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James Patterson on Marketing –

“Hit them with a cream pie, then say something smart.”

James Patterson is the world’s highest-paid author, and one of the most prolific.  But he got his start in the advertising world.  Brian Williams called him “A latter-day Don Draper who rose all the way to the top of mega-agency J. Walter Thompson.“

Patterson offers pointed advice regarding how to create effective advertising, but the tip is equally applicable to nearly all types of marketing, phrased in his typically direct, no-BS style: 

“The key is, you have to hit people in the face with a cream pie — you have to get their attention — then you have to say something smart.”

We need something smart to say; that’s our “marketing message.”

Those are the challenges we face every day as marketers of law firms or other products or services. But I’ve never heard it phrased any better than that.

But our audience is too busy to read, listen to, or watch anything that isn’t unique, powerful, innovative, humorous, or otherwise extremely relevant to them and their lives.

That is, we have to grab our audience by the lapels and shake them. We must force them to pay attention to us.

We must rise above the clutter.

If we don’t, we’re just whispering in the wind.  And what’s the point of that?

As one of many examples, we hit the Vancouver legal market with a cream pie a while ago, representing a brand-new Canadian divorce firm that was seeking local lawyer referrals.  The basic message?  “We are skilled divorce lawyers.”

But here’s the cream pie:

For 100+ more cream pies, go to

James Patterson photo copyright © 2012 by Hachette Book Group