Words matter

Content is king. At least that seems to be the prevalent opinion in the world of marketing these days. As a content manager working on websites across the country, I’m torn by the need to let clicks drive the story, not the story itself. Sure, there are instances where the most clickable words or phrases for a particular industry just naturally flow into the storyline. But what happens when the fixation on Adword ranking actually hurts?

As part of my current role, I’m “fixing” older content to make it more relevant. I’ve been coming across some really bad content written to appease the older metrics gods where there is so much repetition and obvious cramming of particular key words that it’s almost painful to read. 

Is the ad writer or copy writer that I trained to be pre-Internet now obsolete in today’s clickable world? Sure, this old dog can learn a few more tricks. Still, I prefer presenting a story for the brand when writing a website. I want to engage the reader, not the auto bots that are trolling the site. However, in this world that we now live in, there has to be balance. 

I’m not going to fight to stay in the old way of doing things. I recognize that I can take advantage of online training to become the best at writing content that is highly relevant and clickable. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to abandon creating something relatable just to make it to page one. 

When I step back and assess my current situation, I guess there is more emphasis right now on the word “manager” than “content.” But thankfully there are opportunities like this blog to be more…creative.

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Egg on my face

This morning started like most – after feeding the dogs, I began the task of feeding myself. My go-to of late usually consists of a fried egg or two served open face on a piece of toast with some sort of meat. Ham is a favorite, but today that was in short supply so turkey sausage links stepped in as the understudy (or under the piece of cheese at least).

Having lived in the Land of Enchantment now for nearly 6 years, I have also grown very accustomed to including some sort of chile with my eggs. Again being in short supply in the house (reminder: pick up chile!), I reached for my trusty jar o’ locally made salsa to step in alongside the turkey sausage, only to see some “suspect” pieces floating near the top. Not wanting to risk it, the jar was tossed and I made do with cracked black pepper. Of course, just now I’m wondering why I didn’t remember the sricacha that would have been completely acceptable.
Enter the judge-y mind. Why didn’t I remember the sricacha? Why haven’t I restocked the chile supply in the pantry? Why am I obsessing about my breakfast?

Seeing as how it’s the start of a new year, perhaps it’s a subconscious hangover from the “inspirational” articles I’ve been reading the past few days. You know the ones….don’t make resolutions, set intentions instead. The one that has had the biggest impact so far was 7 Strange Questions That Help You Find Your Life’s Purpose, particularly the one about “How can you better embarrass yourself?”

As I’ve gotten older, I have started to notice that I tend to be very “careful” about how I present things. From the way I act, sing, dress, and especially write is becoming more cautious as if I’m protecting myself from embarrassing myself. And now I read something that sets that on its edge and says to actually look for opportunities to make of fool of myself. Well, not necessarily making a fool of myself on purpose. But more going with the flow/mood and just throwing it out there.

And so that begins with this post. I’ve been struggling to get back into the flow of posting here, mostly because I feel like I’ve nothing of importance to share. But Seth Godin puts it out there that “the reason it’s so difficult to improve is that it requires you to acknowledge that your original plan wasn’t perfect” which makes me acknowledge that any writing is better than NO writing. So here I am.

Thankfully, with no egg on my face from breakfast. Or for putting this out there for anyone to see.

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magic bullet?

there is no such thing. you can’t take a pill and wake up the next morning skinny. you can’t download an app and you’re suddenly in shape.

then why do so many of the small business owners i’m dealing with think there’s such a thing when it comes to marketing? can sending one or two emails (with a weaker “offer” than recommended) really cause people to come knock down their doors?

broadcasting a single message is about as effective as trying to be heard in a hurricane. with so much “noise” bombarding people every day (what is it….over 5,000 these days?), a steady drip is going to be more effective in the long run than throwing a whole bucket one time.

results take time. and effort. it takes consistency, discipline, and focus. it takes being present in the mind of consumers because you never know when they’re going to “need” you or be receptive to your message.

if you throw your message out once, it’s going to be forgotten, ignored. consistently stay in front of an audience and it’s going to be seen and heard. eventually. 

but most import, be valid. be desirable. be present.

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Finding Emo

It’s not uncommon to find yourself at a crossroad in your career path. Sometimes, you’re trodding along and that path may veer on its own. But what happens when you convince yourself that it’s time to get off this path and head out in a completely different direction?

