In my career, I don't think I've gotten much good advice. Even from smart people who meant well.
I think there's a simple reason why. In the line of work I stumbled into chose, at the time and place I got started, there was a particularly negative return on experience. Perhaps one day I'll write a piece that fully unpacks why I think that.
For now, I'll just summarize by saying that echoes of creative-revolution-era Madison Avenue combined with a general hollowing-out of the marketing profession left a generation of agencies and marketers believing either that good creative didn't need to sell anything or that their job was to be inoffensive to literally everyone. And the lessons where they learned this stuff came primarily from experience. I've come to believe that in marketing, every idea has a half-life. Even the very best approaches, the ones that stand the test of time, are decaying.
The smartest thing I think a person in this field can do is understand just how fast their methods are failing and act accordingly. If you've got a winning formula, by all means, repeat it. Just know that gravity is pulling you toward failure.
I genuinely believe that as long as you get results, there is absolutely no wrong way to do this stuff.
But for what it’s worth, here's my most basic framework.
For lack of a better title, I'll call it How to Be a Marketer. There are three elements:
- Deeply understand how markets work, how to communicate effectively, and what it means to be a human being.
- Use those fundamentals to put the swirling, sloppy mess in context.
- Think quickly, and make changes on the fly.
That's it, really. The keys to my kingdom. I suppose it's a little odd for me to offer advice following the headline I put on this post...but I'm going to attempt to draw a fine line here.
First of all, the framework I just shared doesn't comment on any specific act of marketing a person might try. It's a method for training yourself and making decisions, but that's about it.
Second of all, I'm not actually saying this is how you should do it. I'm only saying what works for me.
And, in the final act of heresy in this first post, I'll tell you who I'm writing it for. Me.
I write these words to help myself figure out what I think. I'm sharing them in the hopes that perhaps another person might find them helpful in their journey to figure out what they think.
That's why this newsletter exists. And if you read it, and you think you just got advice, well, I hope you revisit this first post.