Ogilvy-On-Advertising-Lessons

“You Don’t Meet Many Dumb People in Advertising,” and Other Advertising Lessons

I got my first job in advertising as the result of a college paper I’d written. It was about a scene from Shakespeare’s “Henry IV Part 1,” where Falstaff — not scared to be a coward — is questioning the whole concept of “honor.” I was there, interviewing for a job any young writer would die for, with no experience, no advertising credits in college, and no advertising portfolio.

Little did I know, I was talking with a local legend in Dallas advertising: the late, great Les Gibson. I would come to have a lot of good stories about him in later years.

“It’s good writing,” he said, when he finished reading my paper. “But what do you know about advertising?” Part of me felt frozen. Was this my Falstaff moment? Should I stay and fight? Fold up and disappear? Or try to talk my way through it?

“I’ve never had the chance to write an ad, but I’m willing to learn,” I found myself saying, not sure what he would make of the answer. But a thought seemed to cross his mind, he got up from his desk, told me to hang on, and disappeared down the hall. A few minutes later, he returned with various objects and papers in hand – a bar-code reader, some pictures of software screens, and a painted porcelain eagle.

“Three spec projects, if you want to take a shot,” he said, laying the items on top of his cluttered desk. “The bar code reader reads bar codes, and this model is the newest and smallest one. The software needs a name and an ad written. The eagle is for an ad in The Reader’s Digest. Call me next week and show me what you’ve got.”

I left the interview feeling equal parts excitement and fear about the speculative “test” work I had just been given. I wasn’t really sure where to start! So, I did the only thing I knew to do at the time: I looked for answers in books. I bought a hardbound classic called Ogilvy on Advertising at the local bookstore that afternoon, and read it cover to cover, including captions, that evening. It was a joy to read, and it told me everything I needed to know that day.

I called Les the next morning to say I had the ads ready

He told me to come in. “Let’s see what you got.”

Introducing the best little bar code reader you can get your hands on.
Give yourself a hand around the office with 9.2.5 software.
This timeless masterpiece is yours forever … in four easy payments of just $69.95.

Les smiled when he saw the first headline, then took a red pen to my copy. “You’re missing something, here,” he said. “Something important. If you want to write copy, it’s one thing you can never forget.”
Then he said something else unforgettable: “I’m rolling the dice here, but I’m willing to take a chance on you.”

Here are some advertising lessons I learned that day

  1. Don’t let a lack of experience stop you from pursuing your goals. If you think you can do it, you probably can.
  2. You can learn what you need to know quickly, if you look in the right places.
  3. Work is always best when it’s fun, so make it that way.
  4. Seize opportunities, they are important.
  5. Show your enthusiasm. It’s the only way others will see it.
  6. Put time on your side; you might need it later.
  7. Let people know your interest – that’s the first step in collaboration.
  8. Apart from headlines, photo captions are the most-read part of an ad.
  9. Give young people a chance. There’s a first time for everything and everybody.
  10. Remember those who took a chance on you.
  11. Always include a call to action in your copy.

– Tony Ammerman, Sr. Creative Contact

About Tony

Outsider-Perspective-Banner

5 Reasons to Embrace an Outsider Perspective

I was amazed, when in college, by how many of my peers knew what their major would be while in their freshman year! I did decide, but even today I find myself fascinated by so many areas of discipline and enjoy exploring new realms that I joke I have yet to decide what I’ll be “when I grow up.” When you approach new opportunities and possibilities in this way, it is not unusual to experience resistance and skepticism by those who have trained and studied in a specific discipline. I strongly believe the ability and desire to learn new things are paramount to happiness and fulfillment, and contend any organization that embraces this perspective is better off for five main reasons.

“Where all think alike nobody thinks very much.” – Walter Lippman

Reason #1: Shake Things Up a Little

When you are watching a play unfold in front of you – whether football or theatre – you are able to see a wider perspective. The trick is to not approach your fresh perspective as Monday Morning Quarterbacking, but in fact to challenge the way things have always been done with appropriate reverence for foundational principles. Insiders may be too steeped in the organization’s past practices to envision new approaches, and therein lies the outsider’s value.

Reason #2: Excuse for Asking Questions

I cannot tell you how many times I have spoken up to ask a “stupid” question when everyone else acted like they understood … only to discover many people didn’t understand, but were hesitant to unveil their ignorance. When you have been in an environment long enough, it is often viewed as unacceptable to ask a very basic question. When you are an outsider, it is expected. Take advantage of this and ask those questions! By doing so, you are giving others an opportunity to learn something they were supposed to have known all along.

Reason #3: Apply “Foreign” Principles

When I worked for General Motors, the Japanese methods of continuous improvement were embraced – Kaizen means “change for the better.” This constant, continuous improvement is a mindset that can be applied anywhere, at any job.

This works not only for principles and philosophies, but sometimes tools and techniques. What works at a law firm to improve processes may also work at an advertising agency.

