Archive for the ‘small town advertising’ Category

September 14, 2017

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“Yes, I’ll have a TV spot, some VCM, 2 schedules of radio, a direct mail piece … oh, and refresh my web site with some new SEO.”

“Very good, sir. I’ll be right back.”

If an ad agency were a restaurant, it might go something like that.

But it’s not.

Forgive the restaurant metaphor, but it seems so appropriate. Clients shouldn’t be selecting from a menu, yet there are still agencies that attempt to sell “today’s special”. Isn’t every advertising problem unique?  Shouldn’t it be cooked to order?

While I have been in small market advertising all my life, surely the philosophy is the same no matter if you’re in a diner or a white tablecloth establishment. Clients need to trust that you are preparing exactly what they need. They should feel your passion, concern, interest, and enthusiasm. They deserve lavish communication and want direction!

Clients – and customers – are gold. They come first. Always. It should be the underlying philosophy that drives every agency action.   

And everyone in the agency needs to understand that. Before any programming, coding, writing, shooting, editing, or media placement begins, every creative person who touches the project needs to know the goal of the client. And, just because we have a special on lamb chops doesn’t mean we should serve them to everyone. If you’re trying to sell the thing that will be the most profitable for your agency, then you’re doing it wrong.

Finally, everyone likes to dabble in the kitchen, but there can be only one chef. That’s the Creative Director, who is responsible for serving up a final course that translates into client success.  Even if it’s something that is not on the menu.

 

 

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Big Desk

August 14, 2017

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It’s an attitude that’s everywhere … and one that needs to stop. Especially in the advertising business.

Big Desk.

You know these people and you’ve seen it in their body language. You’ve heard it in their tone of voice. A “Big Desk” attitude is showing up to the meeting with that “I’m here because I know everything you need to be successful and I’m gracing you with my presence because I’m so busy and important but I’ll make a little time to try and help you.”

I remember the ad girl who was chastised BY THE CLIENT for endlessly checking her phone instead of listening in their meeting.

The young ad novice who leaned back in his chair, laced his fingers behind his head, looked up at the ceiling and said, “Well, Mr. Smith, we’re here to help you.”

Then there’s the client who used to work for our agency. We were calling on him. In his sharply pressed new suit, he sat down behind his desk in dramatic fashion, brought his hands together and said in a steely tone, “What do you think you can do for my company?”   As his former boss, if I could have fired him right then and there, I would have. (By the way, he didn’t last long in that job.)

Whether you’re buying or selling, arrogance isn’t a good quality and there’s a lot of it in the ad world. Advertising is not a “one and done” business. Relationships are vital because trust is everything. Trust solidifies your business. Trust takes time to build. In my 32+ years of small market ad work, I built my business by spending time with my clients and learned what kind of people they were. I tried to anticipate what they needed and give them solutions to the problems they faced. And most importantly, I did it sincerely because I gave a damn. In the process, many of them became close friends. Even better.

A real winner in the ad business doesn’t come across as a used car salesman. Being sincere, genuine and vested doesn’t cost a thing. Take that extra step to make your relationship extraordinary, even if it means losing a buck or two.

Besides, Big Desk is just plain rude.

She’s bossy. And has an answer for everything.

June 17, 2017

Yup. Guilty as charged.

During my time as a media sales rep for a small town radio station, (my first real job) my manager got a call from the owner of a Mexican fast food chain. He demanded I be replaced with someone else.

Why?

“Because she’s bossy and has an answer for everything”, he said. My manager replied. “I understand. I’ll get you a new rep. But I need to ask you, if she doesn’t have an answer to all your questions, who will?”

She had my back for several reasons. A) I had the client spending a ton of money on our radio station B) I was one of the top sales people at the station C) I genuinely wanted clients get to results D) The client was right. I was bossy.  I still am.

In over 35 years of advertising and sales experience, this guy was the only one (at least that I know of) that ever complained about my approach. Others have described me as “nice-bossy”. I have always pushed for my ideas but in the end, the client gets to do what they want.

You get to be “bossy” when A) You demonstrate that you genuinely give a damn B) You have formed a real relationship with the client that has established trust C) You know EXACTLY what you’re talking about and can back up your claims with facts that give you the ability to have the answer “for everything”.

And what if you get asked something you don’t have an answer for?  You say:  I don’t have that answer right now, but I will find out and get back to you.

No matter how big the client is, they need and want direction and leadership. They don’t want another order taker. You’re getting paid to deliver results and ideas. If you can’t demonstrate real enthusiasm for a client’s success, even if it comes down to being a bit bossy (in a nice way), then you need to find another way to earn a living.   Like working the cash register at the Mexican restaurant.

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Why I Sucked at Owning an Ad Agency

June 13, 2017

I started my agency before I was 30 years old with no college degree, no real experience other than selling radio time, and a passion for writing. I wanted to exercise my creative muscle, produce commercials, work with clients to make their business better. All lovely notions.

