On Being a Marketer


No nursery rhyme today.

Today’s “lesson” will be more direct.

  • No image to promote sharing or to grab your attention.
  • No keywords or tags to catch you in search.
  • Barely a category assignment in the blog (and that’s because I just can’t bring myself to leave something loose, outside of a bucket).

It’s a strange week. Busy, happy, sad, demoralizing, confusing … the world around us sometimes makes us want to become workaholics, but then a call comes and interrupts the moment.

For me the call came from a former colleague, one who chose to stay in the agency world working side by side with marketers. Me, I had chosen to go back to client-side. I have my explanation as to why that sounds nice and happy, but underneath it I realize it’s because I was really starting to dislike marketers.

I’m a marketer.

It’s what I do, it’s who I am. My former colleague is a marketer. It’s what he does, it’s who he is. I will always take calls from him because we have lived through a lot, and still don’t think for a split second that we know what we’re doing … it’s always about learning. The conversations, brainstorming, problem solving discussions our calls bring are refreshing and thrilling, and remind me why I love this profession, this calling so. It’s a distraction from reading the crap that other “marketers” dump out there daily. (I’ve all but given up on Twitter because I too often find myself saying I hate marketers.)

It’s why I do the Nursery Rhymes for Marketers. I want to remind people why they do this, what they do when they market, and what goes into it, or rather, what SHOULD go into it. Too often it doesn’t. Too often it’s a fall back with people who try to coast through and push responsibilities for research on to other departments within agencies, or on to automated results, or following templates for repeatable programs as if people, consumers, audiences don’t change.

So as an intermission to the Nursery Rhymes I give you the master of them all, a few select quotes from David Olgilvy, who after all these years, still remains the final word in what we, as marketers, should strive for,  who we should be, what we represent. He’s never been about following 7 steps, or 3 ways to get rich.

Sit back, enjoy, and for the love of all that you give a crap about … learn.

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

Once upon a time I was riding on the top of a First Avenue bus, when I heard a mythical housewife say to another, “Molly, my dear, I would have bought that new brand of toilet soap if only they hadn’t set the body copy in ten point Garamond.” Don’t you believe it. What really decides consumers to buy or not to buy is the content of your advertising, not its form.     ~David Ogilvy

Readers travel so fast they don’t stop to decipher the meaning of obscure headlines.     ~David Ogilvy

Set exorbitant standards, and give your people hell when they don’t live up to them. There is nothing so demoralizing as a boss who tolerates second rate work.    ~David Ogilvy

Supposing you’ve got an acute appendicitis. You’ve got to be operated on tonight. Would you like to have a surgeon who’s read some books of anatomy and knows how to do that operation — or would you prefer to have a surgeon who refused to read all books about anatomy and relied on his own instinct? ~David Ogilvy

The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible.    ~David Ogilvy

The consumer isn’t a moron; she is your wife. You insult her intelligence if you assume that a mere slogan and a few vapid adjectives will persuade her to buy anything. She wants all the information you can give her.     ~David Ogilvy

We exist to build the business of our clients. The recommendations we make to them should be the recommendations we would make if we owned their companies, without regard to our own short-term interest. This earns their respect, which is the greatest asset we can have.     ~David Ogilvy

And one final word from me … stop letting your creative directors lead strategy. Creative Directors are awesome, talented artists.  I say this with awe, respect, and a tinge of jealousy … by the nature of a creative, they are not the best to determine the mindset and thought processes of any group of people, aka an audience. Their thinking is just plain different, off the rails, outside the lines. Again, I say this with respect and jealousy. Let them be who they are as their minds soar and talent flow. Don’t “make” them do the strategy. It’s a conflict of interest. Let the strategy inspire them.

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