How to Build an Unignorable Brand with Peter Levitan

peter levitan on brand podcast

“The people that can parse out what to do—that can figure out the best media mix are going to win in this game because there’s just too much.” Peter Levitan has spent his career leading advertising, marketing, and PR agencies worldwide. A lifelong believer in the art and science of building brands, he spends his time these days advising agencies on business development. We discussed all of this and more on this week’s episode of the On Brand podcast.

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About Peter Levitan

Peter Levitan brings years of experience to his work as an agency consultant and CEO coach. After graduating from the San Francisco Art Institute and co-founding a successful photography company, Peter entered the world of advertising in 1980. During his 16 years at Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising Worldwide, he ran business development across Europe and the US, was EVP Management Director in London and New York, and was GM of the Minneapolis office.

In 1995, Peter discovered early-stage digital marketing and left the agency to invent the online newspaper industry for Conde Nast. The Newspaper Association of America named Peter its New Media Pioneer. In 2000, Peter founded the startup ActiveBuddy and raised $30 million, eventually selling the intelligent agency bot technology to Microsoft. Peter bought the Oregon-based ad agency Citrus in 2002. Under Peter’s leadership, Citrus delivered national and uber local advertising for clients including Nike, Harrah’s Casinos, and Legalzoom. Peter sold Citrus in 2014, making it one of three agencies he has successfully bought and sold.

Peter now lives in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and uses his vast experience to counsel advertising, digital, and PR agencies across the globe. He blogs about business development with an average of 65,000 views per year, hosts the Advertising Stories podcast, and authored the book The Levitan Pitch: Buy This Book. Win More Pitches. Peter knows more about ad agency business development than any other human. His programs deliver a very detailed strategic plan sandwiched between efficient branding and messaging programs that are designed to make an agency unignorable.

Episode Highlights

We began this week’s show by discussing Peter’s background in art and photography.  Specifically, I asked if this informed his advertising agency career and how. “I’m a believer in the art and science of branding. Photography is an art and science.” We then explored how this is applied to new media like TikTok.

What are agencies struggling with most today? As an advisor to advertising, digital, and PR agencies across the globe, I wanted Peter’s take on what challenges he’s seeing most. “It’s still a lot of the cobbler’s son having bad shoes. And trying to be everything to everybody.” As Peter reminded us, focus is your friend.

Where should agencies start when it comes to focus? “I start with a business plan. I know—shocking.” Peter also stressed that good business plans don’t have to be complex. “I don’t need notebooks for a business plan.”

What brand has made Peter smile recently? Peter shared his delight at Ford reintroducing the Bronco. This provided a great example of the types of emotions and nostalgia that brands can stir up.

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As We Wrap …

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On Brand is sponsored by my book Brand NowDiscover the seven dynamics to help your brand stand out in our crowded, distracted world. Order now and get special digital extras. Learn more.

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