The Perfect Rule for Success in Advertising

12 Jul

someone talking endlessly about herself

If you read to the end of this blog post, you will know a secret to succeeding in the advertising business. It is not the only secret of course.

Acting according to it will pretty much guarantee success (assuming you have any talent for this business in the first place.) The more you adhere to it, the more successful you will become, whether that means getting a job in the business, going from one company to another, or creating advertising that motivates people to act.

It is the Perfect Rule for Success in Advertising.

The expression of this mindset – and it is a mindet – will create rewarding outcomes.

The first half goes like this:


A comedian can’t stand in front of a crowd and tell them he’s funny. He has to tell a joke and let them come to their own conclusions.

So it goes with advertising, a business about persuasive selling.

Yet life brings daily reminders that when there’s a big stake in the outcome, people will amp up the self-promotion. We just can’t seem to help ourselves. Hard sell takes the place of smart sell.

The second half you’ll have guessed by now:


Convince your audience by using persuasive selling.

Advertising is about providing the stimulus that will lead to the desired response. Whether you are advertising yourself for a job (our Zombie intern contestants, for example) or selling a Dyson vacuum cleaner (man, did they get that right), demonstrate your value rather than telling your audience about it. Let them come to their own conclusions.

People will believe their own conclusions better than yours.

That’s it. Now go be wildly successful.

(Illustration by Heloisa Kinder)


8 Responses to “The Perfect Rule for Success in Advertising”

  1. Murray Kirk July 12, 2011 at 8:13 am #

    A fantastically true story!

    As always, thought provoking stuff…thank you for sharing it.

  2. Doug Brown July 12, 2011 at 8:30 am #

    Thanks a lot Murray. I guess it’s a rule that applies to a lot of things beyond advertising. Your business as well for example…

  3. David L July 12, 2011 at 8:44 am #


  4. Doug Brown July 12, 2011 at 8:47 am #

    That’s exactly right David. Provide the stimulus that will lead inexorably to that conclusion.

  5. Manu July 12, 2011 at 10:14 am #

    Well said, Doug. It’s surprising how often we tend to ignore the fundamentals. Thank you for reminding us.

  6. Doug Brown July 12, 2011 at 10:40 am #

    Good to hear from you Manu. I don’t think we do a very good job as as an industry of teaching the fundamentals. I mean, how did you learn? Trial and error, and exposure, right? Hope things are a groove in Vangroovy.

  7. Manu July 12, 2011 at 10:46 am #

    Well don’t you think someone took on this mantle then? Hint, hint. Yes, Vancouver’s great – everyone’s waiting for summer to arrive except for yours truly, who as you know has had his fair share of sweltering summers.

  8. M Knox July 12, 2011 at 9:07 pm #

    Ah, I know it well.

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