December 09, 2015

Study The Geniuses, Ignore The Experts

There are two kinds of famous people inside the advertising business -- geniuses and experts.

The geniuses have done remarkable things. They have a body of stunning work.

The experts talk about doing remarkable things. They write books, and blogs, and make speeches (doh!)

The geniuses have talent. The experts are merely clever. 

My advice to you, if you want to be really good, is to study the geniuses. This is not always easy. The thoughts of the geniuses aren't usually as accessible or as easily understood as the chattering of the experts.

If you want to understand how the geniuses do what they do you're going to have to work it out for yourself. You're going to have to find their work and study it.

My second piece of advice is to ignore the experts. Many advertising "experts" have never even worked in an agency, created anything exceptional, or built a brand. All they have is a book, a Powerpoint presentation, and an agent.

There are remarkably few people in the advertising business who deeply understand how advertising works. Most of us think in the trite, logical vocabulary of marketing -- "engagement" and "branding" and "value propositions." The geniuses don't think this way at all. They think in silly, unpopular terms like charm and sympathy.

Studying the geniuses is not going to make you a genius. But it will make you better. Listening to the experts will not make you better. It will only make you trendier.

Our experts are usually functionaries who may be competent in an aspect of the advertising business, but aren't usually insightful in a comprehensive way.

The geniuses understand how advertising works in a profound way that transcends the rules and the protocols of the experts.

Making exceptional advertising is a lot harder than it looks. The experts know how to talk about it. The geniuses know how to do it.

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