How to Build a Cathedral

Johnny Molson


If you try to be known for everything, you end up being known for nothing.

Advertisements stand alone. Campaigns are a string of advertisements with a golden thread between them.
A brick is a rectangular block of clay and shale. A Cathedral is the assemblage of many bricks in a predefined pattern.

Business owners often try to get the whole cathedral in one advertisement. These are the numbing ads that list every single thing a company does, and their hours, and their phone number, and their Thursday specials, and how many square feet are in the place, and the year they went into business, and and and and…

How do you build a cathedral? One brick at a time. As the architect of your ad campaign, you start with your blueprint. This is your strategy. More on that next week.

Once you’ve designed your strategy, you get to make it pretty. Each brick you add in this string of advertisements must support the strategy. If the strategy of your campaign is to build a cathedral, each ad must hold up the cathedral.

An easy case study is Geico. Each ad in the campaign is designed to support one strategy. “Give us 15 minutes, and we’ll save you 15% on car insurance.” Did you know Geico also sells insurance for your pet? …for your jewelry? …for your business? No, you don’t. Because that’s not the strategy. The strategy is to sell car insurance. If they started throwing all that other stuff in, they would just have an unrecognizable pile of bricks. Put simply: If you try to be known for everything, you end up being known for nothing.

If your goal is to be known as the accountant who saves companies money, you need to assemble the ads in a way that supports that one idea. One ad could be about organizing taxes… to save a company money. The next ad could be about simplifying the billing process… to save a company money. A third ad could be about aggressive budgeting… to save a company money. All ads end up in the same place. They may be 3 different ads, but they all point to the same nucleus.

A cathedral will not be built in a day. It will take many bricks, a long time, and a good plan. But, you can do it… one brick at a time.

Johnny Molson


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