The Death of a Dream

I think it’s time to be honest with myself: I’m probably not going to be a copywriter any time soon, and that’s okay. I’ve had this goal for years, and I haven’t really made any tangible progress, so I’m starting to think I should shift my focus elsewhere.

It’s hard, accepting that you might never achieve something you’ve worked so hard for, but I think it’s a good lesson in life. You can’t always get what you want. Usually, I find a way to make things work out, but I’m getting older, so I’ve got to start thinking about things differently.

I’m never going to stop writing campaigns. They might not be the best, they might actually be awful, but as long as I enjoy writing them, I don’t see myself stopping completely. It’s turned into more of a hobby, albeit a weird one.

I think this is part of growing up: realizing that your dreams might not be attainable. That doesn’t mean you’re a failure, or you’ve wasted your time, it just means that you’ve put as much effort into your dream as you could, and realized when it was time to switch to something else. Hopefully I find something that I enjoy enough to invest a large chunk of my life in.

How To Get A Job In Marketing

Getting a job is tough. You spend so much time making sure your resume is polished and your LinkedIn profile is set up, only to have all that work ignored. I’m dealing with that part myself right now, so I figured I’d try and help people who are in a similar situation.

Take Advantage of Networking Opportunities

If you live in a well-populated area, or even close to one, look out for job fairs. These are good places to make connections, and put a face to your name. Try not to be too eager, but be persistant, and make sure you bring multiple copies of your resume to hand out.

If you’re just looking for something short-term and flexible, try your local temp agency, they rely on getting people jobs quickly, so if you’re in a pinch, and can make an appointment with a temp agency, do it. Even if you’re looking for something more permanent, temp agencies can help you, some jobs are temp-to permanent, so if you do well, you could find yourself in a decent position.

If you’ve got some decent sales abilities, you can try looking up companies you want to work for, and send them an email. Usually, this doesn’t work, but I’ve heard a few success stories, so you never know. Try writing your email like you would a sales letter or any other piece of copy, except think of yourself as the product. Highlight your abilities and ways you can benefit the company, while not sounding like a robot.

If you’ve got an entrepreneurial attitude, and some confidence in your abilities, you can try freelancing on sites like Upwork and Fivver. These sites have entry-level work that you can do from your home. Some posters offer low pay for unreasonable amounts of work, so make sure you clearly understand what your client expects of you before you accept the offer.

Non-profits are always looking for help and, contrary to their name, some of them pay pretty well. If you see a non-profit that supports a cause you care about, reach out to them and see if you can help them. It might only be a small project, but you’ll get your foot in the door, gain some work experience, and support a good cause all at once.

Use Social Media

Social media has changed the way we do things, from how we share videos, to how we communicate with each other. This makes it a perfect place to look for advice, networking, and eventually, a job.

A lesser-known place to network is Reddit, a collection of message boards based on a common interest. The r/marketing and r/advertising boards are filled with people in the industry, and are usually happy to guide students and graduates, and job postings are made once a month, so you can expand your search.

Facebook can help you get a job too. Besides being a place where uneducated morons vomit out their opinions. Facebook is home to tons of different groups, and those groups can be very helpful in finding a job, learning more about a certain niche, or even just networking with people. I’m part of a couple copywriting groups, solely to have my copy torn apart and improved by random strangers on the Internet, and it’s helped me immensely.

LinkedIn is an incredibly useful tool that I had written off for a very long time, but now that I’ve graduated and really need to find a decent job, I’m starting to realize how important it is. LinkedIn is social media for your career, so don’t put anything stupid up there, pick a profile picture that makes you look professional and hireable, dress to impress, and for God’s sake, smile. After you apply to a company, check out their LinkedIn page, and follow them. This lets them know you’re serious about working with them, and is a nice look into the type of content they share and the feedback it gets. You can also add your friends and acquaintances to your network, you never know who might know who, so it’s good to cast as wide of a net as you can.

