Tag Archives: Jerry Matthews Copywriter

when mixing potentially gets messy

One of the “joys” of breaking into a new market is getting your name out there. There’s the slow, plodding cold-calling-one-person-at-a-time route. Or there’s tapping into big(ger) gatherings of like-minded professionals where the potential to mingle has greater mass appeal.

I’ve been attending the Ad Fed luncheons now for a few months, and have been lucky to meet some very nice people who have not been bothered by my constant nudging for introductions. These affairs are always sit down meals with guest speakers, with a little social time before and after. Granted, most of these attendees have to rush back to office jobs, but it’s been a nice, varied group I’ve met so far.

Last night was the big MarCom mixer. I had been told it was “the” event to attend for networking purposes. And it didn’t prove to be wrong. I met some great people last night, and had the opportunity to finally chat with some I’d been introduced to on other occasions.

The part I didn’t get (nor did I partake of) was the food. I never ventured over to the buffet tables to see the spread, but what I saw on people’s plates….well, it really made me LOL. Seriously, I know putting out a spread for a big group can be a challenge. I learned that from my 10+ years in the food biz. But when you have hundreds of people (with only limited opportunities to plop down to eat what you’ve scored off the buffet), why would someone choose RIBS and HUMMUS??!?!?!

Neither facilitate mixing by any means. One leaves your hands a mess, which makes me hesitant to shake any of ’em after they’ve been chowing. And the other potentially leaves your breath reeking of garlic, and would make even the strongest of us want to pull back when someone leans in to be heard over the noise.

That being said, the mixer left a great taste in my mouth. It was a successful evening of networking for me. And I’m guessing it was a success for the hosts, too. The agency’s office is way cool. And I hope to have the opportunity to hang around there more in the future.

There’s one thing I’m learning about this town, and myself, is that you do have to mix things up to be introduced to the right people at the right time. Even if that means getting a little messy in the process.

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the “duh!” heard all over the ad world

According to another article from BusinessWeek online….

A survey from IBM’s Institute for Business Value shows that CEOs value one leadership competency above all others. Can you guess what it is? (Wait for it…..wait for it….)

Da-daaa-dummmmm! Survey says!

CREATIVITY!!!!??!?!

Really! I know what you’re thinking. That’s what most of us in the ad biz do every day — come up with creative solutions to meet the needs of clients for their products and/or services. And as it is for me, it’s deep within my core. That “what is that USP and how can we use it to compel people to buy/click/call” drive that isn’t fueled by Red Bull or other caffeinated beverages. It just is.

But I suppose there is a unique process for those in the biz world who play in different sandboxes. (Although I read a very interesting take on the current state of the ad world a couple of days ago that mentioned how the influx of big corporate conglomerates has given more power to the finance people than the creative department, but that’s a whole different story.)

Until now creativity has generally been viewed as fuel for the engines of research or product development, not the essential leadership asset that must permeate an enterprise.

In face-to-face interviews with our consultants, they said creative leaders do the following:

Disrupt the Status Quo. Every company has legacy products that are both cash—and sacred—cows. Often the need to perpetuate the success of these products restricts innovation within the enterprise, creating a window for competitors to advance competing innovations. As CEOs tell us that fully one-fifth of revenues will have to come from new sources, they are recognizing the requirement to break with existing assumptions, methods, and best practices.

Disrupt Existing Business Models. CEOs who select creativity as a leading competency are far more likely to pursue innovation through business model change. In keeping with their view of accelerating complexity, they are breaking with traditional strategy-planning cycles in favor of continuous, rapid-fire shifts and adjustments to their business models.

Disrupt Organizational Paralysis. Creative leaders fight the institutional urge to wait for completeness, clarity, and stability before making decisions. To do this takes a combination of deeply held values, vision, and conviction—combined with the application of such tools as analytics to the historic explosion of information. These drive decisionmaking that is faster, more precise, and even more predictable.

So, I guess I’ll continue to think “creative disruption” (as opposed to disruptive creative….which can get annoying really fast if not abso-freaking brilliant in concept and execution). It’s how I roll.

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signs, signs, everywhere a sign

It’s almost election time here in the ABQ. And we all know what that means….

They’re all over town, on practically every corner where they’re allowed. And it makes me wonder…..do these colorful rectangles of cardboard really work?

