I’ve jotted down a few notes over the past few days every time I see a piece of advertising that bugs me. Ok, it more than bugs me. I have a disease called “I can’t stand bad advertising-itis.” So, this is a hodgepodge of three different items that have plagued me recently…
The local restaurant’s ad for a burger special in a women’s magazine. Not just any burger. A sloppy, drippy, messy burger! In a women’s magazine! Not that there aren’t women who eat burgers where there’s a 90% chance you’ll be wearing part of it when you’re done…but come on. It IS more of a guys thing. So… bzzzzzzttt. Definitely not the best place to put your burger ad.
Next up is a local financial services TV commercial. It was a winner. And it’s the type of local TV commercial that is represented every minute of the day on your local TV channels or Cable TV. Ok, here we go. Walk with me here. I can just hear the TV “creative” person saying to the advertiser…
“It’s gonna be great. We’ll walk around your offices with our camera and shoot everyone in their natural working environment. It will show the viewers that you’re hard workers and that you’re serious about financial services. Then, at the end, we’ll pan in and get a great close-up shot of your business name and logo that’s hanging on your wall in the lobby. Throughout the commercial, we’ll have a professional voice list off all the services you provide and also have really cinematic music in the background. Actually, it’s more of a film than a TV commercial.” Barf.
Finally… we have an ultra-cliché slogan that puts an exclamation on the fact that all of their marketing is mediocre at best…
“It’s your time.”
That’s it. Stirred your soul, didn’t it? Barf. I know I already used a “barf”…but it fits perfectly here as well. I can’t even remember what kind of business used that slogan. Shocker, I know.
That was fun. Short and to the point, right?
Maybe I’ll do more of these. Because the bad, ridiculous, and just plain forgettable marketing and advertising ideas are ALL AROUND ME. I want it to stop. Or do I?
On the drive back from my parent’s farm yesterday I noticed all the billboards. It’s about 25 miles of Interstate driving. When you get about 20 miles from the city, the billboards start peppering the landscape. You can’t go a quarter-mile without another billboard. Both sides. It’s ugly. Very very ugly.
Do you know what billboards are best for? Besides a bird perch? To let a person know that you’re in business at that exact moment. I say “at that exact moment” because the driver won’t remember you after about 10 seconds. That’s even IF they saw your billboard.
Naturally, the travelers into the city might actually need a hotel to stay at for the night. So, there are at least 25 different billboards advertising their amenities on my short interstate drive. And maybe these drivers need a place to eat. So, you’ll see a lot of restaurants advertised on the billboards. Especially restaurants nearby where you can say “HUNGRY? EXIT NOW!”
But ONE company I saw that has a lot of billboards is a FLOORING COMPANY. I don’t get it.
Billboards are NOT for branding. And a flooring company needs to BRAND themselves. A flooring company needs to have emotional and memorable advertising. WHY? Because how often does anyone need carpet? Not very. So, you can’t tell a very good story on a billboard. You can’t change perceptions on a billboard. And there are a LOT of other flooring companies in the city, so, “awareness” isn’t doing you much good. A flooring company needs persuasion in their advertising. Not their logo and location!
When can a billboard help a branding campaign? ONLY when you have enough electronic advertising to go with it. Meaning TV or Radio advertising. For example, if I owned a local business, I wouldn’t advertise on a billboard unless I was advertising on just about all of the local radio stations first. Then, I would reinforce my radio campaign with quick snippets on a few billboards that remind people of what I was saying in my Radio Ads.
TV is an electronic medium that might go well with billboards also. But only if you’re ALL OVER TV. And we know what that might cost. This flooring company isn’t advertising on the Radio. They might be on TV… I’m not sure. I’m not sure because I don’t watch much TV. And when I do… it’s on my DVR. And I’m 40 years old. Are there any 30 to 50 year olds you want to target? They’re not watching as much live TV today. Just be aware of that.
Are billboards EASY to incorporate? Of course. It’s just a simple image that’s printed on a huge canvas. It’s easy. Easy. Easy. And I think that’s why a lot of local businesses use billboards. It’s BIG and it’s EASY. Are you thinking… “Big means awesome, right? And if it’s easy… that’s a no brainer. Billboards are the best option!”
If you want your advertising budget to actually give you a great return on investment… give me a shout. Let’s tackle your unique situation.
