David Burn: Chief Storyteller at Bonehook & Editor of Adpulp

David Burn is a writer and brand builder based in the Pacific Northwest. After working for agencies in Salt Lake City, Denver, Omaha, Chicago and Hilton Head Island, he headed back to the source (of his advertising inspiration) to wipe the slate clean and begin again. Now he’s president and chief storyteller at Bonehook, a firm he founded in 2009 to help his friends build their brands and grow their businesses. David also is the co-founder and editor of AdPulp.com, one of the leading ad industry sites in the world today. Given the importance of content in today’s media and marketing universe, David sees the act of making media and making marketing communications as two sides of one coin.

What are you working on right now?

Right now, I’m working on landing new business. The survival of my marketing services startup is dependent upon it.

Three trends that excite you?

I’m glad that there’s a new frugality in the nation today, because conservation and wise use of resources signals a return to common sense. I’m also excited to see corporate interests open up to the social Web. They’re doing it to make money, but that’s fine. The net result is still greater transparency and a focus on serving the customer’s needs. Third, I’m thrilled to see a DIY ethic take hold in the creative industries. Thanks to affordable cameras and other technology, a small group of independent professionals can do some major damage. In a good way.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Ideas are brought to life by teams of dedicated individuals. Therefore, I focus on putting the best teams together for a particular project. Bonehook has no employees at this time. I reach out to contractors to do the work, and this has significant advantages from both a creative and cost standpoint. Creatively, the contractor model, like the Hollywood movie-making model, is one that is custom fitted to the project at hand. The team I put on a health care client, for instance, is not the same team I choose for an outdoor recreation client. From a cost perspective, we don’t have much overhead, so a client pays for top talent, not fancy offices and the like.

What inspires you?

Skillfully played live music. Poetry and prose that sings. Happy people with love in their hearts.

What is one mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn from it?

I used to be a yeller, at work and at home. Thankfully, I saw the error of my ways and was able to change a bad habit.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Don’t e-mail an important customer or prospect when a handwritten letter will do the job. We all talk about breaking through the clutter. Well, few things break through the clutter like a personal note that you spent time crafting. What’s in the letter itself speaks, but the fact that you took the time to do it right speaks volumes.

What is one book and one tool that helps you bring ideas to life?

I just started using Skitch, and I love it. It provides an elegant way to share images with a team. You make a screen grab with Skitch, and then you can use their tool set to draw, point, type, resize, etc. This is one of those tools that makes you think, “How did I previously do without this?”

Who would you love to see interviewed on IdeaMensch?

Court Crandall, formerly of Ground Zero and presently part of WONGDOODY’s LA team. He also writes for the screen.

What was the toughest part about going from copywriter/creative director to running the show as an agency principal?

The number of balls one has in the air goes from five or six, to five or six times that many. Right now, I’m Bonehook’s copywriter and creative director, but I’m also the account director, strategy director, project manager and billing manager. Sadly, I’m not the right person for some of these key responsibilities, but until I can create the revenue stream that allows me to hire people who are right for these roles, it all falls on me to do, and do well.

You’ve hardly touched on the the thing many of us know you for — AdPulp.com. Is the site taking a back seat to your day job?

I started AdPulp during a period of unemployment in 2004, but for most of the site’s existence, I’ve managed to give it the attention it needs while holding down a full-time job. Today, I don’t have a job. As the owner of a small business, I have six of them. Be that as it may, AdPulp has a special place in my day-to-day routine. The communications industry is a powerful force in the world today, and I think it’s important to keep a critical eye on it, so that’s what I do. In addition, the topics we explore on AdPulp inform the work I do building brands. Like red wine and chocolate, the two go pretty well together.




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