The customer is not a moron, she’s your wife.

Once upon a time, advertisers thought they were advertising to a big pool of dumbasses.

They’d write copy that read more like a corny superhero comic book strip than an actual advertisement and they’d hire a retired summer camp counselor to read the damn thing with a nauseating level of exuberance.

Then, someone by the name of David Ogilvy walked into the room, called bullshit and completely changed the conversation with an iconic line…

“The customer is not a moron, she’s your wife.”

It was a refreshing response to the typical advertising practices in the 1950s… loud, sales-y voices spouting out ridiculous, exaggerated copy.

Think: ShamWOW guy (but 24/7).

When Ogilvy said the customer is not a moron, she’s your wife, he raised a huge question…

Why are we marketing to living, breathing human beings with fully-functioning brains (our wives) like they’re a bunch of idiots?

The late great advertising genius answered this question by creating advertising that felt more like an intelligent conversation rather than a sale.

He once wrote a massive full-page ad selling Guinness beer called “The Guinness Guide to Oysters” where he shared the flavor, history and interesting facts about various species of oysters all while thoughtfully pairing them with Guinness…

Today, when you look back at the ads Ogilvy brought to life during his multi-decade career you see a tasteful intertwining of art, human psychology and writing.

His ads are pretty enough to hang in a museum, human enough to read aloud over coffee and packed full of enough prose they’d make Virginia Woolf or Ernest Hemingway let out a purr.

He is a legend in the world of advertising because he knew exactly who he was advertising to; his wife (or humans, rather).

And, since humans are (for the most part) intelligent, he knew his advertising needed to be intelligent, too.

Ogilvy introduced to the world what I would call “intelligent marketing”, something we desperately need to revisit today.

Despite living in a world that is more informed than ever before, marketers are still falling into the nasty habit of marketing to morons rather than their wives, husbands, coworkers, friends and ultimately living breathing human beings.

What is intelligent marketing?

As both a copywriter and marketer at Honey Copy, I see brands make the same mistake over and over again… they market to morons… thinking that overly sales-y marketing emails, landing pages and articles are going to get their customer’s to exchange their hard-earned money for their products or services.

Or, worse yet, they don’t attempt to market at all, believing in the “if you build it they will come” fallacy… which tends to result in empty pockets.

Time and time again these brands realize the same thing…

Their morons are much smarter than they originally thought.

Intelligent marketing is about marketing to an intelligent person (or intelligent customer). It’s realizing that like one’s wife or husband or friend or colleague, the customer isn’t dumb and isn’t going to buy “just anything”.

It’s understanding that to sell something to someone, your marketing itself must be valuable, intelligent, that it must leave them feeling better, smarter, sharper, happier, more inspired.

When brands begin to realize that they’re not catching fish, they stop throwing around shiny vibrantly colored lures and begin creating intelligent marketing that can appeal to the intelligent humans they’re marketing to.

I experienced the benefits of intelligent marketing firsthand after struggling to build my writing agency through cold outreach.

I was cold-emailing hundreds of prospects to land a single customer. And, while cold outreach is most definitely an effective form of marketing (many billion-dollar b2b brands use the strategy)… as a one-person team, I didn’t have the time nor the resources to make it viable.

So, I asked myself…

How can I give away something valuable to my prospective customers?

This thought is what sparked my weekly email newsletter, Sticky Notes, where I give-away free highly-valuable content on marketing, psychology, writing and selling things with words.

It’s not all that dissimilar to the Ogilvy advertisement I shared above, except my intelligent marketing is delivered in the form of insightful marketing pearls rather than interesting facts about oysters.

(But, my audience doesn’t consist of folks that like beer and oyster. My audience consists of marketers, freelancers, entrepreneurs and snow cone vendors).

Today, I view my newsletter like a product of sorts with the goal of eventually creating the best marketing newsletter on the web. I’m still a ways away but besides building a list of 5,300 email subscribers to date, I have noticed I am connecting deeper with my prospective customers with each intelligent conversation I am sending to their inbox.

I, of course, am not the only one doing this.

You will see no sales-y marketing for Red Bull but instead something called Red Bull TV that captures insane events ranging from music festivals to F1 racing.

The same can be said for Basecamp, the project management and team communication software, they’re intelligent marketing comes in the form of a blog called Signal v. Noise, where they share their thoughts on design, business and tech.

Like Ogilvy and his Oysters, they’re not attempting to shove their energy drinks or their software or their beer down your throat… they practicing intelligent marketing… giving their customers something valuable and then letting them decide if they want to buy whatever it is they’re selling.

They’re not marketing to morons, after all.

But, I digress.

By Cole Schafer.

You gotta check this out — Sticky Notes is my email list reserved strictly for entrepreneurs and creatives looking to sell like a Florida Snow Cone Vendor on the hottest day of the year.

I write pretty words and sometimes sell things.

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