Why Gratitude is So Important

A day can turn on a dime when your boss tells you how much they appreciate what you’ve done. Similarly, if a customer gives you positive feedback, it warms your heart. But you know what’s funny? The person who gives that gratitude gets as much out of the transaction as the person who gets it. 

There is plenty of research behind this notion, but I’d like to offer a more simplistic view. We all know the Golden Rule, right? Just in case, do unto others as you’d you’d have done to you. We all want to think that people are recognizing our efforts. So instead of waiting for it, show it. Do it and live it. Exemplify it and lead the way to a better workplace, home life and friendship. 

But also, don’t wait for or expect an outcome. Just relish in the fact that you just helped someone to have a better day, and hope that they’ll in turn do the same for someone else. It feels good, doesn’t it?

Got an opinion? Leave it in the comments!

Advertising Thoughts, Copywriting, Marketing Thoughts, social media, Uncategorized

Why Seth Godin’s Rejection Email Was Better Than Most Acceptance Letters


Yesterday, my application to participate in Seth Godin’s summer seminar, “The Agenda Session” was denied. I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t a little sad, because (as a marketer who believes that the acts and voices of businesses and organizations can be used for good and profound work) Seth Godin is my hero. I wouldn’t say that I was shocked when I read my rejection email, however. Only 15 people are accepted to the session every year, a lot of people look up to Seth Godin, and my application was a bit rushed because I wanted to be among the first to apply. All that said, I kind of saw it coming. But one can always dream.

People get rejected all of the time. From jobs. From people. From colleges and universities. What’s the big deal?

What was remarkable about this rejection (yes, his rejection email was worthy of remark) was how touching it was. We’ve all read the We regret to inform you‘s and Unfortunately you were not selected‘s time and time again. And typically we stop reading after we interpret that first sentence to the full intention of the communication. Not only that, but when we receive these rejections, whether it’s in response to a college application, job application or marriage proposal, it leaves a bad taste in our mouth about the organization/person that rejected you. Maybe Microsoft said you wouldn’t be a great fit for that role, so the next computer you buy is a Mac. Maybe USC said their MBA program was full, so you start rooting for the Sun Devils. Yet Seth Godin (as he is one to do) turned the common rejection letter on its head and found a way to create a personal connection with me through a presumably negative interaction. His rejection email was more moving than most acceptance letters and phone calls that I’ve received in my 27 years on Earth. It felt personal. It felt honest. It felt like Seth had called me into his office, closed the door, and with a solemn expression told me why I wasn’t going to get that promotion. And it built in me an even deeper and more profound level of respect for Mr. Godin.

The point is that we as marketers, advertisers and communicators often miss opportunities to create a stronger connection and greater engagement in these kinds of situations. Of course, we are all wonderful at celebrating the good stuff. That’s the easy part. But if you really want to stand out, we need to consider every touch point an opportunity to win more trust and more loyalty. If brands are becoming more like people every day, then think of your brand in terms of your best friends and acquaintances. Your acquaintances love to chat with you about the good stuff, the big stuff, the Super Bowl, the raise, the wedding. But only your best friends will sit down and have an honest conversation about the layoff, the troubled marriage, the loss of a loved one, the rejection from your dream job. That’s the conversation Seth just had with me, via email. And I’m a more loyal fan than ever, now.


Advertising Thoughts, Copywriting

Why All Copywriters Must Be Zeitgeists

–noun German . the spirit of the time; general trend of thought or feeling characteristic of a particular period of time.

Politics. Pop Culture. Social Trends. Technology. Guess what, copywriters, we’ve got to be up-to-date on all of these things.

There is a difference between being a writer and a copywriter. Writers need an imagination, a firm grasp of the rules of language, and knowledge of one particular subject (ideally, the subject they are writing about). Copywriters also need those traits, but we also must be zeitgeists. We must be comedians. We must be political pundits. We must be tech-savvy experts. We must know public opinion on movies, fashion, health care, cars, and anything and everything else going on in the world around us.

Fortunately for us copywriters, I think that is part of the reason we got into this business. If it wasn’t we’d be writing screen plays, novels or newspaper articles. But we love the variety. We love knowing what’s going on about ALL things at ALL times. We’re inquisitive almost to the point of being nosy. We’re like journalists without the AP style requirements or the ethical, objective code. We write about what we want to write about. Okay, maybe not. We write about what our client and creative director want us to write about.