Assorted Helpful Tips

Now, there are a few more things you can do to spice up your resume, and show you’ve got what it takes. There are also some sketchy companies put there looking to prey on your desperation and inexperience, so I’ll tell you a little about how to avoid getting taken advantage of.

First thing’s first, if you’re reading this post, you more than likely have your own blog. That right there is your first resume builder. Take your blog, and apply your knowledge to it and make it grow. The longer you do it, and the more traffic you get, the more value you’ll show to potential employers. You can also use your blog as a testing platform and see which types of content work, and which to avoid.

If your job doesnt have a dedicated marketing role, take some initiative and write up an outline of what you would do, and take it to your boss. They might see some potential in you, and it’ll quickly add work to your resume.

If you’re not sure if you know enough to be successful at your first “real” job, you can alway learn more by getting certifications from Hubspot and Google. These can be useful, and it’s another thing to add to your resume. The ones I recommend are Hubspot’s Content Marketing, Inbound and Outbound Marketing, and GoogleAds. These should prepare you for what you’ll most likely be dealing with.

There are a lot of misleading job postings filed under “marketing”, so make sure to always research the company before you apply, and if you see a posting that doesn’t look right, check Glassdoor and see what employees say about the company. Most of these companies use phrases like “residential marketing” or “field marketing” or “in-home marketing”. Don’t be fooled: they’re usually door-to-door sales gigs that burn through people constantly. I recently fell for a well-disguised posting for an Advertising Account Coordinator that turned out to be a bogus sales job selling cut-rate phone plans. Always do your research.

Lastly, think outside the box and do some spec work for fun. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it should challenge you creatively. I started learning Premier Pro by making really terrible music videos using YouTube footage that I cut together. Whatever it is, make sure you find a way to enjoy it, and find a way to learn from it. I like to save my early attempts so I can see how far I’ve come.

So, that’s everything I know about finding a marketing job. I hope it helped someone start their career. Did I miss anything? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you.

Everyone’s Got a Little Pete Campbell in Them

I think Pete Campbell is in us all. He’s the guy who works extremely hard to prove himself. He’s the guy who tries too hard to be impressive. He’s the guy who has everything, but feels nothing. I watch Mad Men a ton, and every time I re-watch it, I pick up something new.

Pete has an inferiority complex, brought on by his family, his job, and the expectations of his time. When he first comes to Sterling Cooper, he’s a newly-married 26 year old with high expectations, and he thinks he’s got the world by the balls. He’s done everything that is expected of him, and expects to be given the world in return. In reality, he was only hired to provide the agency access to the blue-blooded clients they couldn’t get without his family name. Pete hears so many things about Don Draper, and when he finally meets him, he’s enamoured, like everyone is, by his talent and charm. Don Draper is everything Pete Campbell thinks he wants, without knowing the cost. Don is handsome, talented, good with women, rich, and “happily” married, all of the things Pete so desperately wants. The longer he knows Don, the more the facade fades away. By the 7th season, Pete is dealing with Don in the middle of a downward spiral of alcoholism, and while he still supports him, he is vocally upset with him. To me, this is the moment where Pete realizes he has made the wrong choices in life and wants to change.

“Ambitious men are never happy with what they have!” Pete’s wife Trudy is dead-on with this quote: Pete is the embodiment of ambition, and suffers greatly for it. By the end of the show, he has everything he thought he wanted: power, money, a beautiful girlfriend, the respect of his peers, but he still wasn’t happy. He realizes that he doesn’t want to be by himself forever, he wants his family back. Pete’s arc ends with him taking a position at Learjet in Wichita, far away from the temptations of New York. Before he leaves, Pete goes home to Trudy for one last sales pitch, the only one that truly matters: for them to be a family again.

I see a little bit of myself in Pete, and I’m sure you do too. I’ve always demanded more from myself, comparing myself to others without considering that they might not be happy where they are. I think this is natural, we put so much pressure on ourselves to be great, that when we’re not, it kills us inside. I also come from a decently-comfortable family, nothing like the Campbells, but enough that I feel the pressure to succeed and make something of myself without using their help.