Can billboards work? Absolutely! But they’re not for every business. And they’re not for every situation. Be smart about it. And don’t ever be sold that billboards are a great way to “brand” a business. It doesn’t matter if it’s a traditional billboard or a digital billboard… they’re NOT FOR BRANDING. They’re for immediate-response advertising and for reinforcing a “branding” type of ad campaign. And most local businesses should have a “branding” type of advertising plan in place.
There are things about you… and things you do within your business and for your customers… in which the majority of local yocals have NO FLIPPIN’ IDEA ABOUT. They think you’re like “this”, but you’re really like “this” AND “that”.
Ummmm… I’m trying to say that you should make people think differently about you with your advertising. Cause them to pause and wonder. Wield the power of
words to give them a dose of “whatever” and make them go, “Holy shit, I didn’t know that.”
Or something like that.
It doesn’t have to be mind blowing. It just needs to be something odd, interesting, or great about you that most people don’t know. You say, why would they care? Because we’re HUMAN. We love our soap operas and drama and cheap entertainment!
Make them think differently about you. In a good way. Or in an interesting way. Cause people to know that you’re not exactly what they think you are. You’re better. You’re a little complicated. You’re a business that “gets it”. You’re a business that stands up for something. You’re a business that has a few little adorable quirks that makes people want to ALWAYS do business with YOU.
Get out of your advertising RUT. Be bold. Dare yourself to push limits. Don’t be such a stick in the mud. Don’t be just like everyone else – because that makes you invisible to us.
After I experience one of your advertisements, I should be able to tell someone else what the point of the ad was. I should be able to take some sort of new nugget of information and attach that to YOUR name.
I did a radio ad recently for a beloved client. We made a pretty awesome impact with it by talking about a bag of potato chips in a few different ways. It’s a sewing machine and sewing education store! And once in a while I get my head out of my arse and write something that really gets noticed.
To defend my writing abilities, I know that most of my ads get noticed more than most other advertising, BUT it’s always nice to hit on something a little extra special once in a while. And that can only happen though when you’re WILLING to “do it different” in your advertising. When you’re willing to make them think differently about you.
“But they’ll think I’m weird.”
Hey… news flash… everyone’s weird. Some people just show it more than others.
Just start breaking a few of the marketing and advertising rules. By the way… there are NO marketing and advertising RULES. Be honest. Be fun. Be sincere. Be daring. Be unexpected. Be unpredictable. Those are the rules.
And for some reason I’ll share this with you…
I’ve been questioning myself lately. I’ve been wondering if I’m wasting my time with this blog. Actually, for quite a while now. I haven’t posted much in 2014. I used to do it just because I loved it and I wanted to help people. Then I questioned that. Is that getting me where I want to go?
Well… I’m telling you that it IS. It’s getting me exactly where I want to go. I DO this because I like writing and teaching and helping small business owners get a lot more out of their local advertising efforts. I’ll be writing more this year. I’ll be pushing my own “limits” with what I write. I hope I’ll be giving out some unpredictable advice.
How do you know if you’re investing too much or too little into some kind of
advertising or marketing?
Here’s the “simple” way to determine a general sense of “how much” you need to do….
How much competition do you have? A little? Then, you don’t have to advertise as much. A lot? Good luck. You better have something to say that differentiates you from the competition or give people a reason to choose you instead of all the other businesses that seem exactly like you.
How much do you want to grow and how fast? If it’s a lot… in a short period of time, then you better pony up some cash.
How complicated is your product or service? Does “your target” easily understand what you’re offering? Or are you going to have to really SELL them on it? The more complicated the message (your advertising), then you’ll need a more complicated ad. You’ll need a longer ad usually. You’ll need to compare what you do to something else that is more easily understandable. Compare what you do to something that almost everyone “gets”. Or give us a scenario of why and when someone might need what you offer. You could use a sentence in your advertising like, “It’s like _______, only faster.” OR “Do you know how when you _______ and _______ and you’re thinking OMG I’m going to pull my hair out…well, we fix that. We make that go away forever.” (get my point?)
If you have a niche that nobody else is promoting, but is desirable to your target, then you don’t have to have a very complicated message. Just get attention with a good headline and be crystal clear with your message. Don’t overload your ad with things you don’t need. Don’t force any humor into your ad if you don’t need to.