I know it’s an inexpensive way to get your name seen by the masses. But does it really say anything? I mean, I’ve seen at least 8 or 9 different names of people running for sheriff. But just because I see their name on a sign, does that mean I should vote for ’em? What am I supposed to do? Vote for one candidate because I happen to prefer the color blue?

I know this is akin to browsing down any big box/grocery/drugstore aisle. We all know it takes more than just being present to build brand loyalty. So do these hopeful politicos really think that having their supporters put signs up in yards/on street corners will really help people at the polls?

Besides, we all know it’s really those few candidates that raise enough money (or in the case of one governor hopeful here, having deep enough personal pockets) to get on the air. A recent poll showed the top 2 Republican candidates just happen to also be the only ones who are currently running TV spots. Coincidence? Naw…they must have more signs up.

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of praise and copiers

“The average company takes better care of its copiers than it does its talent.”

So says an article for BusinessWeek.

I recall many days/weeks/months when I was punching a time clock (well, since I was salaried, there really wasn’t one) that I, like so many coworkers and others out in the business world, were putting in the extra effort under the guise of “it’s the right thing to do.”

Or was that more “I have to do it. Otherwise, someone else will, and I’ll find myself in the ranks of the unemployed.”

So I stayed chained to my desk. There was one stretch at one company where I ate 9 straight meals at my desk. Sure, I got to go home and sleep (a little), shower, change clothes, only to be back with my shoulder to the grindstone. But as my loved one (who I was barely getting to interact with, let alone see) reminded me….

“If you dropped dead in the office, they’d just step over you on the way to the copier.” Turns out it didn’t really matter. Despite the heroic effort put in by the whole team, the agency still lost the piece of  business, which led to all but 2 or 3 finding themselves relieved of their positions.

Kinda harsh. Then again, this economic environment is harsh. Sure, there is good news on the horizon. Recent numbers are showing that there is an increase in jobs popping up on the horizon, with fewer people competing for these new jobs and other vacant ones.

As a current freelancer who hopes that the right full-time job will come along soon, this is good to hear. Sure, freelancing has been good. But there have been obstacles. As more freelancers compete for opportunities, it often turns into a bidding war. But just how low can you go? There is a long comment stream on a group posting for freelancers who (for the most part) chastised one freelancer for (albeit innocently, for all general purposes) charging too little and over-delivering. The mob consensus was A) the guy was doing a disservice to himself by shortchanging his contribution to this particular project/company, and B) ruining it for all of us by charging so little.

I’ve been lucky to find companies who appreciate what I bring to the table, and pay accordingly. That seems to be one of the positive statements in the BusinessWeek article. Seems that the workforce is starting to wake up and realize they don’t have to settle for just any job. There is something to dignity and self-respect, even in this harsh, competitive market.

Only those companies that make the effort to keep their employees productive by treating them decently can expect to see continued productivity gains.

I’ll continue to freelance while building relationships with local companies in the hopes that I prove to be too valuable to not bring on full-time. And when I do, I’m hoping to hear these encouraging words….

“We’re hiring you for your talent—now go do something brilliant.”

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social awareness? or social suicide?

Name just about any large company these days, and chances are you’ll be able to find them on Facebook. Or tweeting their chubby lil fingers off. Sure, this prevailing trend to add social media to your marketing plan has been building for some time. But, is it really doing any good? Or is it really doing more potential harm?

I, personally, don’t connect with too many companies/brands on Facebook. There are a few like Peet’s Coffee and Moonstone Cellars that I “friended” but don’t necessarily “follow.” (This is especially true for Peet’s since I now live in a Peets-free zone.) There are also a few bands (like the Indigo Girls or Levi Kreis) that I follow, but that’s not exactly the same kind of fan that companies are rushing to FB to find IMO.

My journey into FB hell was mostly prompted by friend requests of the local sort. Once I exposed myself to the masses, people from high school and college were finding me online. I gladly accepted any and all friend invites. It was great fun to reconnect with some of the people I’ve lost track of. That is, until I started reading/hearing about the privacy issues that are running rampant on FB.

One of the latest can be found on gizmodo.com. The “Top 10 Reasons You Should Quit Facebook” lists a bunch of things that I know I need to think more about. And also be careful about.

