This post will be the latest in the category, which had 44 posts already. But, since an applicant who didn’t bother to read any of the posts chastised us for sending it to them as helpful advice, after they sent a “To whom is may concern” email, saying we hadn’t updated it since 2012- here’s the update: it’s still all relevant.
You are the product. Sell us you. Not how great you are, but what you can do for us. How you can help us make money- for our firm, for our clients. What skills do you bring to the table that we don’t have already? What’s the brief that you are the solution to?
And while you may have gone to “a top ranked communications school” so did at least 100 others. Differentiate yourself from them as well as everyone else looking for a job.
And, we still expect you to know our name, and tell us what you can do for us. Don’t expect us to guess that you are a social media goddess, or a talented video editor. Give us that up front. Then prove it.
We’re also going to start looking you up. We’ll look at your facebook posts, we’ll look at your twitter feed, your instagram, your Linkedin. We want to know how you think, what you find fascinating, what you’ve read, watched, involved yourself in. So by all means, include those links.
Hopefully, you’ve done the same with us. You know what kind of work we do, why we do it, who we do it for. That you idolize our idols goes a long way (that we’re you’re idols makes us think you’ve set your sights too low).
And while we have lots of great advice on our site on getting a job- you can find more good insight here:
And note, these are tops in our Google search- and they are from 2012 as well.
We concur that you should have read “Hey Whipple, Squeeze This” by Luke Sullivan, because, well, he’s a friend, a client, and we host his site. Our CCO is in the index of the fifth edition with two mentions. We also have our “booklist” with our top reading suggestions, in addition to the trade mags and sites.
One last hint, while you may have caught a typo in our not so carefully written response to your lame attempt to work here, criticizing us for mentioning people like Alex Bogusky or Dan Weiden on our site might have a little more effect if it wasn’t for the fact that we actually know these people.
“Hey Whipple, Squeeze This” should be required reading for everyone in advertising. We make everyone at The Next Wave read it. Of course, the fact that our Chief Creative Officer helped review and contribute to the chapter on digital in the 5th edition means it’s going to be on the reading list.
Luke Sullivan is one of superstars of Advertising who has won virtually every award there is in advertising. He now teaches at the prestigious Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) after working at agencies like Fallon (Where he mentored another one of our favorite people and former client Sally Hogshead), Martin, GSD&M. He’s featured in the book “The Copy Book”How 32 of the World’s Best Advertising Writers Write Their Advertising. He travels the world, getting paid big bucks to speak about how great advertising is done.
And, yes, we’re his go to guys when it comes to building a WordPress theme, organizing his content for optimal organic search, and teaching him how to do this Internet thing right (the professor is getting a C+ so far).
Yes, WordPress is powering about 25% of the world wide web these days, but, not everybody truly understands how to make it work for you. We’ve been teaching our www.websitetology.com seminar since Nov 3 2005 (we know because we have slides in the prezo still that were screen shots from the night before). It’s not enough to just have content online- it’s how you put it up, organize it, tag it, and make it useful to readers and therefore to Google. Websites also aren’t brochures, which is hard for some old school ad guys to wrap their heads around.
If you build your site correctly, it becomes a corporate information dashboard- where you can find out exactly what people are saying about you, how they found you, what they expect of you and even, why you are better than your competition.
If you are interested in how we do it, first read the book “Hey Whipple” then call us, the guys Hey Whipple used to craft his site.
As I sit at home, writing this post (too many interruptions at the office) I realize that when clients are choosing an ad agency, many have no clue on what they are really choosing. In most cases, the overworked and under-recognized copywriters aren’t given a whole lot of thought. One of the first questions for the creative director/CEO/President/Chief Creative officer is to find out where they started in the agency business? The answers should tell you a lot about the agency- if it’s a former copywriter or art director the agency focus will probably be on great creative, if it’s an account planner- strategy may be their lead strength, if it’s a finance person- run, and if it’s a account executive/bag man/sales professional- I’m sure the presentation will be charming.
When it comes to the giants of advertising- and the guy you would want running your ad agency, David Ogilvy belongs on the top of the list. Even though the book is dated, I required all employees to read “Ogilvy on Advertising” for the first 20 years of The Next Wave. I still recommend it- but instead want them to read the excellent “Hey Whipple, Squeze this” by my friend Luke Sullivan first. Ogilvy was a brilliant writer and a consummate ad guy. He understood that you had to eat, sleep and breathe your product in order to do it justice. One of the requirements for working at Crispin Porter + Bogusky according to their employee handbook is that you are an ad person. Ad people are tuned into everything about the business- what accounts are where- and who is doing great work. If you aren’t an ad person you have a job- if you are one- you have a career.
When I stumbled upon this letter from David Ogilvy I knew things hadn’t changed much in the world of advertising. Great ads comes from people who immerse themselves in the work. It may be your most important indicator of what kind of agency you are about to hire:
On March 22nd you wrote to me asking for some notes on my work habits as a copywriter. They are appalling, as you are about to see:
I have never written an advertisement in the office. Too many interruptions. I do all my writing at home.
I spend a long time studying the precedents. I look at every advertisement which has appeared for competing products during the past 20 years.
I am helpless without research material—and the more “motivational” the better.
I write out a definition of the problem and a statement of the purpose which I wish the campaign to achieve. Then I go no further until the statement and its principles have been accepted by the client.
Before actually writing the copy, I write down ever conceivable fact and selling idea. Then I get them organized and relate them to research and the copy platform.
Then I write the headline. As a matter of fact I try to write 20 alternative headlines for every advertisement. And I never select the final headline without asking the opinion of other people in the agency. In some cases I seek the help of the research department and get them to do a split-run on a battery of headlines.
At this point I can no longer postpone the actual copy. So I go home and sit down at my desk. I find myself entirely without ideas. I get bad-tempered. If my wife comes into the room I growl at her. This has gotten worse since I gave up smoking.
I am terrified of producing a lousy advertisement. This causes me to throw away the first 20 attempts.
If all else fails, I drink half a bottle of rum and play a Handel oratorio on the gramophone. This generally produces an uncontrollable gush of copy.
The next morning I get up early and edit the gush.
Then I take the train to New York and my secretary types a draft. I cannot type, which is very inconvenient.
I am a lousy copywriter, but I am a good editor. So I go to work editing my own draft. After four or five editings, it looks good enough to show to the client. If the client changes the copy, I get angry—because I took a lot of trouble writing it, and what I wrote I wrote on purpose.
Altogether it is a slow and laborious business. I understand that some copywriters have much greater facility.
The humility of Ogilvy’s letter is quaint. I’ve met other great copywriters and they’ve run the gamut in personality traits, but generally everyone of them is fascinating and perfectly capable of doing many different things. However, I’d beware of those who are really frustrated authors- because if you are writing ads to pay the freight while working on the “great American novel” you probably aren’t really an ad person.
The other key is to write daily. The day you run out of ideas is the day you die if you are a real copywriter. Blogs make it much easier than it was in David Ogilvy’s day to test your writing chops and get feedback. Real copywriters can’t stop writing- which may explain why I’m sitting at home, writing this post on a Saturday afternoon.
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