Hey… if you don’t have much competition… congratulations! Then, all you have to do is let enough people know that you’re open for business and then serve those customers extremely well so they tell others and so they come back again and again.
BUT… I’m thinking you might have more competition than you think you do. It’s just not “traditional” competition or someone that’s in your precise type of business. For example, if there are no INDOOR go-cart tracks in your market, you may think you’ll have no competition if you open one. (Great idea! Especially, in a place where winters get stupidly cold.) But during the summer, you’ll have some other competition – a few other tracks. You’ll get all of the winter entertainment seekers though, right? Not so fast. That word “entertainment” is the key to focus on here…
We only have so much money we can spend on “entertainment”. You might think it’s going to be a perfect weekend for everyone to come out and hand over their cash…but that weekend might just be the opening of the latest Halo movie, stupid humor comedy, or the next sweet ass Star Wars film. You’re competing with every other “entertainment” type of business, not just go-cart tracks. Movie theaters, trampoline places, sprint car tracks, local sporting events, ski bumps, etc.
And if you’re a restaurant that serves the same kind and caliber of food as 35 other restaurants in a 3-mile radius, good luck. Then, you for SURE need to keep advertising consistently. Part of advertising for restaurants is to remind us that you’re there and that you’re an option. Because we’re getting bombarded with offers and coupons and half-price deals every day. By the way… why not just advertise why you’re good and how you’re good and tell us a good story along the way so we remember you? Like on the radio. Then, you won’t have to give away all your profits with coupons. Then, when you attract the new customers, you better be able to back up what you’re saying in your ads.
Assess your complete market situation before you decide to pump any money into something. You could be spending more than you need to… or not nearly enough to make an impact.
And do you know about this whole theme of “Non-Fat Advertising” I have here? Keep the “fat” out of your ads! Don’t fill me full of clichés and fluff and B.S. Give me some substance. Entertain me a little. Keep me looking, clicking, or listening. Wow me. Because I have plenty of other crap to do. It won’t take much for me to ignore every ounce of your wimpy and gutless advertising. There’s an imaginary line you shouldn’t cross with how “creative” or “weird” or “out there” your ads are. But the best performing ads will go right up to that line and flirt with it for a bit.
The more “beefy” and full of flavor your ads are… means THEY WORK BETTER. Which means you get more big bang for you buck than the average, crappy ad.
For a general “ballpark” local advertising budget, take a percentage of your revenues (or your next year’s revenue goal if you’re looking to grow even more), like 5 to 12% depending on your competition and your profit margins… and stick to it. Adjust it annually based on how things are going overall. Of course there are many factors to consider – let me know if you want to talk “budget” or “cost of exposure” in more detail. Because maybe you’re a retail store that would benefit a lot more by moving to a higher-visibility area instead of putting the extra money into advertising. Maybe you wouldn’t.
Ok, maybe there’s not anything “simple” to figuring out how much to advertise. But guess what? There is NO EASY BAKE FORMULA that lets you off the hook of actually learning a little bit about this (or finding the right person to HELP you think it through). You WISH there was a formula! You and every other business owner. Sorry Charlie. You’ll just have to find someone in your area LIKE ME who has your best interest at heart and who knows how to make advertising work. And what kinds of things to avoid overpaying for… or avoid completely.
How much should you advertise? Not too much. Not too little.
Oh, since we’re only a few days past Christmas… have you read MERRY CHRISTMAS BUY FROM US ? I was totally “on fiiiiyaaahhhh” when I wrote it.
How do you find a good marketing and advertising person?
You know you should advertise, but you don’t know who to trust. You may have started out trusting everyone, but you soon found out they didn’t know what they were doing. Or they only had THEIR sales in mind – not yours.
Then, you became jaded and untrusting of every advertising salesperson. And when that happened you basically took your advertising into your own hands. Which I understand. But advertising isn’t your thing. You need to find advertising help that you can trust. You have to ask around. You have to search the Internet and look for website content that doesn’t sound fluffy and glazed over. You have to talk with a few marketing people – you can even do it over the phone in 5 minutes.
