Great advertising is like being a regular at a handful of different bars

To set up this premise: I drink my fair share of good beer. And good cocktails. And I eat my fair share of good food. I'm not on bon vivant status, but I know a good time and I know what I like. I tend to get homie hookups and industry discounts without being industry. And in the spirit of self-ethnography, I think, I've unlocked what great advertising is through my own life.

I talk to people everywhere I go. It's a natural thing. I like small talk, to be sure, but I'm also one to dive right into the meat of my life. Love me or leave me; I'm a pretty open book. If I come back to the same place often enough, and see the same people, you're going to have a pretty good grasp of what I'm about, and what I'm up to. More often than not, people seem to like that about me.

I don't exist solely at a single spot or two: that'd be like the retargeted banner ad that follows you for weeks, or the earworm NAPA Auto Parts ad that plays during every. single. timeout. throughout the NCAA tournament, making viewers want to burn down the nearest auto parts store out of spite by the end of the Sweet Sixteen. That's too much. That's overstaying your welcome.

No, I go to a pretty solid 1-2 dozen places at least a few times a month. Breweries, beer bars, pizza joints, breakfast hangs, coffee shops, what have you. I've gotten to know the folks who work there, and the other patrons I see when I go. We pick up conversations where we left off, we get to know each other, and we shoot the shit. 

And I tend to frequent spots where the staff and other regulars cross-pollinate: I might run into the same people working at different spots, or see the same faces from place to place and pick up conversations where they left off, or start new conversations with folks with mutual acquaintances. All of which makes the getting-to-know-you social vetting phase pretty straightforward and short.

The lesson: Are you - yourself, the brand, the product - pleasant to be around? Do people want more of what you bring to the table? Are relative strangers interested when you walk into a spot because the other regulars call you out when you walk in, because you can shoot the shit and hold a conversation, and because you add a positive to the element to the overall situation? Are you a part of what makes a mainstay a mainstay, and a new experience a great one? That's the type of response you should aim for in your advertising. That's great advertising: when you have the insiders' stamp of approval, when people who don't know you in a bar are interested in the fact that you're an apparently known quantity, and when your general demeanor goes on to add to the positive experience that that bar or restaurant fosters. Be part of the good time. Don't suck the life out of it. That's bad/typical advertising.

I just got a puppy (which explains why I haven't written anything in a few weeks). I've been asked - required - in no uncertain terms to bring the puppy into joints that don't allow pets, and I've been jokingly (sorta) told that I'm not welcome back at some of my spots until I bring the puppy. Why is this relevant? This is about as strong a word-of-mouth vote-of-confidence as you'll get: if this puppy gets the seal of approval from me, whom folks where I go seem to like, then it's gotta be a cool customer. And they want to see it even if the rules prohibit it, sight unseen.

If you, the brand, bring the heat in your being and your messaging, you've got an easy in with your customers: just be likable, be desirable, not too in your face too frequently, and be pleasant. Fit in, but stand out enough to be a noticeable piece of the overall vibe. Be the person at the bar that people are pleasantly surprised to see and know by name when you walk in, and whom other folks want to get to know and talk to.

Be the person whose new puppy they might let walk around on the bar after last call has ended.

Dear Advertising, The internet is a terrible place. And yet, here we are.

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