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The Power of an Artful Pitch

On day as we both pushed our young daughters on the swings in a neighborhook park, Raymond McKinney (a CD at The Martin Agency) told me “Good work that is presented like shit… is shit.” Luckily our daughters were both too young to pick up on the colorful language that gave flavor to that GREAT advice. I often recall those wise words, and I usually flip the quote around 180 degrees. It then takes on a little different meaning:  “Any work that is presented real well… is better work.”

Learn how to present work from the master, Peter Coughter.

Getting people to buy an idea takes two important things:  1) a good idea, and 2) a good presentation. Too often we focus so much on the idea an how the idea looks, that we forget to make sure the work is presented well.

One of the best presenters in the ad business is Peter Coughter, a colleague of mine at VCU. For years he has been inspiring young minds on the art of the presentation in his class called “Persuasion” (MASC-664) at the VCU Brandcenter.

I have never sat in on his classes, but it’s been a wish of mine for years. His work is that good. In January we’re all going to get the opportunity to learn from this master. Buy his book now, and it will make all of your work a lot better.

“The Art of the Pitch: Persuasion and Presentation Skills that Win Business”

by Peter Coughter

Release date:  January 3, 2012


Good reading in advertising and marketing

A colleague sent me this note today:  “A friend of mine is getting into undergrad teaching in SF and was wondering what I could recommend for reading, I told her “Hey Whipple” and Malcom Gladwell’s stuff, but that I would ask you.”  Here’s my reply. I’m sure my quick list is missing some good books. Please add your recommendations in the comments section.

– “Made To Stick” talks about developing good ideas and communicating them so they catch on. It’s not about advertising, but it addresses core issues in advertising. It’s an easy read.

– I like all ad students to be able to think like planners. “Hitting the Sweet Spot” and “Truth, Lies, & Advertising” are good on that subject.

A good guide to idea generation in any business including advertising.

A good guide to idea generation in any business including advertising.

– The PBS Frontline show called “The Persuaders” is a great intro into the basics of the brand communication process. It’s not a “reading,” but it’s good. Free to watch online.

– For the creative side, I like “Creative Advertising: Ideas and techniques from the world’s best campaigns” by Mario Pricken. It nicely spells out the creative brainstorming process.

– “Zag” by Marty Neumeier is an introduction to brand concepts and strategies. It’s a concise and easy-to-read review of the basics.

– I agree with your pick of Gladwell. I like “Tipping Point” and “Blink.” I have not read “Outliers” yet, but it’s on my list.

– “How Brands Become Icons” (by Douglas Holt) is about big brands like Coke, Nike, and Bud. I like how the author spells out cultural branding and shows how it works for any brand — big and small, national and local.

– Call me nostalgic… I still like “Ogilvy on Advertising.”

– For beginning art direction, a subscription to “How” magazine is good. The “Before & After” newsletter does a nice step-by-step of creating stuff.

– “Communication Arts” magazine.

– I also agree with you on “Hey Whipple, Squeeze This.”

– On the marketing side, I use a lot of articles from the AMA magazine called “Marketing News.” The reoccurring article called “Best In Class” is usually a good place to find good case studies.

– To learn how to get a job and to have a good career in advertising, marketing, and any business, “Radical Careering” is tops.

Okay. What did I leave off?  What should not be on this list? Share your comments, please.

Great Advertising Books, part 1

In “Creative Advertising,” Mario Pricken lays out the creative process for generating wonderful ad ideas. He has fantastic brainstorming techniques and great suggestions for fostering inspiration when stuck. The book is full (and I mean full) of practical methods for creating innovative and unforgettable ads. To demonstrate the ideas and methods he discusses, there are countless examples shown.

“Creative Advertising” is a must read for all entry-level creatives. For seasoned creatives, the section called “KickStart Catalogue” is the prefect creative generator. For me, the book is always ready to give a boost when the ideas aren’t big enough or when the number of ideas is too low. Pricken even addresses how to work best collaboratively.

Here it is on Amazon.