People typically go into business for themselves with their one skill. But they lack the other critical traits it takes to avoid heartache and failure. For example, I had no idea how to read a balance sheet or a profit and loss statement … I figured I had an accountant for that.

I had zero management skills. My old boss used to tell me, “Managing creative people is the hardest thing you will ever do.” How right she was! Your employees are working for completely different reason than you. It’s not a family. It’s a business. I thought if you cared for employees like family members, nurture them and provide what they needed to be successful and do good work, we would all live happily ever after.

Wrong.

My codependent approach to managing staff was my undoing in the end. My naïve, yet well-intentioned method in handling people ended up in several misunderstandings and broken relationships. I trusted too much and trusted the wrong people, leaving my faith in humanity shattered.

After 32 years as an agency owner, I sold the company almost three years ago. I started in a spare room and ended up with Emmy nominations, Telly awards and other recognitions. I made a living, was responsible for livelihoods of 7 other people, and worked with an incredibly diverse roster of clients. Most of the creative now is “cut and paste”, which saddens me, and much of my work is still out there, which is a compliment to my talent and passion that started it all.

Business ownership is not for soft-hearted, pie-in the-sky thinkers. It takes structure, discipline and the ability to “know what you don’t know”.

Lesson learned.

I’m Baaaaaack!

June 12, 2017

I took a little hiatus from the blog.  Since I sold my little agency almost three years ago,  I moved to the family farm, where my nearest neighbor is a mile away and I learned poison ivy is a real scourge.  I missed advertising, though, and my outlet here, where I’ve met some interesting people over the years.

Several months ago, the new owners of my agency asked me to come back and help out a little.  THAT has been an interesting experience, with some moments I’ll share in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, let’s get a new conversation started, one-sided as it may be in the beginning.   AdChick is BACK in the nest!

Chicken

Chief Cook and Copy Writer

February 4, 2010

Ah….it feels good to be back. Or does it?

My sweetheart had a serious car accident. In a second, priorities shifted. But now that he’s better, reality  has shown its large ass and I’m reminded what the entrepreneurial experience is all about. After 27 years on my own, why am I still surprised how intense a day can be? It’s like the bus pulled up and everyone got off at the same stop. Clients need copy changes. Media needs to be planned.  Staff need a paycheck. In order to give them one, bills must go out. And surely, there’s a Yellow Pages Sales Rep who needs to be cursed.

In a small agency, you don’t have time to bask in gossip, awards, or winning new business. You learn to spin plates, buy time, reason quickly, stash snacks in your desk, keep beer in the fridge, teach clients to work on your time table, not theirs, and do it all with a certain amount of grace. That last part I have yet to master.

Today, I made a dent in the pile, engaged a potentially awesome new client, and planned tomorrow. I left my desk after 12 1/2 hours, numb and brain dead, but thankful that tomorrow I won’t have to answer to some ego crazed Art Director, put up with some annoying intern (no, not YOU Mags!) or a too-familiar office girl. It’s my nest and along with the stress comes the right to surround yourself with cool people who love makin’ the work. No Assholes Allowed.  It’s good to be  back!

Please…take a number!

A parting gift

November 4, 2009

Our Intern this summer…she was a walking, always talking, nervous, sound effects machine.  But we loved her. When I finally kicked her outta the nest, she presented me with a gift that keeps on giving.  That girl has a bright future.  Check it out:

WTF

Don’t make me use my stamper!

Turning on a dime

October 28, 2009

When you’re a small agency, you can do that. Turn on a dime. You can jump through a hoop and make it happen without inter-office bullshit, egos, protocols or hierarchy. So today when a client called and needed to change his commercial to push bananas at 39¢ a pound, we stopped everything else and did it.  In less than 3 hours, revision uploaded to the FTP. Boom. Done. I work with such cool people.

imagesDime turning.

It’s what we do.

It feels good.

Etch-a-Sketch Art

October 27, 2009

There’s no recession in Hooterville. Today has been a blur. We’ve got one client with the Swine Flu, and one who thinks he’s going to get a full blow presentation of spec work by Thursday. THINK AGAIN. So I got out my Etch-A-Sketch (had one as a kid, and have one at work) to pass some time in thought…then I found this. Whoever did this has nothing to do…or was on a conference call with that ONE client…yawn.  (via GadgetHIM)

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They Said, I Thought

October 14, 2009

It’s really a wonder we have any clients left. The guys I work with just shake their heads. The older I get, the more impatient I become with clients. When I decide to waitress, I hope I can keep my mouth shut.

Our in-house designer?  Oh, she can do that.

If she could, then you wouldn’t be here…give it up.

We don’t know who the customer is, we’re hoping you can tell us.

If you don’t know, then I KNOW I don’t.

My wife is really artistic…these are some of her logo ideas.

Then you should hire her.

We did these ads.

Your children are ugly, oops, I mean these ads suck.

And I really have said this:  “With all due respect, what you are currently doing obviously isn’t working, or you wouldn’t be in my office.”

Welcome to small town advertising.