“Why being #2 is sometimes better than being #1 in your advertising copywriting”

David Ogilvy (if you don’t know who this man is  – google him instantly after reading this post!) once completed an ad campaign for the #2 rental car company in America.

David Ogilvy
David Ogilvy

This company was smaller than the #1 company, it didn’t have the same number of employees, and it had fewer locations.

And you know what? David used every one of these “weaknesses” to present this #2 company as the stronger choice for rental cars.

In his ad, he said something to the extent of:

“Yes, we’re the #2 rental car company in America. And because of it, we have to work extra hard to make sure you are happy, because unlike the #1 company, we can’t afford to have you walk away unsatisfied.

“That is why when you get into your rental car, the gas tank will always be full, the ash tray emptied, and the seats clean to boot – it will feel like stepping into a brand new car.

“Plus, our lines are shorter.”

My business partner and I use a similar technique when pitching our services to potential clients.

When they express concern at the fact that we’re new to the marketing/copywriting business, I tell them,

“You know what? You’re absolutely right. And it’s because we’re new that every single client we take on has to walk away completely happy with their product, and with more money in their pockets.

“Because unlike a big agency, or an experienced business that has a large client base, we can’t afford to let one single client walk away unhappy. We need your testimonial, and we need you to say great things about our business. For us to become successful, you have to become successful too.

“If not, we’re doomed to fail. So when we take on your project, we’re not just doing it for you – we’re doing it for ourselves, too.”

And you know what? It’s true! Being the underdog has its advantages. We know that what we produce is just as good, if not often better, than what many experienced agencies produce – but our prospect doesn’t yet know that because we’re so fresh to the industry.


But once they see what we’re capable of, it’s a different story.

So if you’re launching a new business – use that to your advantage! If you don’t yet have testimonials – use that to your advantage! Don’t try to hide it!

Instead, look your prospect in the eyes, and tell them,

“You’re right. We don’t have testimonials, and we’re not as well known as our competition. But you know what..”

And tell them why that’s such a blessing.

To better writing (and more money),


4 Replies to ““Why being #2 is sometimes better than being #1 in your advertising copywriting””

  1. I love this post. It’s so true. I absolutely believe that attitude and aptitude go a lot further than experience, and this post proves such a valid point. Even if you are the “underdog” and you are DAMN good at what you do, there is no stopping you!

  2. Great blog David! Your writing skills are exceptional. Your attitude and desire to help others succeed will take you to the top. You won’t be the “underdog” for long. This is the beginning of a great career. Love, mom.

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