LESS Is MORE

what was I thinking?We all have times when we look back and moan, “what was I thinking?” I’m not talking about the petty times when we sign up for a half marathon or eat that second brownie.

I’m talking about a decision that tugs at our sense of values and, well, our sense of “self.”

Can you tell I’m procrastinating about revealing my marketing shame while delving into my new “writing career”?

When I was hired in the male-only echelons of a company selling space for billboards (or more politically correct, outdoor advertising), I was told I could also use my writing skills to create copy for those billboards. But my word skills were rarely used, since most of the “big money” billboards for beer and cigarettes came with their own copy from the product conglomerates. billboard, hardware store

But as I brought in more local business from Mom and Pop stores that wanted to send a short snappy message on that large outdoor space to claim:

Sew Yourself Something Special – Sally’s Sewing Shop, or

Hammer for Hire: Steve’s Hardware, I began to work on copy with the client.

short and snappyI discovered that writing copy for a large billboard is an excellent, yet difficult way to hone writing and editing skills.

My clients wanted two or three sentences extolling the virtues of their business.

I had to convince them that the less words on a Board,

the more visibility,

the more POP to attract interest,

and the better chance that a passing driver would actually read the words and stop at the shop.

less is moreIn other words, LESS IS MORE.

My efforts flourished so well that six months into my new job, the company hired another woman.

Young, attractive, and bright.

Her position? Marketing Copywriter.

I wanted that job, but I never had the chance to apply for it, since I didn’t even know it was available until it was filled. I tamped down my jealously and reveled in the fact that I had a compatriot in the male-dominated company. M and I worked together, writing some fun fast scripts for the candy depot and the dress shop and even for the funky music store 30 miles west of our “metropolis.”

But then, success got to our heads. Or at least into M’s head.

She got the great idea that for me to sell even more outdoor advertising, the company needed to sell…

ME

(Yes, the final mortifying marketing mashup is still to come….)

Do you want to guess how she used me to sell space?

57 thoughts on “LESS Is MORE

  1. Ok, I’ll take a shot at this….. “Hammer ME,” “let ME serve you,” “Let ME help you”…. All with your photo on the billboard as well. That would be pretty mortifying! Easty

  2. It’s funny, Pamela, the first thing I thought about when I read your story is that Twitter and its brevity may have been born out of the brevity of advertising in limited space.

    Incidentally, I’m all about alliteration – I love your use of it in your advertising copy writing and in your post – unless, of course, that’s a part of the mortifying marketing mashup to come 🙂

    Seriously though, this has been an engaging, educational, and enjoyable expedition. Thank you 🙂

    • Dave-I think you are absolutely correct. I think the way advertisers learned to use space on outdoor advertising was a precursor for Twitter users. Short and snappy..and smart. I really appreciate your comments!

  3. lovely post Pamela. I can’t imagine what happened to you. Life is more interesting than soap opera . I agree with above comment. Will be looking forward to read next post.

  4. I wouldn’t want to spoil a tantalizing cliffhanger by guessing.
    And for the record, I never feel guilty about the second brownie. Maybe the third, but never the second…:)

    • Of course part of the reason I’m so embarrassed by the ending of the story is that I am truly a feminist. And the end of the story goes against that grain. But part of living is learning our lessons.

  5. Since you mentioned in a previous post that you looked better than Jane Fonda, I’m guessing she put your photo on a billboard. If I’m right, I hope you have a picture of it.

  6. I liked this post and never thought a lot about sales nor slogans but you really had a flair for this position. You have a knack for writing, Pamela! Yes, author and marketing sometimes work out in the process. 🙂

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