Point is: Stay attuned, stay abreast. Know what’s going on. About everything. I’ve come to realize that the biggest positive feedback in my writing always comes from my timely and culturally relevant quips.

When I took 2nd place in my school’s humorous writing contest, people always said their favorite part was when I joked about the iPhone. This was in 2008, so it was big news at the time. My piece was about airport waiting areas … and people loved the bit about the iPhone. At first it didn’t really make sense. It certainly wasn’t my favorite part of my comedic story. But then I realized that it was relevant to the time. And it all made sense.

I love knowing a little bit about everything, and I guess that’s the key. Be a know-it-all without the annoying attitude. There aren’t many areas in which I’d say I’m an expert, but I do know the basics of a lot of things. And it helps me so much in my writing. It’s just a necessary part of being an advertising copywriter.

Advertising Thoughts

Forget the Steak & the Sizzle … Sell the Status

steak sizzling

Why in the world would someone buy an $80 Lacoste polo when they could get the same exact thing at Ross for $10? Why do women love to see that “C” on their bag when they know their significant other will have to spend half his paycheck on it? Why buy a Lexus when Toyotas are made from the same parts? Answer: Other than the fact that the crocodile looks pretty cool … Status.

When we write copy for products that are high end, the challenge can be to make it sound luxurious, without sounding like you’re trying to make it sound luxurious. Naturally better. Innately superior. Routinely premium. And that’s how it’s got to come across.

I made this mistake with one of the first clients I ever got to write live copy for. It was a resort chain in Mexico that offers high-end time shares in the most exotic Mexican locations. Being young, I thought the best way to convey luxury was by saying it . . . repeatedly. After a resounding “Try again” from my Creative Director, I thought a bit more about it. How do you say luxury without saying luxury?

To this day I sometimes struggle with this issue. I’ve always responded to advertising that is creative yet straightforward . . . but I’m also not in the “luxury” bracket yet. From all my research and study, rich people want to know and be told that they are rich . . . but subtly. And that’s what I figured out on my second draft of my magazine ad for this luxury timeshare resort.

When you are selling anything that isn’t in the bottom rung of its industry, you want to tell your consumer how it’s going to make their life better. Short-term . . . maybe. But how is this product going to make them feel better and look better to their peers for good.

If your consumer buys your car, will their boss respect them more? Any car has horsepower or MPG these days. But what are their friends going to think? Their superiors? What about that candy bar? Will your consumer be the envy of their class when they pull it out of their backpack? Will the teacher get mad because of how distractingly good that candy bar is for the rest of the students?

Here’s the goal. Sell the steak. Sell the sizzle. But for brand loyalty, sell the status.

Advertising Thoughts, Marketing Thoughts

The Importance of Advertising Tag Lines

The 10 Best Slogans of All Time

Everyone loves a good quote. Seriously. Whether it’s wisdom being passed on in the form of an eloquent phrase, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17), a funny statement, “No brains, no headaches,” (Zach Galifianakis, Out Cold), or something that may not even necessarily mean anything to you, but simply sounds cool, like “Ay carumba!” (Bart Simpson) For the record, I know that last one is used in a state of shock in the Spanish language, but I’m guessing most Americans who say it have no idea what it means.

Quotes are a huge part of every day life. From the advertising tag line to the Facebook update. Speaking of which, with the advent of social media channels, such as Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, etc, quotes have become more popular than ever, being passed along through updates, posts, comments and tweets.

As an advertising copywriter, your goal (and mine) is to create one of these marvelous one-liners that resonates with people in such a way that not only does your catch-phrase, tag line, or slogan come to the mind of your consumer when they see your brand, but that your same line is thought about during every day life when the right emotion is struck, whether your brand is there or not. It should evoke emotion, whether it is playful, humorous, pensive, thoughtful or even frightening, a la Michelin’s, “Because so much is riding on your tires”. Now that’s one hell of a phrase. I don’t have kids yet and I can already tell that when I do, and I pack my minivan full of my loved ones, that phrase will pass through my mind. And maybe I’ll buy four of Michelin’s best tires. Maybe I won’t. But the point is that they are on my mind in a situation that I normally wouldn’t be thinking about tires or safety.

Tag lines are fun when done correctly. But it’s not all just sitting with your feet up in a conference room throwing a football back and forth with your partner until lightning strikes. There is research that must be done. There is strategy that must be followed. There is understanding that must be found. Once you find that little piece of a company that stands out from the rest . . . just one little piece that makes it better, stronger, more interesting, sexier, more appealing, whatever . . . once you’ve found that, then it’s just semantics. Find the right way to say that little diamond in the rough that you’ve uncovered. Because every company’s got something.