And I don’t care if you’re looking for a pro in just one advertising medium like Radio, TV, online, billboards, etc., or maybe an all-in-one type of marketing pro who knows about all kinds of advertising mediums and options, or even if you’re just looking for a so-called social media expert. Side note: If you’re a small, local business, please DO NOT PAY SOMEONE to handle your flippin’ Facebook and Twitter accounts (or other platforms). It’s not worth paying for! Need advice with it? –shoot me an email.
So, let’s say you think you found someone who might be good. Someone who you you’d want working for YOU instead of your competition. Why not have a few questions ready for them that will help you decide 100% whether they’re keepers or not?
Ask them, (1) “How do you make advertising work for your other clients?”
Ask them, (2) “What is the KEY to creating advertising that works?”
Ask them, (3) “What kind of information do you need in order to create a great advertising campaign for me?”
The answer for (1) should have something to do about digging for information. Finding out as much as they can about you. They’ll want to have a few good meetings with you to really dive in and ask the hard questions. And to ask the smart questions. It’s not about asking, “What are your customer demographics?” (barf, gag, sputter) It’s about finding the “gold” within you and your business. Good “detective work” and good researching skills are what initially makes an advertising campaign come together and have a chance of working.
The answer for (2) should be something about the “AD” itself. They should go into “educator” mode and tell you about how the MESSAGE in all your advertising is how to make or break an advertising campaign. They should tell you that WHERE you advertise is NOT NEARLY AS IMPORTANT as what you SAY to the people you’re trying to persuade to buy from you. Good advertising isn’t about finding cheap ad rates, it’s about finding someone who can WRITE good advertisements for you. It’s about finding someone who can help devise a proper advertising strategy and ad campaign JUST FOR YOU.
The answer for (3) can be about finding out about your uniqueness, your strengths, weaknesses, personality, your competition, and your CUSTOMERS. They need to find out why your best customers buy from you, and why non-customers don’t buy from you (is it because people don’t know about you or because they do?). For me…I will sometimes mention to a new client that one of the best ways for me to get the GOOD information is if I could be a fly on the wall. If I could watch and listen to every customer interaction you had for an entire week, that would be priceless information. Most importantly, I would get to hear what kind of questions they ask. That’s gold, baby! And I would also get to hear how you answer those questions. That may give me some extra help in finding your uniqueness…but it also may give me an indication as to whether you or the people in your company in contact with those potential buyers or current customers need a little help with their “people skills”, sales skills, or customer service skills.
That was maybe a tad long for an answer to that question, but you’re trying to learn about this stuff, too, right?
Please don’t take looking for “an ad person” or marketing person lightly. Once you find one to trust, it’s going to make your life a lot easier. Can you imagine being frustrated with marketing people EVERY TIME you wanted to put some kind of advertisement into the eyes or ears of the public? OMG!
This is your hard-earned marketing budget we’re talking about. This money you’re investing in your marketing and advertising should be to help you GROW your business, or at least maintain your market share in an ever-changing market – not be just an expense to you because you feel it’s a necessary evil.
I’m writing about this because I’m in Sales. I’m also in Advertising and Marketing – which is more Sales. You are in sales in some way. Have you been “taught” things about the science of selling? Some sales education includes the topic of Objections. It’s about anticipating objections – and then knowing how to precisely respond to those objections.
What do YOU think about anticipating objections?
I think that kind of thinking is backwards (or sideways?). I believe that we’re encountered by objections because we’re thinking too much about them. Or thinking about them, period. “What if they say this…what if they say that?” Worry, worry, worry. Why worry about what might happen? What will happen…will happen. But YOU control what will happen.
Keeping on the subject of Objections…my solution to overcoming objections is to KNOW as much as…
You have a lot of junk to sort through in regards to marketing. And I do mean junk. But you (the local business owner) don’t know the half of it. The big Fortune 500 companies have CMTO’s now. Chief Marketing Technology Officers. No shit. And they use really big words, too. They say things like,
“It’s difficult to think about architecting experiences across touch point when the marketing organization is focused around optimizing within their own silos. Your thoughts on that hypothesis?”
I took that out of a Forbes marketing article. They crave marketing jargon so much…they make up new words like “architecting” when they’re talking about marketing!
Personally, I feel they’ve just lost touch. I think the “big guys” should focus more on their employees, communication through the ranks, and giving their customers a great experience…instead of looking for the latest fad in “marketing technology”. After all… consumers aren’t robots to be “decoded”… we’re people. With emotions.
