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3 Old-School Marketing Quotes that Matter Even More Today

5 mins read

“Listen to your elders,” isn’t a piece of advice you often hear in digital marketing agencies. Faced with lightning-speed technology changes, many younger advertisers often laugh at the idea of traditional marketing. Helloooo, have you ever heard of digital analytics?

But here’s the thing: Just because the internet changed some advertising rules doesn’t mean we should ignore the people who invented the game. In fact, most of the things we do as marketers originated long before the internet came into being. Brand positioning, conversational ad writing, targeting, market research…the people who invented these concepts have some serious wisdom to dole out.

It’s time to take a look at some marketing quotes from some of the greats. These three marketing quotes can teach us all to learn a thing or two about the art of advertising.

“The consumer isn’t a moron; she is your wife,” is one of the most well-known quotes from David Ogilvy, the father of advertising himself.  

Without those follow-up sentences, you may think Ogilvy is referencing his success developing ad campaigns targeting women. He was one of the first to realize that, at least in the 1950s, women were making many of the purchasing decisions in American homes. As Ogilvy himself put it, “I could have positioned Dove as a detergent bar for men with dirty hands but chose instead to position it as a toilet bar for women with dry skin. This is still working 25 years later.”

However, when he uses “wife” in the 1955 “the consumer isn’t a moron” quote, he isn’t talking about the fact that women often make purchasing decisions. He’s talking about the fact that women (or whoever is purchasing household good) ain’t stupid, and your copy shouldn’t insult them. Ogilvy was committed to spending large amounts of time in the field: touring factories where products were made, talking to potential customers, and meeting with all levels of employees. From there, he was able to understand the benefits of a product and provide consumers with the necessary information. Basically, he built his campaigns around finding the information consumers wanted and presenting it in an appealing way.

Over 60 years later, this nugget of old-school advertising wisdom is truer than ever before. People are doing a ton of research before they buy, and your pretty-sounding copy won’t mean much if you can’t give them real information about why you’re the best option. Don’t just dazzle your buyer – respect them. Your bottom line will thank you.

Electrical engineer and businessman David Packard is half of the duo behind Hewlett-Packard, an IT powerhouse founded in 1939. With his strong commercial success and a deep understanding of technology, it’s no wonder one of his marketing quotes are on this list.

Every department in a company has a role to play in both developing marketing strategies and in rolling them out. After all, your sales and customer service teams talk to your target audience every day, so their input and insights are critical to your strategy. The roll out should also involve as many departments as possible. That way, your ads will reflect what is really happening on the ground. Tada! You’ve figured out how genuine fans are born!

Encourage your staff to share why your company is so awesome (word of mouth, anyone?). Empower them find new opportunities for your brand to shine. In a social media connected world, people matter to your marketing strategy – their advocacy, networks, and ideas are too powerful to ignore.

Why spend advertising dollars on anything other than lead generation? Philip Kotler will tell you why. In one of his most popular marketing quotes, the acclaimed marketing professor at the Kellogg School of Management sums up the importance of branding, nurturing, and all those other activities that drive your customer relationships.

Look – people are naturally going to compare your specs with competitors. How much does it cost? What is the timeline? What do I get? The only way to differentiate yourself without slashing prices is to have a strong reputation worth investing in. From content marketing to consumer reviews to Facebook ads, there are SO many ways technology puts brand-building right at your fingertips. Clearly, Kotler’s wisdom shows no sign of slowing down.

Why Understanding Old School Marketing Matters

When many of us think about marketing in the 1950s, our minds automatically jump to campy radio bits or outdated cigarette magazine ads. But there was so much more to the birth of modern advertising than that.

The basic principles of buyer personas, marketing funnels, and caring about current customers can all be found in early, traditional advertising. Sure, some methods may be outdated. Some older ads may not resonate with younger audiences. But the minds behind some of the most legendary ad campaigns are still worth listening to.



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