050: The Water Nerd’s Guide to Advertising

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Ryan Romero believes good advertising creative begets good business and happy clients – something he learned working for agencies including Tribal DDB and Publics on clients such as Pepsi, Dyson, Microsoft, and T-Mobile. In his professional career, he has transitioned from the role of a traditional copywriter to that of a digital ACD, and from his native Texas to Washington, and back again. He has earned international awards, launched entirely new mobile phone platforms, created innovative applications, and even sold lunch buffets to seniors, but found freedom in teaching the creative process to students since joining the faculty in 2011. Besides lecturing at the University of Texas, Ryan is a freelance writer and creative director, co-founder of Big Machine in the Sky, Ducati rider, tattoo canvas, and a pretend grown up. 

Top Takeaways

  1. [11:54] Your brand better be about representing your audience. If it’s all about you it’s like being on a blind date with some who only talks about themselves. 
  2. [26:01] The biggest mistake most organizations make is thinking all we have to do is tell them we exist because what we do is awesome and they just fall in love with their own brand. We have to tell that story in a way that other people will get excited about.
  3. [51:19] Just because there’s nothing new under the sun, doesn’t mean there aren’t new connections to be made. [53:28] Creativity is effective surprise. Collect a lot of dots (experiences and ideas) and save them because you never know how things will connect later. 
  4. [01:03:07] Mr. Rogers: There is no one who you cannot learn to love, once you’ve heard their story. A lesson in empathy when creating our message and working with each other to deliver it.

Shownotes

Branding: [9:34]

  • [9:54] Who is the character, or archetype, that exists in the world that your target audience would either listen to, want to be friends with, and respect? 
  • [11:54] Your brand better be about representing your audience. If it’s all about you it’s like being on a blind date with someone who only talks about themselves. 
  • [13:11] Branding is all about dating. It’s about falling in love with that brand and finding an emotional connection.
  • [16:56] You have to start the creative process from the place of nobody cares to everyone hates you. You have to start from a place of deficit. I have to say something totally riveting and interesting to get these people on board, immediately. 

Audience:[17:45] 

  • [18:55] More than just demographics. Psychographics are far more useful. Imagine the characteristics you would use when describing the person you’re trying to set your friend up with.
  • [20:51] Audience with water: what’s the common thread between these different groups of water users? Working class? 

Writing:

  • [24:22] B2B folks sometimes forget they’re still talking to human beings. Know what content serves what purpose. White papers will help decision makers make better decisions but how do you get them to read the white papers?
  • [26:01] The biggest mistake most organization’s make is thinking all we have to do is tell them we exist because what we do is awesome and they just fall in love with their own brand. We have to tell that story in a way that other people will get excited about. 
  • [29:25] You can be serious and human. 
  • [30:19] Doing more creative brainstorming. When is it time to change the formula? Ask why? If you ask why five times you can usually get to the heart of an issue so you can solve the actual problem. 

Tips for working with a creative agency: [35:52] Trust the people you hired. Trust the process. Good creative takes time. 

  • [38:40] The misconception of, “I write all day.” There is a skill. There is training required to put yourself in someone else’s mind–to be able to step outside of your own head and say “Is this interesting?”
  • [42:27] Good creative takes time. Don Draper from Mad Men isn’t real life.
  • [46:45] Marinating on an idea is part of the creative process. There is a frustration phase where the logical mind gives up and subconscious mind kicks in and makes a creative connection that works. It silences the internal critic.

[51:19] Just because there’s nothing new under the sun, doesn’t mean there aren’t new connections to be made. [53:28] Creativity is effective surprise. Collect a lot of dots (experiences and ideas) and save them because you never know how things will connect later. 

[01:03:07] Mr. Rogers: There is no one who you cannot learn to love, once you’ve heard their story. A lesson in empathy when creating our message and working with each other to deliver it.

Resource:

Book: Hey Whipple, Squeeze This by Luke Sullivan. The classic guide to creating great advertising. 

Sponsor:

WaterNow Alliance believes that local leaders hold the keys to our future. WNA is a nonprofit network of over 400 councilmembers, mayors, water district board members, and utility management nationwide that champion sustainable, affordable, and community-based solutions to water management challenges. They are a catalyst for change and an architect for solutions. WNA helps to identify and overcome barriers, provide tools, training, project and policy support, and shares best management practices for local initiatives advancing community resilience. WNA is a forum for collaborative action through convenings and annual summits, and a network for local leaders to learn from each other.

Join this unique network of local decision makers leading the way to a healthy and resilient water future for their communities. Membership is free and open to the decision makers who vote on all things water from policy to programs to rates and who are ultimately accountable to the public. Visit waternow.org/join or email info@waternow.org


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