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74 Copywriting Quotes: Juicy Secrets From History’s Best

Updated on September 7, 2023

I take pride in my list of the best copywriting tips

But I’m not arrogant enough to ignore some of history’s most famous copywriting quotes.

I also know you may not have the attention span to read copywriting books

That’s why I compiled this list from famous copywriters like:

  • David Ogilvy
  • Howard Gossage
  • Leo Burnett
  • Joanna Wiebe

Heck, I even have some quotes from Walt Disney and Albert Einstein that are extremely applicable to copywriting.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Breakdown buyer psychology and emotion
  • Craft compelling headlines and copy
  • Convert call-to-actions into click magnets

If that sounds good…

Take out your notebook and bookmark this page if you want to become a copywriter with skills from history’s best.

You’re welcome.

What Are the Best Copywriting Quotes?

  1. “The most powerful element in advertising is the truth.” – Bill Bernbach
  2. “Nobody reads ads. People read what interests them. Sometimes it’s an ad.” – Howard Gossage
  3. “Make it simple. Make it memorable. Make it inviting to look at. Make it fun to read.” – Leo Burnett
  4. “The consumer isn’t a moron; she is your wife.” – David Ogilvy
  5. “In writing, you must kill all your darlings.” – William Faulkner
  6. “If it doesn’t sell, it isn’t creative.” – David Ogilvy
  7. “Don’t tell me how good you make it; tell me how good it makes me when I use it.” – Leo Burnett
  8. “People spend money when and where they feel good.” – Walt Disney
  9. “Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly — they’ll go through anything. You read and you’re pierced.” – Aldous Huxley
  10. “On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” – David Ogilvy
  11. “Copy is a direct conversation with the consumer.” – Shirley Polykoff
  12. “The secret of all effective advertising is not the creation of new and tricky words and pictures, but one of putting familiar words and pictures into new relationships.” – Leo Burnett
  13. “The more informative your advertising, the more persuasive it will be.” – David Ogilvy
  14. “A good advertisement is one which sells the product without drawing attention to itself.” – David Ogilvy
  15. “Advertising is only evil when it advertises evil things.” – David Ogilvy
  16. “Good copy can’t be written with tongue in cheek, written just for a living. You’ve got to believe in the product.” – David Ogilvy
  17. “I’ve learned that any fool can write a bad ad, but that it takes a real genius to keep his hands off a good one.” – Leo Burnett
  18. “The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible.” – David Ogilvy
  19. “If you want to be interesting, be interested.” – David Ogilvy
  20. “You cannot bore people into buying your product; you can only interest them in buying it.” – David Ogilvy
  21. “I don’t know the rules of grammar… If you’re trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language, the language they use every day, the language in which they think. We try to write in the vernacular.” – David Ogilvy
  22. “I have a theory that the best ads come from personal experience. Some of the good ones I have done have really come out of the real experience of my life, and somehow this has come over as true and valid and persuasive.” – David Ogilvy
  23. “Advertising is a business of words, but advertising agencies are infested with men and women who cannot write. They cannot write advertisements, and they cannot write plans. They are helpless as deaf mutes on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera.” – David Ogilvy
  24. “What you say in advertising is more important than how you say it.” – David Ogilvy
  25. “Never write an advertisement which you wouldn’t want your family to read. You wouldn’t tell lies to your own wife. Don’t tell them to mine.” – David Ogilvy
  26. “In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative, original thinker unless you can also sell what you create.” – David Ogilvy
  27. “Big ideas come from the unconscious. This is true in art, in science, and in advertising. But your unconscious has to be well informed, or your idea will be irrelevant. Stuff your conscious mind with information, then unhook your rational thought process.” – David Ogilvy
  28. “The best way to get a good idea is to get a lot of ideas.” – Linus Pauling
  29. “Creativity is like washing a pig. It’s messy. It has no rules. No clear beginning, middle or end. It’s kind of a pain in the ass, and when you’re done, you’re not sure if the pig is really clean or even why you were washing a pig in the first place.” – Luke Sullivan
  30. “The first draft of anything is shit.” – Ernest Hemingway
  31. “If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.” – Albert Einstein
  32. “Easy reading is damn hard writing.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne
  33. “I don’t need an alarm clock. My ideas wake me.” – Ray Bradbury
  34. “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” – Mark Twain
  35. “Let’s get to the heart of the matter. The power, the force, the overwhelming urge to own that makes advertising work, comes from the market itself, and not from the copy. Copy cannot create desire for a product. It can only take the hopes, dreams, fears and desires that already exists in the hearts of millions of people, and focus those already existing desires onto a particular product. This is the copy writer’s task: not to create this mass desire – but to channel and direct it.” – Eugene Schwartz
  36. “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.” – Elmore Leonard
  37. “Copy is not written. Copy is assembled.” – Eugene Schwartz
  38. “When I write an advertisement, I don’t want you to tell me that you find it ‘creative.’ I want you to find it so interesting that you buy the product.” – David Ogilvy
