When I landed a job as a copywriter, I thought it was my ticket out of college. Nearly 25 years later, I’ve realized that marketing actually means a career in continuing education. From my hazing by a 32-page certified retirement community brochure to bending my brain with VR technology, every project has been a learning experience.
If you can’t make yourself interested in a topic, how can you make anyone else interested? Now that “marketing” is an elective for the consumer, relevance and insight are critical. You must offer something more than a clever headline or pretty picture. Well, OK, pretty pictures will always help. But if you can teach the reader/viewer/listener something new, your brand becomes the authority.
In the pursuit of the details, I’ve waded into catfish ponds, hiked vineyards and tried not to touch the blinky buttons inside power plants. I’ve hung out with physicists, bluesmen and welders. I can tell you how many billiard balls fit in a condom (eight) and where to find raccoon meat in Woodville, Mississippi (hang a right at the pork cracklin’ stand).
When our culinary client, Hestan, partnered with Chef Thomas Keller, I pored through his cookbooks to learn his voice. I’ve been lucky enough to eat at his table, share a glass of wine and walk through his kitchen. I’m proud to say I finally wrote an ad that he didn’t rewrite. Whatever it takes, right?
Always improving means always learning. This applies to message delivery as much as message creation. What medium best serves your message and demographic? Where are they? Who are they? Are there new ways to reach them? New methods to engage them? You must continually research, reassess and refine your content as well as your tactics. See the mass migration of teens from Facebook, the demand for vertical video in Instagram stories and the distillation of messaging to :06 YouTube bumpers.
We believe in a culture of education at Ramey. When somebody learns a new tool, trick or trend, they share it with the rest of the team. See something cool you’d like to build? Figure it out and teach the next person. Across the hall from me, Tania is tinkering with augmented reality. Next door, Sam the writer is teaching himself the basics of video editing.
As I mentioned, we’ve been exploring virtual reality for a client. At first it seemed like great fun, but it didn’t make complete sense logistically. Then along came the Oculus Go. Creative Director Josh had the foresight to pre-order a couple of these for the office. The mobility, ease of use and price point present a tipping point for VR. And you know what? It’s making more and more sense for our client. They’re excited. We’re excited. The production companies are excited. I’ll be sure to share what we learned after it’s all said and done. But now, the fun begins.
That’s what happens when you create a culture of education. You have more fun with your work. You find more meaningful solutions. You create more relevance— for yourself as well as for your clients. Now pardon me while I put on this headset and take a surfing lesson.