When I first got into the ad biz in the 90s, I had visions of Darren Stephens and Larry Tate conjuring ways to get their clients to agree to crazy concepts that may or may not even be true. After all, I grew up in the days of Marlboro billboards. Advertising wasn’t about the truth, it was about sales. So let’s just say that the ad business was considered pretty shady in my conservative southern household.
I went into college thinking I’d come out and teach high school English. I was a writer, but my college didn’t offer a writing major so I took as many courses as I could with the word “writing” in its title. One of these was copywriting. I had an epiphany in that first class—I was born to be in advertising. The thought of coming up with big ideas to support other big ideas was a natural fit.
My mother questioned my career decision. Advertising was deceptive, and so the people who made the advertising must also be deceptive.
I ended up getting hired by an ad agency and in my first year as a copywriter won a bunch of awards, sold a ton of product, and made many clients very happy.
I’ve since gone on to help build brands and tell their stories in the digital realm that get audiences to think about these brands in a favorable light. It’s nothing like the old days of billboards and direct mail (it’s far more effective), but in the end the goals are the same–sales. And you want to know something I’ve learned about advertising that sells?
The best advertising is the truth.
Which is to say, not once in my career have I lied about a product or service in order to create messaging that helped sell things. And believe me, I’ve been asked.
No, I’m convinced that every product or service is interesting enough that all it needs to convince and convert their audience is truth and authenticity. The magic trick, of course, is making these simple truths compelling.
It’s like this, every business has an audience. And those people need what a business sells. They don’t want whistles and bells, they want solutions. And they want the truth.
Because in the end, regardless of the branding and advertising, the truth always wins out.Let’s work together