When you are about to start a business, you are heavy on ideas and light on everything else. Every day early on is packed with considerations about what kind of company you want to have, and how you want things to be, and how you’ll innovate and do things differently.
If you want to learn about business, or advertising, or the business of advertising, you should really read this book. I just did, and these are some of the quotes I came away thinking about.
Never stop testing, and your advertising will never stop improving.
This is the first and best case I tend to make to my clients about good advertising practices, especially digital. The more we learn, the better the ads get, and the more we sell.
The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible.
Empirically, my team knows this to be true. Sometimes it takes us a while to get rolling, but once we start making each other laugh, something good is just around the corner.
Don’t bunt. Aim out of the ball park. Aim for the company of immortals.
This always has to be the deal, or you don’t belong in my shop; and if I’m not inspiring this behavior in my team, I scarcely belong there, either. We sometimes fall short of this - hell, we usually fall short - but if this is where we’re aiming, we’ve opened ourselves up to the universe of possibilities instead of cloistering ourselves away from good ideas with narrow or passive thinking.
I have a theory that the best ads come from personal experience. Some of the good ones I have done have really come out of the real experience of my life, and somehow this has come over as true and valid and persuasive.
This is about authenticity. The more we know about a company allows to speak about that company in a real way, drawing on that understanding and our own lives to tell good stories.
If you ever have the good fortune to create a great advertising campaign, you will soon see another agency steal it. This is irritating, but don’t let it worry you; nobody has ever built a brand by imitating somebody else’s advertising.
I think the more you try to be good the more original you end up.
I don’t know the rules of grammar… If you’re trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language, the language they use every day, the language in which they think. We try to write in the vernacular.
This is also about authenticity. Often copywriters create a character. The character has to be believable. Natural language is the fastest path there.
Good copy can’t be written with tongue in cheek, written just for a living. You’ve got to believe in the product.
I think this speaks directly to the kind of work we want to do. All we can do is amplify what is already true about our clients. The clients and products that benefit from this will garner extraordinary results from our work. This won’t work for every client, but I don’t want every client. I particularly don’t want a client about which we cannot tell the truth.
“The consumer isn’t a moron; she is your wife.” & “You wouldn’t tell lies to your own wife. Don’t tell them to mine.”
If you respect your audience and give them credit for being intelligent, your work will stick with them and they will respond. This is what separates Louis CK from Jeff Dunham, and Patton Oswalt from Larry the Cable Guy.
First, make yourself a reputation for being a creative genius. Second, surround yourself with partners who are better than you are. Third, leave them to go get on with it.
Every time I hire somebody new, I have to make Swash Labs significantly better. This doesn’t mean just filling a gap in capabilities. Rather, it requires that I find someone with extraordinary energy and talent and then demand it of them every day. If I have lower expectations than this, I am being a terrible leader and don’t deserve their talent or their time to begin with. Getting this part right is the most important job I have, because it determines what not just what we will be, but what we can be.