Everyone wants to be Don when they start watching Mad Men, but the more they see his life unravel, the more the facade he builds fades away. The opposite is true with Pete: the more you see that he works so hard to be valuable and respected, the more you like him. Pete Campbell is one of the only happy endings in Mad Men, and the only one that isn’t temporary. You might have been a Pete when you were younger, you may be a Pete now, the important thing is to learn from his mistakes and grow from them.

5 Rappers Brands Could Learn From

5. Curren$y

Curren$y might not be a household name like the rest of the people on this list, but his strategy offers valuable insight. Curren$y is the prime example of why content is king, the man put out 3 albums this year, and it’s not even over yet. His content isn’t always perfect, but it has a consistent quality that makes up for the lack of steller content. Brands can learn that once you build a following, people will be hungry for as much as you can give them. So much so that they’ll overlook the fact that it isn’t awe-inspiring, just because you give them more than they could possibly need. So the key takeaway from Curren$y is this: just keep going, it doesn’t have to be perfect, it doesn’t have to be paradigm shifting, it just has to not suck.

4. Vince Staples

Vince Staples is “personal brand” embodied. He openly hates the rap status quo, making fun of rappers he thinks are below him, or acting fake. He is controversial, he’s abrasive, and isn’t afraid to call “bullshit”. This gathers attention, which can be translated to serve brands. Look at the Gillette ad. The fact that you know which one I mean means it worked. Controversy sells in post-Trump America. Your fans will support you, because they see an attack on something they like as an attack on themselves, and won’t hesitate to defend you ( to a point, don’t be EXACTLY like Trump) For example, Vince Staples said that the 90’s wasn’t when hip-hop was at it’s height, which is a correct statement, but people online flipped out. As a result, the number of people Googling “Vince Staples” skyrocketed. A percentage of those people then checked his music out, and liked what they heard. If your brand isn’t sticking out, you’re going to fade away. You need to shock the world into caring about your brand. Maybe criticize a commonly-known flaw in your product, or show some self-awareness in your social media, anything to set you apart from the crowded Twitter feeds and Facebook timelines.

3. Mac Miller

Mac Miller. I’m sure you’ve heard the name before. After his untimely death, rap news outlets jumped to cover the story, as well as anything Mac related. Don’t do this. There’s making the best out of a tragedy, and then there’s profiting off of people’s suffering and death. Mac had many lessons to teach us, he never let anyone else tell him what he should write about, he never cared what anyone else thought, he just focused on the music. He also networked like a motherfucker. Every rapper worth their mic has a song with Mac Miller, the variety of people he worked with speaks to his undeniable work ethic. You should reach out to your competitors and challenge them, it shows you care about your customers, and competition draws eyeballs, further helping your brand. Network with brands outside of your industry, make something that neither of your customers expect. They’ll be shocked, but if you do it correctly, they’ll see that you care about quality and collaboration. Early in Mac’s career, he recorded his life on tour, giving his fans an inside look into his day-to-day life. You can adopt this for your brand too. Film what you can, anything that gives your customers a sense of who you are behind the scenes, what you’re like behind the brand. People like to feel like they know you, like you matter to them. You never know what you’re customers might find interesting, so film as much as you can and let them decide what’s good.

2. Drake

Drake is popular for the same reasons pink guns are popular: he took something predominantly male, and found a way to make it appeal to girls. He took his brand of being a soft, emotional guy and applied to to rap. He also was one of the first artists to make an exclusivity deal with a streaming service. His deal with Apple Music was set up so thay they were the only place you could listen to Drake’s new album. This can be used by brands too. If you offer something that can’t be gained anywhere else, or if you can get them things no one else can, you’ll be successful. Additionally, Drake used internet memes as a sort of PR when it came out he didn’t write his own raps. He channeled that negativity and exposure, and rolled with it. He made a fool of himself before Meek Mill, the origin of the negativity, could use it against him. Brands can learn from that level of self-awareness.

