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.



Seven Thousand Dollars, Please.

Maybe I just don’t understand healthcare, but $7,000 for a hospital visit to be told that you don’t have anything serious, and then be prescribed glorified cough drops seems a little steep. I wish I could be called in for a marketing consultancy project, tell a company there’s nothing I can do for them and then say “$1 million, please.” I got into the wrong business, apparently.

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.

Advertising Thoughts, Commentary, Marketing Thoughts

Social Media & Advertising; A Brave New World

Thoughts on Social Media . . .

It’s like the Wild West out there right now with the social media revolution.  It’s such a new medium that advertisers are scurrying to find ways to make money off of them . . . but for right now, it’s a media free-for-all . . . the newest but most certainly not the last advertising frontier.

Here are a few of my thoughts on the best ways to move forward with a social media campaign, from the agency perspective. (I bet you can’t guess exactly what all of these respective social media outlets specialize in)


1. Entertain AND Educate. What is important is to have the right blend of insightful, comedic, interesting, and fun commentary, along with relevant information about your product or service. No one wants to read a bland press release that just talks directly about facts and figures, when they could learn the same thing somewhere else that also has entertainment value.

On the other hand, you can’t simply be entertaining and funny unless that’s all you are promoting. Your content must be relevant to your client/agency/product/service/etc. Believe me, there are a lot of entertainment/comedy sites that are funnier than you . . . so tell your audience something they don’t know about, and if you can, make them chuckle while they learn.

2. Posts, Posts, and More Posts. The key to creating a decent following, and thus, getting the most from your social media campaign, is to be relentless. People expect content. That’s it. They aren’t going to check your site daily if you’re not posting daily. They won’t check your site several times a day if you’re not making the effort to give them new content multiple times daily.

But also refer to #1 on the list: it must be relevant and interesting; otherwise you can post all the content you want, if it sucks, you’re just left with a lot of babble.

3. Site Outside Sources. You know that you’re not the all-knowing, all-powerful Oz. And so does everyone else. Don’t pretend to be by only writing about yourself, your thoughts, and your agency. Things are going on in this world that are much bigger, smarter, better looking, more interesting, cooler, and much, much more exciting than you . . . and if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

Tell your audience about that cool stuff out there (videos, marketing strategies, websites) and what you’re doing to learn from it, catch up to it, emulate it, what have you.

4. Monotony: The Enemy. If there is one thing the internet/social media is not, it’s monotonous. The best part about the internet is that you can find anything new, at anytime, anywhere. So don’t make your audience go chase it down using Google or YouTube. Be one step ahead and be that one-stop source for your fans to get their current information that is pertinent to them.

If you continuously write about the same thing, you will become the after-thought for your audience and will be used as a quick reference from time-to-time when they are looking for the same ol’ thing. In the case of social media, don’t be the tortoise, be the hare. But don’t rest! Slow and steady does not win the race! Fast, cutting-edge, ahead of the curve, no rest, in-your-face, breaking news wins the race.

5. Any Resource, Any Writer. Some may disagree, but a good company blog should use several different writers/voices. This also depends on what kind of blog you are planning to write, but for this scenario, we are going to be blogging for an advertising agency, and an ad agency is nothing without flexibility.

Think about it, an ad agency is full of different departments that are made up of very different minds. There are right-brains and left-brains, intense go-getters and mellow creatives. I don’t think your audience is going to buy the idea that there is some sort of transcendent, harmonious agreement that occurs between these departments at the end of the day . . . as if everyone got together to enjoy a spirited sing-along of “Kum Ba Ya”.

Tell the stories of the graphic designer. Then tell people what the account executive learned from his business pitch today. Then find out what the CEO thinks about this economic crisis we’re in. Then ask the copywriter to reflect his thoughts about Leo Burnett’s newest strategy for the McDonald’s campaign. It’s all good, and it’s all different, and that will build your audience.

6. It’s A Brave New Medium, Attack! Learn from your mistakes. Everyone will make them. That’s what happens when people start trying new things. The only true mistake is to not learn from it.

Things are changing in the world of advertising. How do you gauge the charge for performing social media tasks. It’s possible to trackback how many hits websites get from your respective social media platforms, but can you really put a price tag on the overall branding message that you’re getting from this B2C communication. Not yet? Maybe? Someone out there probably has it right, I’m not sure which one it is yet. Audiences are changing everyday as they become more and more tech-savvy and every medium becomes more consumer-controlled. Social media will tell your audience about your product, in great detail, without the FCC watching, whenever you want to tell them about it, for completely free or very minimal costs. It’s almost risk-free . . . you know, as long as you don’t somehow offend or belittle your audience.

That is not to say that you shouldn’t have some sort of focused plan, with deadlines, forecasts, and goals . . . they are necessary for any marketing plan and are essential for tracking results and, for your agency, billing.

Those are the basics of social media. You get to have fun with it! It’s a chance to inform and entertain. Not getting any return yet? It’s OK; your campaign is most likely free to run. Be a people person, it’s called SOCIAL media. Make connections through Twitter. Let people Digg your articles. Try WordPress so you can blog for as long as you want to. Need new contacts? Find some local businesses through Facebook, Myspace or Yelp. Are you making a lot of cool videos that the world should see? YouTube or FlickR. And link them all together. Everyone out there is on this World Wide Web, and we’re just little spiders creating our own webs so we can catch what we need to survive: new business.