By Michael Stodola Special to Published Aug 06, 2007 at 11:09 AM

The constant charge of any ad agency is getting new clients.  That’s if the goal of the agency is not to go belly-up.  The overly used metaphor of a shark always needing to swim to stay alive comes to mind (and then gets quickly discarded because it’s overly used).  And, speaking of overly-used crap, if I get another four-color postcard promoting another whatever, I’m going to puke.

My point?  The art of self-promotion is a tricky, little minx.

Around our shop these days, we’ve begun to develop the latest generation of our Web site.  And approaching this project has been a bit daunting.  How do you effectively promote yourself without looking like a complete knob?  Or self-righteous?  Or whorish?  You can try to treat yourself like a client, but you’re too close to the subject matter.

The fact is you’re promoting yourself.  You’re attempting to look smart, approachable and fresh to attract the “client” of the species.  Not unlike hippos attracting mates by marking territory.  They urinate and defecate at the same time, before they twirl their tails like a propeller to spread the awful cologne all over.  This apparently attracts lovers, and the pair will begin foreplay, which consists of playing “splashy-splashy” in the water before getting it on.

But I’ve gotten off track.

When it comes to promoting your wares (or hot hippo action), honesty is the best policy.  Define yourself in terms meaningful to your audience, but be mindful of who you are as a brand.  We’ve decided to begin our project with a mission statement -- a succinct collection of words that will lay the path for our journey. Who are we?  To our current clients?  New prospects?  Employees?  It’s these three audiences that we need to consider.

Your mission statement is what you stand for.  And it doesn’t need to be poetic or short because you’re not writing a tag line.  It’s a wonderful starting point because it’s from the core.  Every great brand is true to its core.

I’m going to be sharing our journey of self-promotion with you, like it or not.  I’m a little nervous, but I feel our approach has the right intention and solid footing.  Ultimately, you can check out our final product and give me some feedback.  Good, positive, rave-review-type feedback, to remind me of my genius.  Or just crap on it like a hippo.  Either would be fine. 

Michael Stodola Special to
Michael Stodola is the Creative Director at Boelter + Lincoln – a Milwaukee advertising agency. He loves his job, but not as much as he loves scuba diving, crab cakes or playing with his kids. His favorite thing is sneaking off for dates with his hottie wife. Born and raised in Nebraska, he’s been calling Milwaukee home for well over 10 years. After Michael’s impending death, he’d like to return to this world as your next American Idol®.