Monday, August 30, 2021

Show me.

Thank you to https the marketoonist 

One of the maxims of advertising--of communication, actually--is that we're better off, we're more convincing when we show rather than tell.

That's why most decent writers prefer facts to adjectives. If I were working for a cruise line, for instance, I wouldn't try to write some sibilant sentence on the sumptuousness of their cabins. I'd like to be able to say something tangible. Like Swabian leather is used in the upholstery (no barbed wire, no little cuts in the surface) and our rooms are about 25 square feet larger--that's extra-space about the size of a queen-sized bed.

The thing about "communications" today is that even though we have phalanxes of planners, a seemingly-endless array of account people and more project managers than there are projects to manage, I don't very often see a brief or get a sound bite that's as succinct and synthesized as the two examples above.

Just as “Adventure is not in a guidebook and Beauty is not on the map. Seek and ye shall find.” The same can be said for interesting details. They're usually not found in powerpoints or briefs.

I've found them by reading. I've found them in annual reports. I've found them by talking to engineers and listening to focus groups. I've found them by reading some more--reading everything. 

Of course, noticing them and listing them is one thing. Finding out and explaining the purpose behind them is another. And that takes this thing we call thinking. It takes asking questions. In the clarion words of America's greatest-living historian, Robert Caro, it means you must "turn every page."

The only way to train yourself to do this is to train yourself to do this.

For fifteen years, I've beaten myself into finding something interesting to write every day.

Though I am an anachronism in today's world--especially today's advertising world where we seem content to say content is anything anyone creates, I am not budging from my beliefs.

I still fundamentally believe in the old AIDA. Attention. Interest. Desire. Action. To be effective, a communication must contain these components or it will be unheard, unseen, unmotivating, unremembered and uninspiring. Today, it seems most agencies and clients believe only in the second A. Thinking they can get Action on the cheap.

Not only do they ignore Newton's Third Law of Motion, that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, they ignore an even older belief that you can't get something for nothing. They think if they yell enough, I'll buy their shitty beer or switch my cable (lack-of)-provider.

Creating another tweet for processed corn chips proclaiming something "The Official Snack Food of Football," is about as interesting as a sneeze into a wet facemask. It adds nothing to the facemask and it can get you sick.

When you get down to it--regardless of your "role" in advertising or at the client--our job is to find something interesting to say. That means looking at something old in a new way. Or digging deep deep deep and uncovering something no one's thought of before. Or expressing an idea in a way that's never been expressed.

Very often people shake their heads and say to me, how do you write every day?

I don't usually say anything.

Other than mumbling that I believe in showing, not telling and my job--is showing that I can find something to say every day.

In today's era of "always-on" brands, where Arm & Hammer baking soda sends out nine messages a day on 27 social channels, every-day-ness is our business.

I'm old.

I'm not supposed to get social media. I don't really understand the efficacy of programmatic or the algorithmic manipulation behind SEO and other such pseudo-chazerai. 

But I do know that virtually every time I post something, I get a fairly large client engagement from it.

And I do know that about 20 months into running GeorgeCo., LLC, a Delaware Company, I'm probably bigger than most agencies that are bigger than me.

All right, that last part was a lie.

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