It’s always that Ogilvy guy, isn’t it?

Damn him and his insight. But the fact of the matter is – he was right.

I can’t remember in which of his books he mentions it (On Advertising or Confessions of an Advertising Man) and let’s face it, they’re both pretty similar anyway. But yes, he does mention it…


That, as a copywriter, you should use the products and services you’re writing copy for.

Ok. In his day he got to use whiskey, and Rolls Royces’, and Hathaway shirts, and holidays to far-flung places, and Dove soap.

In the modern-day, I accept that the vast majority of copywriters work in the world of information publishing, or sports betting, or finance and foreign exchange and the products and services you’re required to sell aren’t quite as fun or glamorous.

Shame. But still no reason not to heed Ogilvy’s advice. Especially when you consider that most people who write copy these days are completely missing the trick on this.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you need to invest all your money in a financial tipster, or buy every copy of the gambling guide you’ve been hired to promote, and I’m not suggesting you mortgage your house to pay for the latest super-high-priced mastermind conference that Joe Polish is probably offering as we speak.

But do dip your toes in. Seriously. Before you even write a word of copy, force yourself to go through the exact same process a potential recipient of your eventual promotion will go through.

Assume you’ve just read your pack and been sold on the idea. You give your money over (or organise a freebie with your employer) and follow all the post-sale steps. See what happens, see where you hit upon any problems.

Don’t think like a copywriter at this point. Think like a customer – right now, that’s what you are.

Now it might be that you run into something which doesn’t add up. If this is the case, confront your client to see if it can be resolved. If it is, then happy days – you’ve improved the product or service you’re about to write a promotion for and your job will be a lot easier.

If they can’t resolve the problem and it’s a fundamental one, then you really need to question whether you should even be writing a promotion for the product or service. You’ll only end up having to lie or leave your copy weak, therefore sacrificing any future work with different clients.

But if the product is good, if you try it out and you don’t hit any problems – if, in fact, you discover it’s a quality product or service… well, you’re set to write your sales promotion.

The great news is, because you’ve tried and used the product yourself, you’ll have a much deeper understanding of it and this will come across in your promotion.

You might not even realise you’re doing it, but you’ll find your promises sound stronger, your pictures come across clearer, your proof feels more personal and your push so much more genuine.

It’ll work, believe me.

And if you won’t take my word for it – well, take Ogilvy’s!

You know it,



Glenn Fisher is an author, copywriter, podcaster and speaker. After a number of years working in the local council, he left to become a copywriter and founded, a free online resource for direct response copywriters and marketers. For over a decade he worked with The Agora, a multi-million pound international financial publisher before leaving in 2018 to write freelance. His first book, The Art of the Click, has quickly become an Amazon bestseller and was shortlisted for the Business Book Awards. He is the host of the popular All Good Copy Podcast and regularly writes and consults for numerous businesses, brands and ad agencies. He lives happily with his partner Ruth and dog Pablo on the east coast of England.


  1. Recently I was helping an affiliate to a liver cleanse product.

    When going through the order process I got confused because of all the options on the checkout page.

    A real mess.

    Like 6 other products to click if so desired and confusing options for product promoted.

    He made up a video and placed it above the order button to show the process.

    As you rightly said…”think like a customer”.


    • Glenn Fisher Reply

      A video explaining the order process is a great idea, thanks for sharing Ewen!

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