The complex and varying science of marketing and, specifically, advertising agencies has always been an item of interest for me and thankful with the help of the extremely insightful lecture given by Mike Arbogast, the COO and Creative Director of Interaction Media in Morgantown, WV I now walk away feeling much more prepared for the our team project of creating a successful advertising campaign for our individual clients. The insight that he gave us was a refreshing step away from the academic expression of the matter in the way that his real world experience with operating a real world advertising agency gives it a certain amount of credibility and applicability than can often be found in the classroom for me.
Mike’s lecture began with a group activity that at first glance seemed almost impossible to complete or even understand; simply, everyone had a picture that aligned with other’s picture, the challenge was to get the pictures into order, the catch was you were only allowed to look at your picture and no one else’s. As everyone delved into looking at and trying to explain their often abstract images to others in their group things weren’t looking good as there seemed to be little correlation between the images. However, little by little patterns began to emerge and eventually we all felt like we might have had it figured out, and it turns out that we did to our amazement. The point of the exercise was to illustrate the downright importance of what would come to be one of the main focuses of the presentation, communication.
The think that Mike said that opened my mind the most about his company and advertising agencies in general is when he said “It is not about us or what we want …it is about the customer wants and needs”, this resonated with me. He then went on to highlight that the only way to find out what the customer needs is through fully open communication channels. He specifically highlighted the need for complete transparency both on the part of the marketing team, but more importantly on the part of the business owner. He made the point that in order to know what your customer needs you have to know what they have; specifically, the amount of business they have, the amount of money they make, the amount of advertising they presently do, who their customer base is, why they are better than their competition, and what is the image of their company, among others. Only then can you start asking the questions concerning where they want to go, like how much money do they want to make, how do they want their company to be portrayed, and how many customers do they want to have, etc. Mike did make the point that often businesses do not alway know the answers to these questions and that is where the importance of understanding them and their business comes into play.
Overall, I greatly enjoyed the insight that Mike was able to just us about the practical world of advertising agencies and believe that by incorporating the knowledges that he passed on to us will prove invaluable in our group advertising campaigns.