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Dad’s old school marketing maxims for today

dad's marketing maxims

What dad taught me about social media and content marketing.

Maybe father knows best after all.

Growing up, I heard plenty of advice, stories and platitudes designed to guide me into responsible adulthood.

Some of it stuck. Especially dad’s advice on marketing fundamentals.

In 1971 dad started a marketing agency. I was 10 years old then and didn’t really know what that was. I figured it had something to do with advertising.

In the early days, I would wake up in the morning and find dad sitting in his recliner writing feverishly on a yellow legal pad. The smell of stale coffee and cigarettes told me he had already been working for several hours.

Fast forward to 1981. The summer of my freshman year in college we were coming out of a recession and I had a broken ankle. My summer job prospects were dim. Dad gave me an internship doing design work and emptying waste baskets.

That was my first exposure to the world of marketing. I learned those yellow page scribblings were marketing proposals, marketing plans and copy. I got to experience photo shoots and press checks. I watched him turn ideas into finished direct marketing campaigns.

Related: To pierce the digital clutter, deliver the unexpected

I joined dad’s firm in 1989 after a 4-year stint in corporate America. That’s when I was fed a steady diet of dad’s marketing maxims that served me well in the two decades that followed.

Here are three that still apply to our digital world today:

“Nothing happens until a sale is made”

This one serves as a reminder that results are more important than the creative work or winning awards. The direct marketing discipline of tracking response rates and sales metrics are the lifeblood of online marketing.

It is also a guiding principle for creating a productive working relationship between marketing and sales. The marketer must focus on lead generation and sales enablement that will make the sales team succeed, because nothing happens until a sale is made.

content marketing maxims

Dad, 1985

“Your customer is your best prospect”

We specialized in creating relationship marketing programs that built customer loyalty and were designed to generate referrals, cross-selling and up-selling opportunities. The programs optimized direct mail as the channel to engage customers and facilitate conversations with sales reps.

Related: CRM woos social media. Will the engagement last?

Today social media gives us a channel for making these kinds of connections which dad could not have imagined. But the idea is as true today as ever.

“The old is forever new”

I think of this a lot when I hear people talking about content marketing and brand journalism. Dad is particularly intrigued by this and rightfully proud of our early work in this area before digital media.

Related: The accidental brand journalist

He was at the forefront of direct marketers to develop continuity programs where B2B clients published industry newsletters that used a journalistic reporting and writing style to tell brand stories. There were no blogs, but the content approach was the same used by brand journalists today.

Related: The case for getting a journalist on your content marketing team

Dad has been retired for quite a few years now. When I talk about Twitter or blogging or social media, it is hard for him to comprehend how much the landscape has changed. But some of the maxims he taught me haven’t changed at all.

What marketing maxims would you add to dad’s list?

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  1. June 14, 2013 at 8:37 am | #1

    A great article and a very nice tribute to your dad for Father’s Day! Funny how much marketing has changed since 1971 – but the fundamentals stay the same.

    • June 14, 2013 at 8:58 am | #2

      Thanks Jennifer. They are the lessons that keep on giving. I appreciate you taking time to stop by and comment!

  2. July 5, 2013 at 10:38 am | #3

    Your father was a very wise man and his sage advice is timeless. Considering all the changes made since 1971, I will add that snail mail matters. Everyone is completely focused on digital marketing, which is essential. But nothing is more relevant than a customer holding a piece of mail in their hands. It can’t be tucked away in a spam mail folder never to be seen again. You have a few seconds to grab their attention.

  1. August 27, 2013 at 1:55 pm | #1

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