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Dale Justice, Chief Operations Officer
August 02 2016

Can Old Ideas Become New Again?

Recently, O’Keeffe relocated to newer, shared office space in Over-the-Rhine. In a word, our new space is way cool. That’s two words, but you get it. The space is an open-floorplan renovation of a turn of the century weigh station serving the canal freight traffic that once sailed what is now Central Parkway. The giant scales are still here. Like I said, way cool.

The first week in new space shared with another creative group, we all gathered for lunch in the central meeting area to introduce ourselves, and get to know each other. The other folks are a creative group comprised entirely of very talented and successful Millenials. I’m thrilled to be among so much energy.

While I am not a shy person, I found myself conversing with professionals young enough to be my grandchildren, as we all shared our backgrounds, schools attended, degrees, and experiences. Yes, it’s still Cincinnati, and high schools were mentioned before universities.

Needless to say, my curriculum vitae is significantly longer than theirs simply because I have been doing this 40 years longer than they have. I was quite surprised that, to a person, they all showed a great deal of interest in my agency experience, and asked very interesting and probing questions. As lunch came to a close, a young lady said, “Wow. I wish you had been here when we first started the company. We were all fresh out of college, and didn’t know how to do anything or how the business world works.”

What an amazing statement. Consider its implications. What is the balance between the way things were done in the good old days, versus today’s digitally connected world? Are the principles of marketing communications somehow different today than yesteryear? Is the late David Olgilvy, hailed as the Father of Advertising, and his seminal work that became the textbook on the fundamentals of good communication still valid today?

The short answer, yes, now more than ever. The only difference is that we have more channels available than ever before to communicate with our audience. As content marketers, we can learn a lot from the legendary Mr. Ogilvy, whom I had the pleasure to meet in person in 1972. Here are a few of his guiding principles:

He was one of the pioneers of information-rich, what he called “soft sell” that didn’t insult the intelligence of the prospect.

Ogilvy believed cleverness doesn’t sell products and services. Original thinking in marketing is great, but not just for the sake of being witty or clever. If you aren’t thinking about connecting with your audience, building trust and selling your products or services when you sit down to create content, you need to reexamine your motivations. Don’t just create content to get credit for being clever — create content that will be helpful, insightful, interesting and connects with your target audience.

Learn the language of your audience, and write in their vernacular.
It is vitally important to research and understand how your audience thinks, speaks, and searches, so that we can use that language in our headlines, blog posts, sales letters, and e-books. The better we understand how our readers think, the better we’ll be able to connect with them.

Anyone who is a fan of the TV series, Mad Men, can conjure a mental picture of what the ad business looked like in the late 60’s and 70’s. I’m here to tell you Mad Men is accurate in their depiction of the social interactions of that era.

The principles of modern marketing communications were also created during that time, and remain the same today. Great marketing is a direct communication between your brand, and your customer. You will learn what your customer is looking for in your product or service, what makes an emotional connection and what doesn’t, and the language that will resonate with that customer if you take the time to listen. We simply distribute these messages through exciting, new digital channels.

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