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July 11, 2006

Staff Picks: Hugh Hoagland's Review of The Little Blue Book of Advertising

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 7:05 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

Review of The Little Blue Book of Advertising

By Steve Lance and Jeff Woll

Im an entrepreneur with three companies in a niche in the electrical industry but I learned several things from this book written primarily for a Creative Director, Marketing Director, Ad Executive, CEO or those who want to be one or have to work with one.
The two most compelling things the book had to offer was the value of the diversity of creative people, marketing people and research people and the power of branding. Steve and Jeff keep the book interesting (it started a little slowly as they focused on the value of diversity and intricacies of office politics in the first third of the book, but they redeemed themselves pretty quickly) by sharing insights like Brand, brand, brand and Customer benefit, Customer benefit, Customer benefit, p. 154. Sounds pretty repetitious here but their case is pervasive. I looked at my literature and saw how I failed to accomplish my objectives according to their measures. I change the look of my literature too much because it bores me and didnt remember basic marketing principles of branding to keep the look consistent. In a small company with NO marketing staff officially, it is easy to forget the principles of good branding.
Jeff and Steve remind us of the need the customer has to come away from our literature and websites with the feeling that we have empathized with them, that Hmmm, these guys could solve my problem. (p. 155). Appealing to basic needs (p. 6), knowing your audience (p. 17), knowing your competitors advertising (p. 50-52) and then micro marketing to the focused segments (p. 21) all make good sense when I listen to these seasoned advertising specialists.
Other great insights of the Little Blue Book is to differentiate between muzz and good research. I have seen a lot of large companies spend money on muzz. Though Jeff and Steve dont tell you where muzz comes from but I would chance to offer it is a cross between buzz and muzzle in which the poor or inadequate research is spun into a buzz within the marketing department or within the company to muzzle the reality that our decisions arent being made on anything we are really measuring. The emphasis on consistent research and looking for trends is a good one. You wont find much help in the Little Blue Book on what questions to ask to help you in your niche but the sermonizing on the need to keep the questions of surveys and other research consistent so trends can be spotted is a good one.
On writing literature and sales pieces the wonderful advice to avoid My companys great statements is a good one. Though it is amazing how much advertising is just this it is clear this might stroke egos within the company but probably does little to sell the product. Steve and Jeff challenge us to look in a magazine and see how much advertising is just this. Their advice to sell the benefit, advantage and feature in that order (p. 89-93) is solid and I see even in my literature it is one I have forgotten to do.
An alternate title could be The Little Blue Book of Brand Management. I didnt expect what I got as read it. Their concepts are not really new and they seem to give plenty of credit to others but the ideas are good. They do recommend using the internet for research and advertising but dont provide much guidance on this. Containing the advice of experienced specialists, this book was a benefit for this consumer of business advice.
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Reviewed by Hugh Hoagland

About Dylan Schleicher


Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.