Sam Romero


I don’t get it.

August 19th, 2008 by Sam Romero

“I don’t get it.”

If you work at a marketing department or an ad agency, you’ve been there. You’ve shown your boss, or your co-worker, or your client a proposed print ad or direct mail piece or headline or concept and gotten from them a blank stare and the comment “I don’t get it.”

Well here’s some good news: they don’t have to get it.

Really, they don’t. If your boss or your client doesn’t get the message you are sending in your material, it doesn’t matter in the least.

What matters is that your target audience gets it. For example, if you are selling to…

-Girls ages 12 to 14 attending private schools on the east coast

-System administrators responsible for 1,000 to 4,999 Windows desktop machines

-Paralegals with more than four years of experience and at least one professional certification

…and the message you have created catches that target’s attention and motivates them to take the specific action you desire then it matters NOT ONE IOTA if anyone else “gets it.”

Sure, the real world beats up on this idea every day. If your boss or client doesn’t “get” the message they might not approve it. And sometimes your boss or client is actually inside the mind of the target audience, so that when they say they don’t get it that fact is meaningful.

But too often, the fact that someone who does not need to “get it” doesn’t, in fact, “get it”, leads to the demise of a damned good piece of work.

Well, here’s some bad news: when that happens, it’s your fault.

Because if you work in a marketing department or an ad agency and in your role you present proposed materials to people for feedback or approval, it is your job to defend messages that work. If a message would truly have worked, you absolutely, unequivocally should have been able to defend it. You should have been able to clearly articulate and demonstrate how and why the message would have worked.

So the next time you hear “I don’t get it,” or think you’re going to hear it, be ready. Know how and why the message you are presenting will succeed. And don’t be shy. Tell your boss or your client in plain English: You don’t have to get it.

Categories: creativity, performance
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Model, game, create.

December 1st, 2006 by Sam Romero

For me, being at work is often about being inside my head. The day-to-day administrative tasks to which I attend require that I be organized and attentive to detail. But they require no skills out of the ordinary and therefore yield no extraordinary results. I believe that I am doing my true job–the one not written in my job description–only when I am moving my company forward in a unique and significant way.

To that end there are three kinds of things that I do to add value: I model, I game, and I create.

Modeling is the easiest. There are some business processes and structures that are industry-specific and some that are fairly universal. To model is to understand what the goal of a given task is, envision the process or structure that has been demonstrated to most effectively achieve that goal–the model–and compare the model to what is at hand. I am able to model complex scenarios in my head accurately and instantaneously. When my company wants to try something new I can point us immediately in the standard direction. When my company finds that something is going wrong I can see the ways in which we differ from the model and determine if that difference is the cause, and more importantly, evaluate whether emulating the model would be the solution.

This leads me to the second thing that I do, which is gaming. To game is to foresee the consequences of a given course of action. Gaming for me can be overwhelming at times. When someone proposes a change to our company or our products it sets off a gaming sequence in my head. I take into account the peculiarities of our company within our competitive landscape, apply market forces, human factors, and technology considerations, and spin the whole thing into a probable future. And I really mean “spin”; while the gaming is going on in my head I can seem distracted, unfocused, and inattentive; sometimes I get dizzy. I recognize the incongruity of describing business processes and personal quirks in the same breath, but that incongruity, I think, is at the heart of substantive change.

The most difficult of the things I do is to create, because it is the process over which I have the least conscious control, yet it is the one that provides the most significant benefits. The process of creation, for me, is to take a set of data, complete or otherwise, and consider not what it is or what it means, but to imagine what it could be or what it could mean. It is asking, and answering, the question: “What if?”

Because I am in marketing my creativity most often expresses itself in terms of market positioning, product positioning, and advertising concepts. But as I progress in my career I find that the creativity is extending into diverse areas such as our product roadmaps, corporate structure and infrastructure, hiring and growth strategies, and alliance strategies.

I do not doubt that I am finding new ways to add value as I find new paths to walk within my head. I do not yet know if these directions will provide the level of job satisfaction I had when I was a creative director, and dealt mainly in flashy, engaging conceptual work. But I do know that they are exercising different parts of my brain, and that in itself is an experience to be savored.

Categories: creativity, performance
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Bare minimum.

November 24th, 2006 by Sam Romero

Some 90% of small businesses fail within the first five years. The ones that beat the odds do so for any number of reasons, not the least of which is luck. But in addition to issuing a rabbit’s foot (or vegetarian-friendly four-leaf clovers) to each employee, the wise executive seeks every day to bring statistic-defying value to his business.

I argue that there is a baseline of competence–a bare minimum–that you must meet to earn your paycheck. Namely, you must be damned good at your job. If you’re in sales, you better sell the hell out of your product or service. Accountants should be accurate to the penny. Marketing folks (the game I play) must be detail-oriented, cost-conscious, and have a complete understanding of their product, their customers, and their competitive landscape.

But kicking ass at your job just gets you in the door. Kick-ass executives are a dime a dozen. I’ve worked with an endless supply of smart, talented, and ambitious people in four-person startups and in FORTUNE 10 companies.

If you want to stand apart, you must be more than that. You must find a way to help your company succeed against the odds. You must have the knowledge, the insight, and the will to guide your company and your people to destinations they otherwise could not reach. This is what I seek to do.

Categories: performance
Comments: 1 Comment »

About Sam Romero

Thanks for visiting. I'm a Senior Marketing Executive, Creative Director, Writer, Editor and Interactive Producer with nineteen years of experience marketing FORTUNE 500 companies. I've spent time at advertising agencies and within corporations. I'm open to freelance work or a full-time position in a wide range of roles...

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