inevitable, repeating them is optional.”

These are just a few of David Ogilvy’s marketing principles. They are just as relevant today as they were when he first developed them. By incorporating these principles into your modern-day marketing strategy, you can create campaigns that connect with your target audience and drive results.

Over the next several months, we will cover more of David Ogilvy and other marketing greats like Dan Kennedy and Gary Halbert. You can add ControlTtends to your resource list for innovative sales and marketing ideas.

Suggested Reading:

Ogilvy on Advertising

Confessions of an Ad Man



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