I have never seen good advertisements arrive in my mail box.
In fact, here in Sweden, I could probably count the number of good ads I have ever seen on one hand.
This morning I found a direct mail piece from one of the largest banks in Sweden with the headline “Do you also want to be a happy [bank name] customer?”
I don’t think there will ever stop being opportunities for anyone who has spent 15 minutes and studied anyone who has actually figured a few things out. Like Claude Hopkins, more or less the father of modern direct response, wrote Scientific Advertising. It’s a short book. Read it in an afternoon.
The Big Dumb Companies with dumber ads will probably never stop running dumb ads, because people who understand marketing find it all too painful and horrifying to deal with Big Dumb Companies.
No matter what you do or what field you are in, there are big opportunities to be exploited by anyone who has some common sense and understand the fundamentals. Especially marketing fundamentals.
An example would be the whole “modern art” thing. An aspiring artist sees a Picasso painting and decides to start making weird things and call it art.
If he is good enough at self-aggrandizement, he might eventually find himself on the wall in a museum.
And all the while, he couldn’t paint a realistic apple to save his life.
This sucks, sure. People who can actually paint watch this clown in horror and disgust and call him a sell-out, and probably worse thing.
And no matter how much they complain, people keep writing checks to the other guy.
This is true everywhere. And more than anything else, what it really proves is what Gary Halbert always said about copywriters:
“We are not in the copywriting business, we are in the self-aggrandizement business.”
You too, my friend, are in the self-aggrandizement biz, and you better get hip to it pronto.
The thing is though, that it’s not an either-or business. You can be really good at what you do and also be really good at marketing.
You can be a really good painter, and then do the same things as that “sell-out” to put yourself in the museum.
When you’re in a business where you can more easily distinguish good from bad you have to be good at what you do. Especially when you make things people use and expect a result. Then it’s easy to tell. Either it works or it doesn’t.
When someone makes bad things and markets well, we call them scammers and charlatans. You can’t be a charlatan painter, because brush strokes on canvas have no utilitarian value.
One of the biggest a-ha moments I have had in learning marketing was when Dan Kennedy said “The more you are paid for who you are, rather than what you do, the more you are paid.”
Wow. In other words: You are in the self-aggrandizement business.
Donald Trump isn’t in the real estate business. He’s in the business of being Trump.
Today's writing music: N.E.R.D.'s album "Nothing." About the first 5 or 6 songs.
Photo via cmescamilla on flickr.