I recently finished reading ‘Confessions of an Advertising Man’ by David Ogilvy. I am a huge fan of the TV series, Mad Men, and I learned that Ogivly is considered to be a loose inspiration for the show’s main character, Don Draper.
Widely considered the “Father of Advertising,” Ogilvy changed the advertising industry for generations to come. Given the fact that the advertising industry is largely a sales culture, I was truly impressed by Ogilvy’s integrity throughout the book.
While I originally bought the book for entertainment, ‘Confessions of an Advertising Man’ was filled with timeless wisdom that’s worth sharing. Chapters like, “How to Get Clients,” “How to Keep Clients,” and “How to Rise to the Top of the Tree - Advice for Young People,” although meant for the advertising industry, could be directly translated for aspiring financial planners searching for success.
Learn Your Clients before you Give Advice to them
“When KLM Royal Dutch Airlines decided to change agencies, they invited Ogilvy, Benson & Mather and four others to prepare speculative campaigns. We were first on their tour of inspection. I opened the meeting by saying “We have prepared nothing. Instead we would like you to tell us about your problems. Then you can visit the other four agencies on your list. They have prepared speculative campaigns. If you like any of them, your choice is easy. If you don’t, come back and hire us. We will then embark on the research which always precedes the preparation of advertisements at our agency.”
This is the attitude financial planners should have with all of their clients. “Tell us about your problems. After that, we’ll be glad to come up with what’s best for your situation.”
Stay Candid with your Clients
“I have never wanted to get an account so big that I could not afford to lose it. The day you do that, you commit yourself to living with fear. Frighted agencies lose the courage to give candid advice; once you lose that you become a lackey.”
In the advice-giving business, the ability to be candid is essential; no matter what business you’re in, your clients pay you to give them the absolute best advice. Always nurture a relationship that allows all parties to speak freely.
Good Listening Pays
“It pays to listen more than you talk… There is one stratagem which seems to work in almost every case: get the prospect to do most of the talking. The more you listen, the wiser he thinks you are.”
Excelling in a New Industry
“Most of the work you do in an agency will be routine maintenance. If you do it will, you will make gradual progress, but your golden opportunity will come when you rise to a great occasion. The trick is to recognize the great occasion when it presents itself.
Learn to make good presentations… learn to write them by studying the work of your masters… learn to deliver them well by observing the techniques of the professionals.
Pick a subject about which your agency knows too little, and make yourself an authority on it.
It is important to admit your mistakes and to do so before you are charged with them.
Big ideas are usually simple ideas.”
Ogilvy’s Favorite Traits
At the very beginning of the book, David Ogilvy explicitly listed the behaviors and traits he admires most:
- people who work hard
- people with first-class brains
- people who work with gusto
- people who hire subordinates who are good enough to succeed them
- people who build up their subordinates
- people with gentle manners who treat other people as human beings
- well-organized people who deliver their work on time
Although originally written for the advertising industry, the wisdom and advice is clearly applicable to aspiring financial planners and professionals, in general. If you are new to the industry and exploring new ways to learn and excel, I would highly recommend ‘Confessions of an Advertising Man” by David Ogilvy.