1. Lil Nas X

Lil Nas X is the best marketer I’ve ever seen in hip-hop. I’ve been following him on Twitter since he was a lowly shitposter (a meme creator who purposely makes bad memes), but now is one of the most talked-about names in rap. His single “Old Town Road”, which you’ve definitely heard, is the longest-charting song ever, beating Mariah Carey and Michael Jackson by 3 weeks. He maintained that streak by inundating us with memes, Twitter posts, Tic-Toc videos, and by making the song itself into a meme. Lil Nas X understands social media better than any other rapper, he knows you can make something popular very quickly by using every facet of every channel available to push his content. The song itself is also a thing of beauty; catchy, memorable quotes, short enough to replay, with an addictive chorus that won’t get out of my head. Furthermore, when you see “Billy Ray Cyrus” featured, you’re surprised that the dad from Hannah Montana is on a rap song, and that makes you want to hear the song. You need to divert expectations from time to time, the last thing you want from a growing brand is predictability, you want the people waiting to see what you’re going to do next, and I sure as hell want to see where Lil Nas X goes next.

5 Reasons Why I Think Mad Men Was The Best Show Ever Made

5. It Revolutionized Television

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When Mad Men came out in 2007, there was nothing like it out there, and no one expected AMC to be the one to run it. Prior to Mad Men, AMC was best known for running old movies and TV shows, so the idea to run a TV show set in the 60’s doesn’t seem too left-field for them. The success of Mad Men lead to AMC green lighting terrific shows like Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead, (Seasons 1-3) which lead to more A-List actors doing TV. Mad Men was a cultural event. Every week, millions of people would tune in to see these characters go through the 60’s. If you were old enough to remember that time, you’d talk about the old days. If you weren’t, you’d get a chance to visualize it for an hour. This show connected people, it was the first real water-cooler show of the 2000’s.

4. There is Limitless Re-watchability

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I’ve watched Mad Men all the way through at least a dozen times, and I still pick up tiny new details each time I watch it. From the facial expressions from characters in the background and foreshadowed plot elements hidden in throwaway remarks, to how Don dresses over the decade, Mad Men rewarded re- watchers. The story itself is complex enough that you might understand certain events better after a re-watch, things you missed before become clearer, and foreshadowing is more obvious when you know what it leads up to.

3. It’s A Dazzling Period Piece

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From the leisure suits, to the classic cars, to the way they talked to each other, Mad Men serves as a time capsule of the 60’s-70’s. It’s supposed to be shocking the way they treat women and minorities, it’s supposed to be shocking when the Draper family leaves their picnic trash on the side of the highway. That’s how you know we’ve grown as a society. We need that, now more than ever. Our society has changed so much since 1960, that we need a reminder of why we needed to change, why that behavior isn’t acceptable anymore. On the other hand, how cool it is to see historical events effect characters we’ve grown to care about? That’s the thing about Mad Men, you go along for this ride with these characters, and see their morals and values shaken as time goes on, and by the time the show is over, the characters you’ve spent so much time with are completely changed for the better Except Harry Crane, fuck him.

2. Perfect Usage of Music

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One of my favorite moments in the entire show is when Don and Peggy dance to “My Way” after figuring out the strategy for Burger Chef. This is a crucial moment for Don and Peggy, and one of the few wholesome moments on the show. The moment comes after seasons of Don mistreating Peggy, not acknowledging her accomplishments or her personal growth, only to have the roles reversed, with Peggy on top. I love how the Don/Peggy dynamic is capped off by Don finally treating Peggy as an equal after all the hard work and sacrifice it took to get there. Music is used sparingly on Mad Men, and that was makes these moments so special, as shown by the usually strait-laced Pete Campbell smoking a joint and checking out girls in the creative lounge as Janis Joplin’s “Piece of my Heart” plays. Another cool thing about the music of Mad Men is that all of the episodes end in period-accurate songs, not just the popular ones everyone knows either, there are some obscure 50’s hits in there too, which helps paint a nostalgic picture of the 1950’s.

