How to Become a Wizard

I am just finishing up a book for the second time, so I thought I would share some of that with you. I am not big on reading books twice because I have so many I want to getwizard of ads cover to for the first time, but every now and then somebody will write something worthy of two reads. So here we are.

This book is called The Wizard of Ads and it is written by Roy Williams. Roy has spent over 25 years asking the question, “What makes people do the things they do?” He has written several books, but The Wizard of Ads won Business Book of the Year a few years ago, and for good reason. In the foreword by Ray Bard, the publisher, they sum up the book very well: “These are timeless truths that reach beyond advertising and good business…they are profound principles that work in life, and they embody the ideals that have made America great.” Here are a few of my favorite thoughts from the book: 

  1. “The person that can capture and hold attention is the person who can effectively influence human behavior.” Just for a second consider attending an industry conference. It irritates me to no end when somebody jumps on stage to deliver an hour-long message and they completely suck at it. I am not saying that they need to be professional speakers, but for heaven’s sake, at least act like you practiced it more than once in the hotel room before wasting our time! How about the company that they represent? Doesn’t anyone care that the person representing them on that stage does a terrible job connecting with the live audience?  Don’t miss your chance to make big impact. Capturing and holding attention is a skill that needs to be developed and practiced and if you do, the rewards are great.
  2. “Creative thinking is today’s most prized profit-producing possession for any individual, corporation, or country. It has the capacity to change you, your business, and the world.” –Robert P. Crawford. Take any industry, I don’t care what it is, and I can guarantee you that there is something new to be done to make it better and more profitable. Find a really creative group to problem-solve around something and magic will happen, but it is up to you to capture it and execute it and make it work. Not so easy. The creative thinkers, the visionaries, are without a doubt the future of any company.
  3. When the truth is not enough, companies tend to stretch into deceitful language. We see this in the mattress industry all of the time, don’t we? Take temperature as the example here. One guy says mine sleeps cooler. The next guy says mine sleeps cooler and prevents headaches. The third guy has to top the first two so he comes out with something even bigger, so now we have a bed that sleeps cooler, prevents headaches, and can change the channel on your television as you change sleep positions. Okay, I made most of this up, but you get the point. The sad piece to this is that so many people abandoned good advertising because they think they have to keep up with the BS copywriters out there making stuff up to get impact. If you want your truth to make the lasting impression, it requires great skill – more than it would than simply saying it. “Truth we are told is truth we may not accept; the truth we have realized is the only truth we own.”
  4. There are only 24 hours in a day and our success is largely determined by how we use these hours. We all get the same clock – it’s just that some people are better at focusing on what is important vs. what is trivial. Never in the history of the world have we had so many gizmos, gadgets, or services available that were designed to save us time, and even then there is just not enough of it. How many hours in the week do you spend trying to figure out how to save time, or even better yet, how to save your customers time? Go get that creative group I mentioned in point three and have a go at some solutions. “Do you love life? Then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of.” –Benjamin Franklin

I am sitting in the airport in Austin, Texas, with our VP of Creative Services at Leggett & Platt, John Walsh, waiting for our buddy and business partner Mark Kinsley to arrive. The three of us are going to a three-day Wizard of Ads event where they are going to talk to us about the principles of the book and teach us more on how to think creatively and strategically in our business. Not sure what to expect here but if the live program is half as good as the book for provoking thought, I call it a win, so give it a read. Stay tuned for a full review of the program in a coming blog.

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