That’s 2014 for my career. I was moving along comfortably in a position that was good. I had great clients. I got to play both an account role and creative role, often at the same time. Granted, there were many “arguments” between these two voices during the process. The sugared creative side wanted to go off into the wonderfully free world of creative thinking. The “plain” side was usually trying to rein things in. Thankfully, most times I was able to keep both sides happy.

But then a new third voice started making noise. It was persistent. Persuasive. Eventually it stated its case and a hard left turn was made into a sales position. Keep in mind, at the time I felt it was the “right” turn to make, but after a year in two different sales positions, I found that it left me with no fuel or opportunity to express my creative side. It began to feel like the only thing I was really selling was my soul. 

Don’t get me wrong – sales is an admirable career if you have the personality for it. 

But rarely did I spring from bed with the excitement of going out to cold call people. In fact, after too many weeks of “thank, but not thanks” I found myself feeling numb. But that numbness turned into an ache to get back into a creative field. 

This is where my path thankfully veered back on course. The second sales position transitioned into an account/content manager position and, for the past month or so, I’ve been finding my stride back in the world of writing and helping Mom & Pop’s develop some marketing strategies for their businesses. I’m also getting the chance to write websites for various clients.

What this past year has taught me is that I have to trust my gut, not some foreign voice that seemed to come out of nowhere and drowned out the saner voices both in my head and in my inner circle. It also taught me that my emotional wellbeing is just as important as earning a paycheck. I get more satisfaction out of finding the right words to tell someone’s “story.”

Now to get back to telling my own story and embracing who I really am – a storyteller of sorts.

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shadowy subjects

It was just last week that a certain rodent allegedly popped its head up to predict the weather. According to the “experts” they’re predicting 6 more weeks of winter weather.

From where I’m sitting, I’m seeing things a little differently. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m sitting here in short sleeves in the middle of February and it’s supposed to climb near 70F today (as it did yesterday).

Mostly, it’s because I believe my future is facing the sun, leaving my shadow — and this supposed bleak next few weeks — behind me.

I’m feeling good about the steps I’m taking even if at times it feels as if I’m just walking in place. I know that any movement is better than no movement. More important, you gotta know where you’re going if you want to end up in the right place.

No more throwing darts at a map. No spinning of globes and stopping the world with a fingertip in some random way. Now’s the time for planning, dreaming, organizing and just plain getting my head on straight.

One step — and day — at a time.

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Are you currently in the job of your dreams? Are you doing what you think you’re meant to do? When you answer your life’s calling, is the person on the other end the one you were imagining?

As 2015 gets up to running speed, these are a few of the questions that have been bouncing around my head for the past few weeks. I spent umpteen years working as a writer for a few different advertising agencies and the view of those years in my mind’s rearview mirror all seem to reflect a happy camper. But then came the change of address, and with that a change in career direction.

Now comes the challenge of determining if I could go back in time and never leave the full-time writing gig, would that have meant never leaving the larger metro area we lived in? As a local creative director told me a few weeks, he can think of only 6 or 7 people in my current hometown who get up every work day and their primary job is being paid to write, so the odds of finding a job with a company that pays me to write are about the same as winning the lottery or getting struck by lightning while dancing around a May pole.

But I’m not throwing in the towel (nor am I using it to sop up my sweaty brow worrying about all this). I still believe a FT writing job truly is my life’s calling. But maybe the universe has more in mind for me? For now, my goal is to keep staring at my future self’s reflection (instead of the non ringing cellphone) and dream up the next big thing….or at least the next big gig.

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Baby, it’s cold outside

This is my first holiday season as an “entrepreneur” (read: salesperson, i.e. “independent contractor”), which means this is the first time I’ve been running into more business owners who seem to be in a hurry to jump ahead into the new year. More times than not over the past few weeks….er, really since about the week of Turkey Day…I’ve been told “come back and see me in January.”

Trust me, I understand their sitch. It’s either A) you’re in a retail-esque industry and the very nature of being the holidays means you have more people dropping by to peruse your goods or services than normal, and/or B) you’re in any other business that sets an annual marketing budget that is just about tapped out.

Thankfully there have been a few that have been willing to support my “cause.” What I wish more would comprehend is that, sure the sound of registers ringing is loud and frequent right now, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be preparing for the drastic drop that usually follows right behind that big sparkly ball o’ glass that signifies the new year.

More than anything, I feel like such a pest even walking in some of the doors I’ve gone through the past few weeks. Between retail fatigue and being just plain tired of being hit up by every type of salesperson out there, as soon as they hear that I’m not there to shop but rather sell, the temperature drops.