1. The Character Growth

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This is it. This is the key factor that made Mad Men must-see TV. As you follow Don Draper over the course of his life, you see subtle, as well as not-so-subtle, aspects of his character grow and decay. The prime example is his alcohol abuse. Don Draper, like many of the employees at SCDP, has the liver of a stereotypical Irish bartender. His drinking starts off slow, but steady, and as the seasons, and the stresses of life go on, you see Don pouring more and more whiskey down his throat, to the point where he breaks down and cries at a Hershey pitch meeting, effectively ruining his career. Don isn’t the only character who blossoms though, the women of Mad Men are more interesting then the men most times. Let’s look at Peggy and Joan, they both have a similar goal: to be taken seriously. Joan struggles with being looked at as a piece of meat, and not as a capable, intelligent woman, and is frustrated when men ignore that. Peggy has the same issues, but is treated differently after she displays talent and drive. Both of these women are treated as second-class citizens in an era that is rapidly changing and growing. There were 7 seasons of Mad Men, so you get to follow these characters through so many important events, and see why they do the things they do, and that was refreshing to see. I really hope they have a reunion someday and give us another look into the lives of the employees of SCDP, as well as all the secondary characters, just to see where they went and what they did with their lives after the finale. That’s how good this show is. Watch it.

My Love-Letter to Advertising

Like it or not, advertising is essential to our society. Without it, our lives would be very different. Without all of the money advertising brings in, we would have to drastically change how we do business. Facebook: runs on advertising. Snapchat: also runs on advertising. Anything online that’s free: advertising. It isn’t always a bad thing. PR moves, like Morgan Stanley donating to charities every quarter, are a form of advertising that helps people, even though Morgan Stanley gets a nice tax deduction from it.

When I was 10 years old, I saw a countdown of the best Super Bowl ads of all time. The first one that I saw was the Mean Joe Green Pepsi spot. Immediatly I felt like I was that kid, and that did something to me. The older I got, the more marketing started to interest me, and now here we are. I love advertising because 1) I like a decent amount of the design and creativity that goes into the good ones 2) I’m fascinated by the ones that work and 3) It’s what I’ve wanted to do for a living for years. Clever ads, the ones that make you think, the ones that make you feel something, those are the ones that make advertising worth while for me. Any asshole who got an A in English can write a shitty ad, but to make something truly great, you have to leave your head, and get into the mind of the customer. I always thought that was so cool: to learn about how other people live and the things that would make their lives better so I can make them things they want to watch, so they can buy things that could help. Now that’s an idealistic way of thinking, I know, but I want to make that a reality.

I’ve always considered myself a decent writer, but the more I write, the more I look back on the work I’ve done and think “What the fuck is this? What was the strategy here? Why would the target demo even look at this?” Maybe that’s growth, maybe it’s just looking at my work with a fresh set of eyes, maybe I do suck. I’m sure I’ll look at all of the articles and scripts I’ve written, the print ads I’ve made, and even some of the display ads, and think they’re all terrible. The point here is this: advertising, if done right, has the potential to help people, to make them feel differently, even if for a second or two. That’s powerful to me. That’s why I love advertising. That’s why I’ve always wanted to be a copywriter.

I’ve always had this fantasy of what my life in advertising would be like; working long hours on projects that challenge me creatively, working with other like-minded people my age who like to work hard and play harder, having to suck it up and deal with clients who are stuck in their ways in order to make things that stick out. I’d stumble into work at 9, pour myself a cup of coffee that I don’t have to pay for, and spend the next 4 or 5 hours writing, then going to meetings to brainstorm potential ideas for campaigns. I’ve never worked in advertising, but thinking about what it would be like is a lot more appealing than my shitty minimum wage job slinging coffee and bad food (which really could be done by a vending machine and an oven)

I’m not trying to convince anyone that advertising is an ethical, morally-conscious profession. I’m just trying to show people another way of thinking, one that might open their minds a little. I’m also hoping that if any Creative Directors see this blog, they’ll think of me next time there’s a copywriting position open.