If I, Joe the Individual, needs to be extra leery of not only an account being hacked, but also an identity compromised, what happens to all the individuals who “friend” a company/product/brand? Can all that information be hacked, too? Could a competitor be able to hack into the friend base of another in an attempt to sabotage or steal?

I don’t know the answers to these questions. I just know for myself that I have started to ween myself off FB, and striving to kick the habit of wanting to constantly check back with all the feeds.

Guess what it all comes down to is getting back to more face-to-face interaction, and less Facebook interaction. And to recognize that it’s not always best to be up with the latest and greatest marketing tools until said tools can guarantee that privacy matters.

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a’far

Things are starting to heat up here in the High Desert. And with this warm up — and dryer conditions — comes greater risk of wildfires.

Having moved from SoCal where fires have done significant damage, I tend to notice when the sign at the Petroglyph National Monument says “severe fire warning” in bright red.

I have also noticed several “Get your Smokey On” billboards around town.

I remember when this campaign broke almost 2 years ago. I was working for the agency who produced ’em. While clever in execution, I never “got” the line. And apparently I wasn’t the only one.

I read several comments online that the line sounded more like an invitation to light up one of your merry-ja-wanna cigs. It wouldn’t surprise me if there was some sort of truth to that. (Or if it was the “source” of inspiration.)

But back to the line, it’s meant to remind people that we are the cause of most forest fires. And that’s not just blowing smoke.

“Research shows that many Americans believe that lightning starts most wildfires. In fact, more than 88 percent of wildfires nationwide are started by humans and the majority of these fires are accidental. The principle causes are campfires left unattended, trash burning on windy days, careless discarding of smoking materials, BBQ coals and operating equipment without spark arrestors. As such, the number of misinformed is quite alarming and threatens to become a contributing factor that will impact our environment.”

I know, for me, that every time I see a cigarette butt go flying out a car window, I really want to grab it and throw it back in the car’s window. I don’t like the world around me being used as an ashtray. (It’s the same with all the dog crap in the arroyo behind our rental here in ABQ. I always pick up after my dogs, even in these big, open wild spaces. I treat it just as I would by own backyard. But, based on what I see over some of the fences in the ‘hood, I guess these people ARE treating the arroyo like their backyard. Disgusting!)

I know that advertising, by its very nature, is meant to get people talking. And if the line (that sounds vaguely like an invitation to fire up the 420) gets people to think about their actions….to think before they flick….then I guess it works.

Then again, I guess that’s just my thoughts on a fire….from afar.

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i believe i can fly…

At this week’s NM Ad Federation monthly luncheon, the group brought in a couple of CDs from KC to dish about the “Creative Departments Dirty Little Secrets.”

One of the “secrets” they discussed was time lines. Their take is that every project, no matter the size or complexity, needs 2 weeks. Of course, this 14-day period is for concepting only, and not necessarily to deliver a production-ready ad.

The thought of a deadline can sometimes stop me dead in my tracks. I think part of that is I’ve always thought of myself as someone who “flies by the seat of my pants” and someone who does things “on the fly.” I can be quick with ideas. I can turn on a dime. But sometimes you just need a chance to let things incubate. You have to step away from the keyboard and just take some time to breathe, soak in the views, people watch, slip away to neverneverland.

It’s during these times of processing that I have to remember one very important thing: FLY. Set the brain free and see where the current takes you. Jump. Run like the wind. (Ok, that last one doesn’t happen as often now that I’m inching toward the mid-century mark.)

More than anything, trust my instinct. Does a brown pelican think about gliding just above a breaking wave? Hell no! It just does. Nothing wrecks good creative like over-thinking. It’s like trying to fly with 20-lb bowling balls strapped to each ankle. This is especially true during the concept phase. That’s when it’s time to just let loose, and know that among all the shit being strewn about, something magical is there.

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to resume the résumé

I’ve always been a big proponent of “letting my work do the talking.” It’s not the easiest thing for me to brag about the who/what/how/where of the last big chunk of my professional life. That’s when I feel it’s best to send people to my portfolio site and let them see what I’ve done rather than tell them. With this thought in mind, I’ve spent the past week or so revamping my site (whether that motivation came from boredom or a real need is TBD….but I’m pleased with how it looks) and rethinking my résumé.

Of course, Seth Godin in Linchpin states that “if you’re remarkable, amazing, or just plain spectacular, you probably shouldn’t have a résumé at all.”