Now…back to you…the local biz. You still have a lot of junk to sort through. It’s just different junk. Yours is the 20 to 100 types of advertising mediums who have 1 to 15 salespeople each. Knocking, calling, bugging, pitching, and lying. To you. And here’s the WORST friggin’ part… 95% of them are untrained in handling advertising dollars. Untrained in how to make advertising actually WORK! Untrained! Why are you giving them your MONEY?!
I’m going to keep telling you…you HAVE to learn a little bit about the local marketing and advertising game in order to make an informed decision. I want you to read a few books on marketing. I want you to read a marketing blog here and there.
WAIT. Here’s what I think you should do. Read my book (Take A Bigger Slice). Then, read Tim Miles’ book (Good Company). Or vice-versa. Actually, read Tim’s book first because you need to get a lot of other stuff tidied up before you decide to start spending money on any advertising.
Oh, what? You’re spending money right now on advertising? Ruh-roh. That’s ok, as long as you:
Know what you stand for
Know what your goals are
Treat your employees and customers like gold
Know what kinds of things you should say in your advertising
Then, fire away!
I’m just trying to make the point that advertising isn’t a cure-all for your business woes.
THEN…when you DO have most of your ducks in a row… take a crack at my book. I keep pushing you towards my book because it’s fairly short and to the point. And that’s ultra-important because I run into a lot of business owners who say “I don’t read.” What?! How can you not READ? Here’s what Charlie Tremendous Jones had to say about that. Click me.
Also, get the Wizard of Ads trilogy by Roy H. Williams. His is advanced reading that you surround yourself with and melt into. That’s when you really want to KNOW WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW. I went to a 3-day workshop of his like 10 years ago. I walked away not only looking at advertising differently…I saw the whole world differently. No joke. Of course, there are many others that will help you along. But there’s also a lot of jibber jabber out there.
I think I wrote my book to give people a quick rundown about what to do and what not to do in regards to local advertising. I wanted to give business owners just enough advertising education so they would know if they were investing their advertising dollar wisely. I want YOU to know if your ad budget is being managed by a bunch of monkeys.
Please don’t look for better marketing junk. Just be a better marketer. Be better at detecting what’s good and what stinks up the joint.
Oh, and also be glad you’re a local business owner who can see the smiles on your customers’ faces. Rather than being a big, fat, greedy corporate CEO / stockholder who has lost all sense of what entrepreneurship and customer service really means.
I think you’re a little drunk. You’re tipsy. I’m ready to take your keys.
You love to see all of the “numbers” from your online advertising efforts. “Look! See! There are this many people clicking on my digital ad and visiting my website! Eureka!”
I’m calling BS!
Disclaimer-ish: I have a few clients doing some Digital Advertising : )
From the moment you started your digital ad campaign…what happened to your sales? Did they rocket upwards like your website hits did? Nope. Because if they did…you would have stopped advertising in every other medium…and doubled-down on Digital. But you didn’t. You’re drunk from the “numbers”.
But they’re not the right numbers are they? No, they’re not. They’re not the numbers in which you TRULY want to see rise. Your sales. Otherwise, you would be shouting from the rooftops about the genius of online advertising. You’d be telling all your buddies how smart you are. You’d tell them you finally found the silver bullet of advertising…the magic potion of instant advertising success! But you’re not. Because you’re drunk on numbers that aren’t translating into an increase of sales that even justifies the cost of your online advertising.
It’s OK though! I get it. DRUNK PEOPLE DO REALLY DUMB THINGS!
Yes, there are exceptions and business categories that were BORN ONLINE… and digital advertising may be a no-brainer. I get that. But I’m talking about the local businesses you can call up and ask for service. Or the ones you can drive to and browse around and see their “things” that they’re selling. This is for the local businesses who have sucked it up with every other type of advertising in their town…and now advertising online is the “hot thing” now…and they just can’t help themselves from throwing money at it.
In what ways are you advertising online? Are you adding a good visual and a strong message that meshes with your Radio or TV campaign? I’m not opposed to that. As long as your ad is actually being seen…and not buried at the bottom of a web page (yet still counted as an “impression”).
