Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Marketing Paladins RoundTable

My apologies to King Arthur, and to
Charlemagne, too, for that matter!
As my long-time readers (and friends!) know well, we here at Jay Standish, Inc. LLC are nothing if not inveterate travelers. We try each year to manage a grand tour of these United States - and sometimes our friendly Provincial friends to the North (eh?) - meet-ing, greet-ing, and seminar-ing our way hither, thither, and yon.
On one of my recent gala-vants, I was able to sit down with some of the finest minds in marketing and advertising. Sadly, it was not an actual RoundTable as our title indicates, but rather a series of conversations in a series of venues (most of them at Red Roof Inns - many having both indoor pools and free in-room Wi-Fi!).

As my most recent missive may have made clear, I (along with most of my bi-athlete prep-school chums!) have long had a fondness for military strategy, history, and so forth - not that I'm the model of a modern major general, by any means! Nonetheless, among the tomes over which we would pore in those days (and nights!) were the recountings of the exploits of the knights of King Arthur's Round Table (there was surprisingly little mention of flour or other wheat-like products, but I digress) and those of the Paladins (though not the one from San Francisco, I fear!) of the court of Charlemagne.
Granted that these were distinct groups, operating in different regions and at different times, I was drawn to the camaraderie and bonhomie evidenced in both groups of men. Accordingly, when I find fellow professionals who seem to embody the absolute best of the marketing (and advertising!) field, I have come to dub them the Paladins of Marketing, or Marketing Paladins. I imagine them sitting around the RoundTable, discussing at length, and with great vim and vigor, the most important topics and disputations of the day.
Thus, when I have the chance to sit down with one of these modern day Marketing Paladins, I feel it's a chance I must take - and a record must be made.
This, then, is the first in an occasional sub-series of newsletters which will grant you, the reader, an insider's look at the workings of some of the finest minds I know. This first installment is the record of a conversation I had with one of my good friends, and one of the earliest supporters of our full-motion-video-equipped beverage vending machines (sadly, our business deal was never - quite - consummated).

"Joe" did ask that I disguise his identity, as there was some chance of his leaving his then-current employment in a simply peachy Southeastern metropolis and heading for dryer climes out West. I have endeavored to keep his identity somewhat hidden - not least by slightly editing (or even leaving out!) the answers to some of the more personally-identifying questions, and by employing that in-famous "blue" oval. Still, I believe that all and sundry of our readers will find "Joe's" thoughts both enlightening and refreshing. [In case you're wondering, "Joe" may (or may not!) be a pseudo-nym or "nom de guerre" for my actual interviewee - but I'll have to keep you wondering! Yoiks!]

Jay: What's the most important thing you've learned about advertising?
"Joe:" The ability to deal with change isn't good enough. You must have a passion to drive change.

Jay: Is there any food that helps you think more creatively?
"Joe:" To what food group does a cigar belong?

Jay: If you had to live on a desert island, what would you miss most?
"Joe:" How about some more details? Does the island have a golf course?

Jay: What got you into this business in the first place?
"Joe:" I was a pre-med refugee who stumbled into a marketing major. I really enjoyed my advertising classes (both of them!) and had a portfolio, comprised of the best of my college art courses. Looking back on it, it's a wonder why anyone hired me after they saw it.

Jay: Who was a big influence in your career?
"Joe:" I was fortunate to have several mentors during my career. They taught me media's technical skills, how to manage and inspire people, and how to have fun along the way.

Jay: What was "your finest moment," the thing of which you're most proud?
"Joe:" I'm proudest when someone I taught along the way has become successful in their ad career.

Jay: Do you have a method for coming up with ideas and solutions for clients?
"Joe:" Get to know a client's business, then, get to know their customer. Not just who they are, but how they live, act and think. I want to understand all of the rational and emotional factors in their purchase decision process.

Jay: What talent do you wish you had?
"Joe:" To write music and carry a tune. Not a perfect note, just one good enough so I could be the lead singer in a punk band. [note: At this point, I was pleased to introduce "Joe" to my associates, Morgan and Shannon, who were two of the members of the (sadly) now-defunct Celtic-Punk band, Left Sister Down. It seems nothing ever came of that meeting.]

Jay: What makes a great brand?
"Joe:" The ability to listen to their customers, then adjust to those customer needs. The great brands will continue to have relevance and give value to their customers.

Jay: What was your most embarrassing moment in this business?
"Joe:" Back in the polyester days, I had a pair of pants literally fall apart at the seams in the office. I learned a real life lesson on the value of quality that day.

Jay: What are your plans after advertising?
"Joe:" Lots of travel. With golf clubs.

Jay: What's your favorite sports team?
"Joe:" Anything [hometown]...[NBA Team], [NHL Team], [MLB Team] and yes...even the [NFL Team].

Jay: What frustrates you the most?
"Joe:" Negativism. I want to beat bloody hell out of people who aren't positive. @ssholes. [sic]

Jay: Do you have any pets?
"Joe:" No pets. I have a tough enough time making sure that [my boss] goes on the papers.

Jay: What was growing up like for you?
"Joe:" I grew up with [Y] brothers, [X] sisters and a whole gang of kids on a playground in a small [Midwestern] town. Every day was a blast!

So there you have it. The first full download of a wide-ranging and stimulating conversation with one of my Marketing Paladins sitting with me at the RoundTable.

Last time, Jay wrote about combining skill sets in unorthodox fashion:
Holger Hesten responded:
"Jay, I felt I was really a part of your chess boxing match as I read your newsletter. I still don't see how it helps me as a marketer, though. Of course, there are plenty of times I'd love to grab a client and punch him silly...."

Hold on there, Holger! There was no call to arms meant to be included in my last missive! Rather, it serves (or should!) as a reminder that we often have skills which are apparent only in our avocations which can be of great use in our true vocations (or callings!). That's how it should help you as a marketer. Should you desire further guidance, we here at Jay Standish, Inc. LLC stand ready to help.


-- Jay