Knowledge is useless unless you know how to communicate it – in writing.
We live in a world where most communication happens in 140 character messages, 7 second videos and short text messages. It’s easy to forget how important is good writing as an essential and personal skill.
I have been inspired by David Ogilvy, the father of advertising. His story is really interesting. His teachings fundamental. His books are some of the first every marketer should read. In the Unpublished David Ogilvy, I found great advice by the master.
“The better you write, the higher you will go in Ogilvy and Mather. People who think well, write well.“
This quote is from a memo to his staff in 1982. He continued “Good writing is not a natural gift. You have to learn to write well.”
Your writing style is unique and personal. It’s a reflection of your personality and your thinking. Writing well takes studying and dedication, it’s a life-long quest. I aspire to be a good writer.
In his memo, David Ogilvy provided 10 tips for writing well:
- Read the Roman-Raphaelson book on writing (“Writing that Works“). Read it three times.
- Write the way you talk. Naturally.
- Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs.
- Never use jargon words like reconceptualize, demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass.
- Never write more than two pages on any subject.
- Check your quotations.
- Never send a letter or a memo the day you write it. Read it aloud the next morning – and then edit it.
- If it is something important, get a colleague to improve it.
- Before you send your letter or your memo, make sure it is crystal clear what you want your recipient to do.
- If you want action, don’t write. Go and tell the guy what you want.”
A couple more book recommendations for you if you want to take your writing to the next level:
- Your Attention Please by Paul Brown. This is a quick read but a powerful book about writing with clarity.
- Steven Pinker’s The Sense of Style. A more complex, richer book with great examples that will educate you on the art of writing in the 21st century
- More writing, marketing and strategy book recommendations here.