The Teachings of Sun Tzu, Part 2 - Martin Puris

Let’s assume that you’re somehow involved with your company’s marketing, Monday morning, 8:30 AM here’s your calendar entry: “Take a long, dispassionate look at my current advertising agency.” And/or, “Have a long talk with my marketing department.”

Let’s assume that after you’ve done your due diligence you’re pretty confident, what then? Take the whole marketing team out to lunch and tell them clearly where you’re going, what you intend to accomplish, and what your expectations are, and why. Stress that you’re all in it together.

Don’t make it a threat, make it clear that what you’re handing them is the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be involved in famous work, the best work they’ve ever done or had anything to do with. If they have the right stuff they’ll be thrilled and eager to begin.

The transition will not be smooth and will definitely require a bit of patience and some gentle prodding on your part. The work won’t lurch from small ideas to Big Ideas in a matter of weeks. You will have to use the words “That’s not a Big Idea, I’d like you to go back and try again,” frequently and gently, but unsparingly.

If you intend to be the Medici of The Great Advertising Renaissance, you’d be wise to master the art of becoming a thoughtful and capable editor rather than a mere bystander.

Why? Because for one thing, de facto, you already are the ultimate editor. You have the power of the purse and the power to say yes or no. And by becoming a more active part of the creative process — and learning how to do it well — you’ll be able to significantly improve the quality of the work and maximize your investment.

It is not about correcting spelling and punctuation. It’s the role Advertising Directors played so well during The Golden Age.

Unless you’re fortunate enough to live and work in a marketing dominant culture — nearly unheard of these days — you are bound to face legions of doubters, detractors, passive-aggressive, foot-draggers, and Wall Street-phobics.

Here’s a piece of advice that I wish I’d known when I was thirty-five years old: Persuasion is a process. Often a slow and frustrating process. Particularly if the persuadees are of the quarterly earnings uber allies school of management. Convincing the unconvincible will require the right story, the right supporting evidence, the right approach, the right attitude, the stealth of Machiavelli, and the persistence and patience of Gandhi.

But unless and until you succeed here, the Renaissance will remain a partially fulfilled aspiration.

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