I’ll see your tendency to marginalize and raise you a failure.

When you operate in the margins, you will get quick wins.


But, at what price?

Time and time again, it seems like those are quick, unsustainable wins.

Heck yeah! We beat them.

But, look out, here comes that swinging pendulum of marketing doom!

Right back at you. And, to me, it seems it puts you in a death spiral.

Every day, if you choose to live and fight in those margins, you gotta get up, pick that battle, and live in the world of negativity.

Trash talk. One-up-person-ship. Puffery and Balderdash. Spin doctor land.

Tough going over there.

Or, take a step back on that bell curve. Maybe to 13.6% land. One standard deviation away from average. To me, it seems that is where sustainable results can be delivered over time.

Look where you can define the problem. Sit there. Work the art and science of marketing to communicate clearer. Increase reach, frequency, and trust.

Deliver the results and the reason why.

And, work for products that truly care and make a difference.

Be like a plodding elephant. Day after day, plowing, plodding, step by step.

Because, quick wins also deliver quick losses.

If you can’t fit your idea on a Post-it note, it’s probably not a very big idea.

This is the post where I flip through the current book I am reading (sporadically, for the second time) and write a quick note on a point the author made.

It is hard work to distill ideas down to their essence.

Cut through clutter.

If we had more time, we’d write shorter emails, releases, and letters. (borrowed)

Here is what was on the Post-it note on page 151:

“PetSmart – the only thing dogs and cats agree on.”

Discuss…. the ads write themselves.

Source: Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This – Sullivan and Boches

A dose of Reality is always good

I’ve read the book Reality in Advertising more times than I can count.

A professor I had at West Virginia University worked at Ted Bates.

His name was Mel.

Mel moved to Morgantown, West Virginia, late in his career.

He became a mentor for many of us in my class.

And, he gave me the best gift: he sent me and my classmate on a hunt for this gem.

Mel reinforced and shaped how we thought (and think) about communicating ideas.

At the time, I had no idea how much he shared with us would guide my thinking.

Even today.

I think of Mel every time I pick up this book. His critiques. His challenges. His candor.

Fragmented media has made it more difficult than ever to reach people.

The algorithms behind the platforms isolate people with more of what they already know.

The content we create – without following the premise above – has the potential to be a waste.

A waste of energy.

A waste of money.

A waste of resources.

Most importantly, a waste of time – for the writer and the reader.

I am writing this to remind myself of the value of research, focusing on results and USPs.

Also, to recommend this book if you can get your hands on a copy. You can’t have mine.

No puffery.

Usage Pull.


Fast, Fast, Fast relief.


And, pumice.

As we all turn to what’s next. I am really glad Mel sent us on our way to find that book.

Marketing is broken, fragmented, and harder than ever.

“No one knows our story,” they say.

They will want to change the words you write. Criticize the fonts you pick. Revise, reshoot and question the pictures you choose.

They will attack your ideas with flame throwers. All of them. All the time.

You will wonder why they asked you to solve the problem in the first place.

Why don’t they just do it?

Here’s why: you are the catalyst that will make it happen.

And, you understand that marketing is more difficult than ever.

Because the fragmentation , mobilization, and socialization of information has made everything and everyone harder to reach. Customers take themselves down rabbit holes.

If we don’t make our marketing plans and strategies pull them out of there and speak to them: our effort, time, money and wonderful ideas will never be seen, read or heard.


I’ve learned if we don’t fragment our plans and strategies as much as the media is fragmented: we will not solve the problem we have been asked to solve.

The art and science of building #ReachFrequencyTrust changes everyday.

But, there is power in data, unique selling propositions and the clarity.

The advice I have for you is to show up.

Do it.

When marketing works – it’s rewarding and fun to watch.