  39. “Your job is not to write copy. Your job is to know your visitors, customers and prospects so well, you understand the situation they’re in right now, where they’d like to be, and exactly how your solution can and will get them to their ideal self.” – Joanna Wiebe
  40. “Metaphors are a great language tool, because they explain the unknown in terms of the known.” – Anne Lamott
  41. “We have become so accustomed to hearing everyone claim that his product is the best in the world, or the cheapest, that we take all such statements with a grain of salt.” – Robert Collier
  42. “A big reason so many businesses compete on price is because they can’t prove what value they offer, so they’re stuck with the one selling point that’s a breeze to communicate: cheapness.” – Mish Slade
  43. “Every product has a unique personality and it is your job to find it.” – Joe Sugarman
  44. “People will do anything for those who encourage their dreams, justify their failures, allay their fears, confirm their suspicions, and help them throw rocks at their enemies.” – Blair Warren
  45. “Here’s the only thing you’re selling, no matter what business you’re in and what you ship: you’re selling your prospects a better version of themselves.” – Joanna Wiebe
  46. “Get yourself a collection of good ads and DM pieces and read them aloud and copy them in your own handwriting.” – Gary Halbert
  47. “I think clarity starts with having (a few questions) really clear in your mind: ‘What is this blog post about and what am I going to teach my readers with it? How will it make them feel once they’ve learned this?’” – Henneke Duistermaat
  48. “Visualize this thing you want. See it, feel it, believe in it. Make your mental blueprint and begin.” – Robert Collier
  49. “A copywriter should have an understanding of people, an insight into them, a sympathy toward them.” – George Gribbin
  50. “In the editing process, you refine your copy to express what you want to express with the fewest words.” – Joseph Sugarman
  51. “Avoid the “hard-to-grasp” headline – the headline that requires thought and is not clear at first glance.” – John Caples
  52. “Does your marketing promote the difference between good and bad or better and best?” – Daniel C. Felsted
  53. “If you want something stuck in someone’s head, put it in a sequence of three.” – Brian Clark
  54. “I understand social proof is one of the most powerful levers to convince somebody to enter your funnel or start talking to you online.” – Aaron Orendorff
  55. “There’s no such thing as ‘hard sell’ and ‘soft sell.’ There’s only ‘smart sell’ and ‘stupid sell.’” – Leo Burnett
  56. “Use pictures only to attract those who may profit you. Use them only when they form a better selling argument than the same amount of space set in type.” – Claude Hopkins
  57. “Write your own endorsements and get influential people to agree to put their names on them.” – Casey Demchak
  58. “Considered your brand a life experience.” – Daniel C. Felsted
  59. “Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you are doing, but nobody else does.” – Stuart H Britt
  60. “Effective content marketing is about mastering the art of storytelling. Facts tell, but stories sell.” – Bryan Eisenberg
  61. “Nobody has a magic lamp which can tell you in advance whether what you say will be effective in persuading an audience.” – Maurice Saatchi
  62. “Quality content means content that is packed with clear utility and is brimming with inspiration, and it has relentless empathy for the audience:” – Ann Handley
  63. “Sometimes the best copy to sell a horse is, “horse for sale”.” – Jay Abraham
  64. “So the most effective thing I have ever found in advertising is the trend of the crowd. That is a factor not to be overlooked. People follow styles and preferences.” – Claude Hopkins
  65. “We don’t want to be something for everybody, we want to be everything for some people.” – Carlos Ghosn
  66. “Each problem has hidden in it an opportunity so powerful that it literally dwarfs the problem. The greatest success stories were created by people who recognized a problem & turned it into an opportunity.” – Joseph Sugarman
  67. “The more tools you have to work on a problem in the form of experiences or knowledge, the more new ways you can figure out how to solve it.” – Joseph Sugarman
  68. “The ideas presented in your copy should flow in a logical fashion, anticipating your prospect’s questions and answering them as if the questions were asked face-to-face.” – Joseph Sugarman
  69. “Simplicity is the outcome of technical subtlety. It is the goal, not the starting point.” – Maurice Saatchi
  70. “The more your copy sounds like a real conversation, the more engaging it will be.” – David Garfinkel
  71. “Start with empathy. Continue with utility. Improve with analysis. Optimize with love.” – Jonathon Colman
  72. “Don’t focus on having a great blog. Focus on having a blog that’s great for your readers.” – Brian Clark
  73. “The most important persuasion tool you have in your entire arsenal is integrity.” – Zig Ziglar
  74. “The only real test for authentic marketing is: do you share the dark stuff? People connect with your failure far more than they connect with your successes.” – Aaron Orendorff

To Sum Up

Scanning copywriting quotes is an excellent way to think like history’s best copywriters…

Not even AI copywriting software can give you these kinds of personal experience knowledge bombs.

But it’s not nearly enough to get their level.

Now you know how they think…

Incorporate these lessons with some of my copywriting exercises and get one step closer to becoming a copywriter of legends.

If you want to dive deeper, here are my other copywriting articles:

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About Brendan Aw

I’m an ex-marketing executive for 6 & 7-figures high-growth startups turned writer, creator & entrepreneur. I share my learnings on digital entrepreneurship, personal finance, and remote working while helping run my family’s crystal chandelier business.

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