I guess the good side of all this cold calling during the holidays is that I have at least had a chance to spy a few things here and there that I wouldn’t mind purchasing once things heat back up and I have commish coming in.

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the curse of the blinking cursor

Despite utilizing mind melding techniques, the blinking cursor on this page doesn’t do anything but keep the beat of some imaginary rhythm. It takes putting fingers to the keyboard in an orchestrated effort to actually get words to “magically” appear. It’s not asking for herculean effort – it’s merely asking to break down that blockade and start the stream of words wirelessly appearing on this blank canvas.

But some days it is just that hard. You sit waiting for some brilliant spark to ignite a thought that is worthy of actually putting “out there” whatever it is and for whatever reason any writer writes. For some, it’s about storytelling. Others want to vent or praise. Some just like to hear themselves “talk” through whatever medium they choose.

For me it’s about all of the above. Some days I want to bitch. Others I feel I have a story to tell. Unfortunately, lately there seems to be more days that it’s a plain struggle just to sit down and get something….anything….to come out.

Today, instead of staring at that blinking cursor taunting me on the blank page, I choose to fight back. To interact. To actually control the rhythm from which it moves across the page. It’s not the grand novel. It’s not even an ok idea. It’s just an exercise to prove to myself that I can push through.

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on deaf ears

T minus 8 days and counting before the onslaught of political ads finally cease and desist. Personally, I wish they didn’t exist at all. I don’t think my eyes and ears can take much more. (I guess the ironic truth is that I took advantage of early voting, so this final push, er heavy up, is really not going to change anything on my end.)


This pretty much sums up my thoughts on the effectiveness of political advertising…and this is coming from someone who works in the biz of advertising. Thankfully, I have never been tasked with working on a political candidate…or against another. I really wouldn’t know where to start, but guess it’s like everything else: Do the research, find the unique selling points or key factors that make the product or service (or in this case, candidate) different, and then figure out how to tell their story in a way that reaches the target audience.

Oh wait….that’s kinda old school. There’s no bite…no personal attack. These days it seems it’s less about going on the offensive and instead, digging up the “offensive” little factoids that smear the other guy or gal.

What happened to touting your own experience and beliefs instead of trying to tear down the opponent?

I guess the old saying of “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” doesn’t work in these times of all messaging…all the time.

In 8 more days….all will be quiet on the front line. And just in the knick of time. My sanity (and email INBOX) can’t take much more of this.

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Rising Tides

Having spent a few months now on the “other side of the fence” (at least from an agency POV), I am experiencing some of the same “motivational” techniques that I encountered as a creative here on the media side….mainly public recognition of those who have achieved success of late.

Many a time my art director and I were slated against one (or several) other team(s) vying to get picked to produce a particular project or campaign. While the decision was often subjective, it was always great to be on the winning side of things. But when things didn’t go “my” way, there was always the internal conversation about “what could I have done differently?” or “what did the other team do that I didn’t think of?”

As a creative, I’m always trying to do things that would make my peers (and hiring managers) exclaim “I wish I’d done that!” That outcome serves as my motivation to do better, think smarter, and maybe be a little bit crazier.

My thought was always that great creative inspired others to strive for that same greatness. (It’s a lot like the agency business here in ABQ. There are some seriously talented small regional shops producing some great work. This type of market can only push each other to continue to maintain a level of creativity if for nothing more than local bragging rights.)

In the words of JFK, rising tides lift all ships.

But what about the media sales environment? When I see my peeps in this position succeed with different pieces of business, I stradle the line between envy and self pity because I’m not seeing the same success. Granted, I’ve only been playing on this side of the fence for a few months, and I’m still much more confident in my creative and writing abilities than I am my selling. I know it takes time to be comfortable in my ad sales skin, but how can I use other’s success to motivate me?

Perhaps it’s important to remind myself that while I have confidence in myself, some of this success others are experiencing is based on building relationships over time. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Sure, some will come quick, just like you meet some people and know instantly you’re going to be friends. Others take time to get to know, and even evaluate if you want to be friends with them in the first place. Same goes for new prospects.

Ultimately, it comes down to knowing that the person I’m really competing with – and who I should be comparing myself to – is the one staring back at me from a mirror.

It’s not time to abandon ship. It’s time to get it on the right course..wherever the wind takes me.

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