“I don’t know who you are.”

A stern-looking executive with a receding hairline is seated in a swivel chair with his elbows on the arms of the chair, his fingers intertwined, his feet set well apart, and his bow tie precisely aligned below his double chin. He says to me:

“I don’t know who you are.
I don’t know your company.
I don’t know your company’s product.
I don’t know what your company stands for.
I don’t know your company’s customers.
I don’t know your company’s record.
I don’t know your company’s reputation.
Now – what was it you wanted to sell me?”

This is copy from an ad that I came across many years ago in ‘Ogilvy on Advertising.’ I marked the page and have kept it close ever since. This unnamed, no-nonsense executive is my marketing guru.

I have only to look at this ad and read the words to discard all of the layers of marketingese that I keep accumulating in the course of many years in the field. I can forget those dense, abstract definitions: ‘Marketing is an organizational function and a set of processes for creating, communicating and delivering value to customers.’ I can ignore those numbered formulas: ‘The four P’s of marketing are product, pricing, positioning, and placement.’

I simply go back to what is for me the essence of business-to-business communication.

Marketing is a hard-nosed executive with a lot of priorities, very little time, and even less patience.

One thought on ““I don’t know who you are.”

  1. It’s an example of the best in ad copywriting. Another marketing favorite of mine is John Wanamaker’s quote, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”


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