Well, who doesn’t think they’re any of those things? I know I feel that way about myself at times. On one level, I agree with Seth’s POV. My portfolio SAYS more about who I am and what I’ve done with the talents I’ve been blessed with and/or cultivated than a 1-page Word document. Isn’t it better to see examples of the long-form copy I’ve worked on for global clients than to say I’m an expert with brochure copy?

Unfortunately, the admission ticket to any new opportunity these days seems to rely on a résumé. Now more than ever, it’s not really about the story, no matter how meticulously displayed on the page, but whether or not you have the appropriate keywords living amongst all the others. And that doesn’t even include the challenge of getting your résumé in front of the right person who can then (hopefully) locate those special keywords.

It reminds me of the National Geographic special, Sizing Up Sperm. Seeing a “life-size representation of the struggles that sperm endure just for the hopes of fertilizing an egg” was so relevant to today’s job search that it was downright scary.

It’s even more of a challenge these days since moving to a new market with fewer “eggs” to target. But rather than blanketing the whole town, I’m in the embryonic stage of cultivating a few key relationships with people I’ve been lucky to come across (and who have been nice enough to make the time to meet with me).

I know that my quest for a successful career with an agency here in ABQ is going to rely more on these key contacts than a few choice keywords on a résumé. This town seems to be more about personal connections than a well-crafted Objective statement.

But, back to Seth’s thinking on the résumé, he makes a valid point that a “résumé gives the employer everything she needs to reject you.” So part of my challenge for the past few days is rethinking how I want to express my creative abilities on something that is less than creative. How do I remain in the game without playing the game by the standard rules of compliance?

I know that the great gigs out there aren’t posted on the job boards. And rarely are they found by blindly emailing an electronic document to some unknown recipient. That’s why I’ll continue focusing more of my attention on making personal connections rather than making the ideal word choice or format on a résumé.

You never know when someone who knows someone who heard that so-and-so was looking for someone just like me might be the next someone that I’m introduced to.

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reading for inspiration…

For the past few months, I’ve been enjoying blog posts over at pleasefeedtheanimals.com. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a great resource for anyone who has recently found themselves….displaced on the employment train. The “owner” of the site, Erik Proulx, has even made a movie about it, LEMONADE.

Anyhoo, there is a series of entries inspired by the book, Linchpin, by Seth Godin. This series is just a few of the  wealth of great ideas constantly being generated by the contributors of PFTA, a lot of which I’m really needing to see right now. After seeing my freelance business “stall” during the first 6 weeks of 2010, I need something to keep me motivated and moving forward. Seeing the following on Seth’s blog is definitely something I need to chew on, and upload to my way of thinking.

There’s a lot of pressure for freelancers to fit in, conform and comply. It seems easier to generate new business that way. That’s not really true. It’s easier to become an easily-described commodity that way, but the person who’s willing to push themselves out to an edge that matters is on the only path that actually leads to success.

And then it’s up to the client to care enough about the project and in making a difference to have the guts to hire you.

Granted, in this economy, it’s not easy to find the gutsy clients. I’m sure they’re out there. The key now is to make myself into the edge-sitter and remind myself that I am worth the price of admission.

Two days ago, I received my copy of Linchpin, plus a few other books recommended or mentioned on PFTA. It’s time to start energizing my creativity with the help of some wise people who look at things a little differently than me. I’ll look forward to posting about my “progress.”

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i guess advertising really does suck

As pop culture goes, so goes some advertising I suppose.

It all started back in the summer when I was concepting new brand spots for a state electric company. One of the messages we wanted to get out was about “energy vampires” (aka phantom energy). We even did a radio spot, with accompanying print ad and billboard, that helped get the word out about all they wasted energy people are paying for just by leaving things plugged in when not in use.

It’s only once these started hitting the market did I began to notice a similar theme in other advertising. (It’s probably like, once I have my eye on a new car that has my interest that I start to notice them all over the place.)

Here’s one print ad I recently came across in Wired magazine.

Even Microsoft is taking a bite outta the hype that is Twilight.

All told, I can’t be too surprised by all the different advertising messages using similar (if not the same) themes. But I am grateful that I didn’t have to sell my soul to continue working in a biz I really like….but not ready to die for.

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