Bringing someone on board from another industry or profession is practiced all the time … it’s called Consulting!

Reason #4: Brainstorming

In order to truly brainstorm, everyone must agree there are no bad ideas. This is a tough one, though, when an outsider doesn’t have the same background as most of the team and doesn’t speak the same “language.”

A team that truly embraces brainstorming will encourage participation by EVERYONE … especially those with varied experience.

Mark Strand, captured these feelings in the opening lines of his poem, Keeping Things Whole. “In a field, I am the absence of field. This is always the case. Wherever I am, I am what is missing.”

David Burkus, a Forbes contributor, put it this way:

“As individuals grow in their expertise, their opinions about what won’t work may grow because of past experiences trying similar ideas and failing. Those with enough expertise to generate an idea, but not enough to dismiss it untried, end up testing more ideas and, even though most still fail, every once in awhile they discover an untried idea that leads to disruptive innovation.”

– Why Innovation Needs Outsiders

Reason #5: Identify New Opportunities

I have enjoyed the opportunity to be a “connector” through my exposure to and experience in various industries. For example, a client looking to trademark their branding appreciated the fact I could connect them with an intellectual property attorney. A diverse set of competencies and backgrounds can also provide a unique perspective to identify opportunities to enter new markets, target a different type of client, and develop professional relationships and cooperative agreements.

I guess I will always be an outsider of sorts. I am thankful for the discomfort in order to enjoy the benefits.

– Cheryl Roberts, Operations Manager

triad-five-guiding-principles

Triad’s Five Guiding Principles

An effective company must have a strong foundation of principles on which it is built, principles that will ultimately define the company.

When we mindfully apply our core principles, we can be assured that we are moving our business in a direction that is aligned with our goals.

We have Five Guiding Principles that form the basis of our company:

  1. The First Guiding Principle is that Our only limits are those we impose on ourselves. These words have become more than a motto for Triad. It is a belief system. We as an organization are focused on pushing through any possibly self-limiting barriers, which will fuel our improvement as a marketing agency.
  2. Our Second Guiding Principle is based on our specialization in B2B marketing. This specialization plays a key role in assuring that we serve as an effective B2B agency for our clients.
  3. The Third Guiding Principle is based on our “client-centric” approach to business. Our team is fully focused on meeting our clients’ marketing needs. Supportive of this principle, we see our success being reflective of our clients’.
  4. Taking a serious, non-frivolous approach to our clients’ marketing efforts is the Fourth Guiding Principle comprising the foundation for Triad. We understand the impact that an effective marketing program can have on the sales success of our clients, and our efforts are directed by that understanding.
  5. The Fifth Guiding Principle, and perhaps the most important of the all, is the belief that the most important job of B2B marketing is supporting the client’s sales effort. Whether it’s selling a company’s brand, a product, a service, or a point of view, the first job of B2B marketing is to sell.

For Triad, identifying our Five Guiding Principles has been a key to our development as a company. The better we define what we are as a company, the better we execute as a service provider to our clients.

However, we fully understand that being fully aligned with company principles will always be a journey, not a destination.  So, every day, we follow our Five Guiding Principles in working to improve on the services we provide our clients as well as the overall operation of our company.

– Tom Prikryl, President & CEO

press-releases-quick-tips

5 Quick Tips to Improve Your Press Releases

Follow these quick tips to help your press releases get picked up by the media.

1. Create a Press Release Template

Find or create a template for your press releases. Using a template ensures your press releases look professional, branded, and cohesive. A journalist is more likely to pick up your press release if it looks professional. A press release template will also keep you from forgetting or incorrectly formatting information in your press release.

2. Front Load Important Information

Journalists don’t have time to read your press release word for word at first viewing. Load all the important information in the first paragraph to make it easy. A journalist should be able to answer the quintessential six questions after reading the first paragraph. Make sure you first paragraph answers:

  • Who
  • What
  • When
  • Where
  • Why
  • How

3. Insert Key Stakeholder Quotables

  • Executives
  • Project Leads
  • Excited Customers/Recipients

Providing great quotes up front can give you a leg up on the competition when it comes to press releases. Add quotes from people key to the story, internal and external stakeholders. The easier you make a story to write the more likely a journalist is to pick it up.

4. Provide Valuable Background Info

  • Noteworthy ways the project developed
  • Creative ways the idea was conceived
  • Obstacles that were overcome

In addition to making your press release newsworthy, providing valuable background information can add context and color for journalists. Boring press releases at best make boring news.

5. Make the Information Obvious

Keep your company boilerplate succinct and straightforward. Explain what the company does in plain English so journalists understand. Include a link to the company homepage early in the release so journalists can quickly reference the website. Be sure to provide links to any sources cited in the release. And include instructions how the journalist can obtain hi-res images.

Use these five quick tips to improve your press releases. Have press release tips of your own? Share in the comments. Or, contact Triad and we can help you plan your next press release for maximum exposure.