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.

How To Sell To Millennials

Ok, first thing’s first: some of you think “millennials” are just people who are younger than you. That’s wrong. Millennials are people who were born between the years of 1981 and 1996, so many of the people who blame millennials for their problems are actually millennials themselves. That being said, you need to learn how to deal with us, and I’ve got some tips.

Focus on Quality

This is a big one, there are so many companies pushing half-made crap on us, that in order to make any distinction between your company and the next, you have to actually be better than them. If you make your product as good as it can be, or you make dealing with your company smooth and uneventful, millennials will remember that, and you will be their first choice every time. If you can somehow make quality goods/ do quality work every time, you will see immediate results. Look at Dunkin, they were known for watery coffee and rude service, but now they have noticed that more millennials go to Starbucks because the coffee is better, and they won’t have to deal with angry customers messing up their day. Dunkin saw this, and realized they needed to do better, so now they are improving the quality of their food & beverages, and focusing on customer service. Be more like Dunkin.

Be Genuine

Millennials are constantly plugged into the internet, a vast majority spend hours a day on it, so when your company eventually does something ill-advised, steer into the skid. If you try and hide behind PR stunts and prepared apologies, millennials will tear you to shreds on social media, blogs, and maybe even real life. We care about genuine apologies, so if you plan on giving one, don’t write it with a lawyer present to save you from litigation, don’t pass it off to an intern, write it yourself. Case in point: BP. That apology is so well known, and such bullshit, that South Park parodied it. Do you want your company to be remembered as “the one with the bad apology no one believed”? I don’t think so.

Embrace Memes, But Don’t Make Them Yourself

Memes are widely-known internet jokes, usually in the form of pictures with text. These images are spread rapidly across the internet, and after a certain amount of time, retired. This is the mistake I see too many brands make: they overestimate the life of a meme and try to milk it past its expiration date. This makes them look out-of-touch, old, and uninformed. Don’t do that. My advice: find memes others have made about your brand and repost them, and give the creators credit. This makes your customers feel connected to your brand, and that you’re conscious of their needs.

Make Them Feel Connected

This is the million-dollar question: how do you make someone feel something? If your customers get something from using your product or service, they will keep using it. For example, if your company donates to a charity they’re passionate about, they will be more likely to support you. Other things you could do are 1) post pictures of things that make you laugh on your social media. This will humanize your company, and will hopefully make customers laugh too, which keeps them coming back. 2) Do your best to reward the loyalty of your customers, make a rewards program for your store or product; that way they keep coming back to get the reward, and feel good that they got something for their loyalty. 3) Make sure to treat your employees properly. If word gets out that your employees love going to work, and they love what they do, not only will more millennials try your product, your quality of life will go up due to high employer morale. Have Employee Appreciation Days where you bring in food and drinks, take some pictures or video, and post it on your social media and blog accounts. If your company is viewed as a fun place to work, and there is video evidence that doesn’t look staged, you will find millennials taking notice.

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.

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.