Hell, Avis found their differentiator by looking at market share. “At Avis, we’re #2, so we try harder!” I’d like to meet the genius who said, “Let’s tell everyone that we’re #2!” Honestly. It’s brilliant! I’d also be really interested to see the initial reaction of the creative director when that copywriter pitched it. And of Avis’ marketing team when their ad agency pitched the idea to them. But it worked. It was an amazing idea and a unique campaign. And it was all because they didn’t half-ass their strategy session by talking about the same old rental car topics. They could have said, “Well, we have a huge selection of cars. And our people are nice. Our prices are very fair too!” But they looked beyond the typical Sunday newspaper quarter-page ad copy and found something that made their brand stand out. But what happens if that campaign works too well? If they get to #1, they’ve gotta restart everything?

I digress.

My point is that tag lines are the most fun, creative, and rewarding thing an advertising copywriter can create. It’s your opportunity to put a stamp on someone else’s brand. Marking your territory, at least for a while. But again, it’s not just spit-balling. It takes time, effort, and real dedication to create your messaging strategy. But once that is in place, get creative! Create something that people will quote on Facebook for years to come!

Make it count!

Advertising Thoughts, Marketing Thoughts

Humans: A Life in Sales

Many times in life, it’s not necessarily about having a great deal of worth, but being able to eloquently elaborate on the worth you possess. In fact, most of your life will be spent trying to sell yourself, without necessarily trying to better yourself, whether you are trying to sell your charm and manliness to get the girl, sell your accomplishments to your boss to get a raise, getting the job in the first place by selling your abilities during the interview, or selling yourself as the alpha male to your friends.

I work in the advertising and marketing industry as a copywriter, so I live and breathe sales. Making one product sound better than another has become second nature to me. Whether the one product is superior to the other is irrelevant at this point, because what will truly make the sale is how good our website looks, how often our brand communicates with you, the consumer, and how eloquent we are when we tell you about ourselves. The quality of the product is more of an afterthought.

I mean, come on. I know I’m going to take a lot of flack for this from the die-hard fans, but please oh please tell me the difference between Nike and Reebok. There may be a very, very slight style difference. I believe I’ve heard the level of comfort as a factor from time to time, as well. But come on, who gives a shit? It’s a sneaker. The only thing you are doing is playing into that sales pitch that these two brands have been throwing at you for years. I guess I wouldn’t really know, though. I wear Sketchers . . .

And the same things happen in life. Growing up, you’ll see guys get girls that you want because they are “smoother” and sell themselves well. You’ll see coworkers get promotions ahead of you because they constantly tell their boss about what a great job they are doing. It’s do-or-die out there right now, and those that are doing are the ones who are selling.

We’ve reached a new level of evolution in our species, where it doesn’t just pay to be the best; you have to be able to convince everyone else that you are the best as well, even if you’re not.

I’ve always preferred the idea of letting your actions speak for you. If you’re good enough, you shouldn’t have to talk about it. But look at Muhammad Ali. Son of a bitch walked and talked with the best of them. But then you can look at Matt Hasselbeck in the playoff overtime loss to the Green Bay Packers. When Hasselbeck and the Seahawks won the coin toss in overtime, Hasselbeck said, “We want the ball cuz we’re gonna score.” Well, just a few plays into the drive, Hasselbeck threw an interception, which the Packers ran back for a touchdown, eliminating the Seahawks from the playoffs. Woops. Guess that one didn’t quite pan out, did it?

Being a confident salesman is similar to being a good gambler. Every time you put your product out there, you are also putting yourself out there . . . All of yourself. So, if it works out well, you reap bigger rewards than the guy who quietly works hard (the equivalent to the guy only putting down a few chips every turn). But, when it falls through, you lose a lot more than the guy who quietly makes a mistake. If you are a good salesman, however, you should be able to find a way out of your predicament, because truth be told, you’re bet isn’t always going to work out.

So that’s all; Just kind of a perspective on mankind’s life of sales. Think about it the next time you want something, because unless you are really rich, incredibly good looking or have the power to use Jedi mind tricks, you are going to have to sell yourself in one way or another. Should it be that way? Or should we let the quality of people and products speak for themselves? Who knows. I’m in advertising so I root for the former.