OR… did you fall for the ad campaign that annoys the crap out of everyone? You know the one. The MOBILE one where you have to X out of the ad in order to get to the site you’re freakin’ trying to get to! Do you know how many people haven’t even taken the time to read your ad? About 90%. Maybe more. And out of that 10% of viewers who have read your ad…how many were “moved” by your persuasive message? How many of those are becoming big fans of yours because of that online ad? And every time your ad comes up…do they read it every time? Or do they read it just that ONE time (if they read it at all). Yup. Probably just that one time. (Unless your changing the creative of the ad consistently – which you’re probably not)
Oh, and I’m sure you know already that a lot of people accidentally miss the X…and it takes them to your website. That REALLY pisses them off.
So, there’s an app I visit fairly often. It’s a useful app. It’s pretty easy to navigate and get the information I’m looking for. But now…I’m ready with my finger. I know exactly where that X is going to be. Your ad doesn’t stand a chance. Heck, now, your ad doesn’t even annoy me anymore. It’s completely ignored.
But there has to be some use for DIGITAL, right? Well, sure there is. It’s just like a print ad…but it’s online. Remember way back when…when people used to read the newspaper? What kind of print ads worked best? Hmmmm. Here’s how I feel digital advertising works best:
1) When you’re already branded in your area (or people at least know who you are and what you sell)… then you use that digital ad for direct response – like for a Sale or a 2-for-1 deal that you can smack’em in the face with. Or if you’re HIRING. Because if you’re already a respected business in town – then it won’t take a lot of “convincing” to get some warm bodies in the door filling out applications.
2) Any direct response announcement that causes people to want to know more. Maybe it’s a special event. A concert. A new weight loss product. A survey (you fill it out – and get a 50% off coupon at a restaurant or something). A product everyone uses and you slashed the price. A work-at-home career opportunity.
3) As a support vehicle to a consistent Radio or TV campaign (you know I prefer Radio, right?). Maybe you want to use a small portion of your budget to add in some digital advertising. Sure. Go ahead. Just make sure it doesn’t clash with your Radio or TV ads. Keep the same strategy. Now, you’re just adding an extra visual element to your overall marketing campaign. Which is good. It’s not necessary to have success with your advertising…but go for it. Use it as a reminder for people who have already heard your other ads. It’s like an extra “touch”. It can speed up the branding process a little bit.
I feel a digital ad works far far better when it’s combined with a local radio or TV campaign (something with SOUND). Of course, the budget isn’t always available to do Radio or TV right. If that’s the case, and you’re going to try Digital on its own… fist you pray… then you better have a really kick ass, intriguing offer to show me in your online advertisement. You better write a headline that’s so good… it will drive me stinkin’ mad if I don’t click. And then pray some more.
But what are you really searching for? Don’t you just want a decent return on the advertising that you buy?
What the hell do you do though? You’ve tried everything! And none of it works! asd;lfkjerfogihfvdkd@!! #IGIVEUP
Well…here’s your “rehab” moment (cuz you’re drunk, remember?). Make a decision TODAY to treat your customers with more respect and compassion than your competition does. Train your employees to be nicer, smiley-er, “think on their feet” smarter, and whatever other things you can think of that YOU love when you experience great customer service.
THEN… you can try your advertising again. But ONLY after you’ve decided what kind of message people might care about. Now, that you’re treating your customers better…you probably have something to say in your advertising that’s worth listening to. You might have a story to tell that people will enjoy hearing! You can talk about how you’re helping your customers! You can even have your happy CUSTOMERS tell people how much you rock!
If your idea of good advertising is punching a person in the face…and then laying your flyer or business card on their unconscious body, so they see it when they wake up…you’ll always be doing it the wrong way. You’ll always be disappointed. Sober up and start doing it better. It’s not about “impressions”. It’s not about “getting your name out there”. It’s about making an impact. It’s about moving people closer to doing business with you…so when they finally DO need you…they’ll remember how your ads made them feel. And then they’ll buy from you. THEN, when you WOW them with your service, they’ll become a customer for life as long as you hold up your end of the deal…and keep treating them like humans, not “numbers”.
You’re starting to sober up…I know you are!
Non-Fat Advertising bloggity blog
Have you read the book? It will help bust you out of the bad habit of creating (or settling for) boring, ignored, and just plain ineffective advertising. Click Take A Bigger Slice