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Mar 21, 2019

On today’s episode of Just the Tips, Dean and I welcome a mononymous icon in the world of advertising: Spanky. Ken “Spanky” Moskowitz has worked for some of the biggest brands in the world, including kicking off a huge campaign for Coca-Cola. On today’s episode, Spanky tells us how he got his nickname, why he embraced it, how story can transform advertising, and how you can tap into your own personal history to make your advertising connect with your audience. Spanky is such a great podcast guest, full of high energy and incredible insights.

Literally a life spent in advertising

Despite being saddled with a nickname he (initially) hated, Spanky always dreamed of carving out a spot for himself in branding. When he was 13, the very same uncle who gave him his nickname also gave him $500 in cash, and he was able to take that money and make himself a small recording studio. But instead of making music, Spanky made advertisements. He’d always been fascinated by radio ads, and so at 13 he hung out in his house while his family went to the beach and recorded high-quality ads that no one would hear. You know how they say you should do what you love and what you’re passionate about? It doesn’t get much more passionate than a 13-year-old kid making ads for fun.

The key to writing great copy

This show is called Just the Tips, so we asked Spanky to tell us exactly what the key to writing great copy is. And his answer is maybe a little counterintuitive: Stop trying to write great copy. And what he means by that is stop trying to make a pitch, or writing what you think is the greatest copy in the world. The key is to dig into your life experiences, try to tap into the pain and the joy of your intended audience, and write to that. Tell stories, because stories connect every one us. As Spanky says, if movies were written like ads, they’d bomb. But how do you convey a story in a short ad? Keep listening.

How to make your ads story-based

Spanky told us this story about a friend of his who owned a swim school. And the ad they were using was very pretty, showed happy kids swimming. But they weren’t getting any conversions. So Spanky dipped into his own childhood, when an incident in a pool almost led to him drowning because he couldn’t swim, and he crafted a 100-word ad that appealed to that fear in parents. He put together the ad and almost instantly they had six months of bookings. And that’s what Spanky has learned: Companies get caught up in what their offer is, but forget the why behind why their audience may even want that offer.

Not every ad needs a story

Even though Spanky is an evangelist for making your ads a story, he says that not every ad needs a story. An example of that may be when you’re working someone through a sales funnel. Maybe the story grabs them, but the second time they see an ad, it’s just a straight list of sales and benefits. Or maybe your first ad doesn’t have a story but the re-targeting ad does. You need to think through what works best for your company, but you should have the story in mind whenever you’re crafting your ads. Spanky is a true pro, and this is a must-listen episode of Just the Tips.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:42] Why Spanky?
  • [4:35] How Spanky got into copywriting and branding
  • [8:32] Getting his start in radio
  • [10:00] The key to writing great copy
  • [17:35] Spanky shares an example of making a whiskey ad emotional
  • [23:23] Should every ad tell a story?
  • [25:29] Can anyone do this?
  • [31:10] Why Ken started Ad Zombies

Music for “Just The Tips” is titled, “Happy Happy Game Show” by Kevin MacLeod ( Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

Resources Mentioned

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