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7 Ways to Get Good Copywriting Ideas

Updated on June 16, 2014
Good Ideas Are Hard To Come By
Good Ideas Are Hard To Come By | Source

7 Ways to Get Good Ideas

  1. Mastery of the subject
  2. Understanding the audience
  3. Understanding how to persuade
  4. Mobilising your subconscious
  5. Knowledge of the techniques
  6. Having a well-furnished mind
  7. Creating the ‘twist’ – the abruption

Big Ideas Are Hard to Come By Said David Ogilvy

David Ogilvy says that ideas are hard to come by, and in his long career as a copywriter, he had only 20. “Big ideas come from the unconscious,” he says. “This is true in art, science and in advertising. But your unconscious has to be well-informed or your idea will be irrelevant.

Stuff your conscious mind with information, then unhook your rational thought process…no idea is big unless it will work for thirty years.”

The two white horses Ogilvy dreamed of, pulling a baker’s delivery van along a country lane, drove up that lane for longer than 30 years in the Pepperidge Farm commercials.

Big ideas are not always easy to recognise. Is the Dove promise: “Dove doesn’t dry your skin the way soap can" a big idea? David Ogilvy says it is. And it didn’t take a dream or a leap of imagination to arrive at it. It was obviously part of the product story. All he had to do is see it. “There are no dull products, only dull writers,” he says.

A copywriter who writes fiction regularly tends to have a continual flow of ideas. He finds it easy to write fresh, original copy.

A Long Walk Stimulates Creative Thinking Says David Ogilvy
A Long Walk Stimulates Creative Thinking Says David Ogilvy | Source

How to Get Good Ideas - By Drayton Bird, Former International Creative Director, Ogilvy & Mather


  1. Mastery of the subject – knowing your product or service back to front and inside out.
  2. Understanding the audience – knowing what they think about, care about, react to, are interested in – and what their attitude is to what you’re selling.
  3. Understanding how to persuade – this in my view, is usually done by getting people to agree to a proposition they easily accept, and then making a series of further propositions of decreasing credibility, which they tend to accept because they have agreed to the first one. All culminating in the final proposition: you really need this product or service, and you ought to act now. Because they have agreed to everything preceding this final proposition, they will probably agree to this too.
  4. Mobilising your subconscious – giving your mind time to work on the information you’ve gathered.
  5. Knowledge of the techniques – many people think they can be brilliant because of their innate flair. Don’t count on it. It is utterly essential that you know all the tricks of the trade if you want to do good work. Because it’s not enough to have a great idea; you have to carry it out well. As the great pianist Paderewski said: "Technique comes before art.’"
  6. Having a well-furnished mind – Victor Ross suggested that often the ‘"twist" comes from joining two apparently disconnected ideas together. To do that, you have to have a rich fund of ideas to call upon. This comes from being cultured. It is simply not enough to concentrate – as so many of us do – on our narrow professional lives, on people of our own background, within our own milieu. You have to look further afield. Watch what is happening in other creative areas. Go to plays, musicals, films, opera, read books on all subjects – not just marketing. Ride the bus on the subway, shop at the supermarket. Get out!
  7. The ‘twist’ – the abruption. That is the one extra ingredient. I found it difficult to define. And I am most grateful to Messrs. Ross and Manning for giving it to me.

No 7, the "twist," is the most important of these to produce great work says Drayton Bird. The unexpected gets the attention of the reader. David Ogilvy said that a warm bath or a walk helped him get creative ideas.

David Ogilvy Recommends A Good Long Bath For Getting Good Ideas
David Ogilvy Recommends A Good Long Bath For Getting Good Ideas | Source

© 2014 Anita Saran

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