Powills: There’s No Right and Wrong in Marketing
Powills: There’s No Right and Wrong in Marketing

I was sitting at the train stop, patiently awaiting my train to arrive.

At 6:30 a.m., there isn’t much more to do than stare, think and consume the surroundings. My eyes focused on an advertisement across the tracks. It was a beautiful piece of creative, but I couldn’t figure out what the ad was......

I was sitting at the train stop, patiently awaiting my train to arrive.

At 6:30 a.m., there isn’t much more to do than stare, think and consume the surroundings. My eyes focused on an advertisement across the tracks. It was a beautiful piece of creative, but I couldn’t figure out what the ad was.

Was it selling me face cream that would protect my wrinkles from forming? Was it an ad that suggested my hair would blow beautifully in the wind if I bought the car? Was it showing me that after drinking the perfect cup of coffee from their brewer that I would have all the energy in the world?

Probably “d”; none of the above.

And frankly, with no proper messaging, it didn’t matter anyway. It was a wasted ad spend failing to deliver a great message, again.

Clearly, being that I am in the business of communications, my thought process didn’t just track from admiration of creative,to being lost on messaging to continuing on with my day. I wondered how an ad like that came to fruition and why I didn’t have the chance to consult on a stronger message?

Well, there are a few reasons why I didn’t consult and help deliver a stronger message. Frankly, these are fundamentals of growing a business, too:

  1. The company doesn’t know my agency: Well, if they don’t know that we exist, how can we help?

  2. The company probably has a great relationship with their ad agency or creative person and didn’t think to go outbound. Why would they — it’s easier to work with who you know.

  3. The company’s creative person doesn’t understand the connection of silos. Maybe they don’t need to know them, because in marketing, it is all a matter of opinion.


In communications, far too often, companies place messages in singular buckets. It isn’t their fault; it’s really all they know. Marketing pieces are marketing pieces. PR activities are reactive. Social Media is a standalone. Advertising is purchased creative, nothing more. And digital — well, don’t let me get started on digital.

If companies that have ad dollars to spend would take a step backward and think about connecting the communications silos, they could land on a stronger message and a better ROI.

Take my train ad. Let’s say it was selling a car. What if that ad said something like, “Our car won’t change your appearance, but it will make you feel beautiful.” Great, there’s the message of beauty. But don’t stop there.

Then, on the ad it says, “Visit our Facebook Page to enter our Beautiful Cars, Beautiful People Contest,” in which people submit happy photos of them in their cars. And then, there is a PR campaign where car dealers let people drive a car for a day and the bumper sticker says “This Car Makes People Smile.” And then, there are marketing materials at the dealership with the messaging that connects people back to the Facebook page.

Now, all those dollars, messages and ROI opportunities are connected. And now, while I am sitting in the cold, blistery Chicago winter, awaiting my train, I am thinking about beautiful cars, beautiful people and how I would be smiling if I were driving that car to the office instead of taking the train.

However, even with that insight, it’s just my opinion. Just another marketing guy judging another marketing piece. They decided to run with the ad for a reason: because they thought it was the best use of their money. While I may disagree, I am not necessarily in the right.

In marketing, there truly is no right or wrong, just opinions.

The same can be true about business. Just because one expert says this is the way you manage people or the way you create a process, doesn’t mean that shoe will fit all sizes. Communications is a lot of guessing, a lot of sticking and a lot of praying for a significant ROI.

To achieve ROI, you must play the game. That creative person played the game and didn’t connect with me while I waited for train. Maybe that’s because I wasn’t wearing my glasses.

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