I saw a billboard the other day. It was for a dentist. The background was white. And it said, “This board used to be yellow.” Along with the dentist’s name and logo. Do you get it? (chortle, chortle)
Here’s me… major eye roll. They’re going to be highly disappointed with the return on investment of this billboard, I’m afraid.
Is “This board used to be yellow” CLEVER? Yes. It’s clever. But it’s a message wrapped in a bad “strategy”. Want to know why? Because do you know ANY dentist who can’t make the claim of giving you a whiter smile? No. All of them can. So, is this dentist offering anything unique or revolutionary? Far from it. They’re saying something that every dentist is saying in their advertising. Such as:
- For a brighter smile…
- You smile is your most important feature.
- Free teeth whitening with every visit.
- When you want a sensational smile…
I could go on with a bunch more cliché-ish type of phrases. But you get my point about “strategy”, right?
Sidenote: This “yellow-to-white” idea could actually have a chance of working – but not like they’re doing it. Read on…I’ll get to that…
The best strategy would be centered around something that you do or that you offer in which none of your competitors can. But that’s not always possible. So, that means you have to hang your hat on a core message that is NOT getting talked about by all of your competitors. Or at least not being talked about in the same way.
By the way, whether you’re a plumber, jeweler, motorcycle dealer, or whatever…this all applies to you. I got started on dentists because of that damn billboard I saw. Sorry. But let’s continue…
Dentists seem to be a dime a dozen (just like many other categories). So, in order to be successful, you’re going to have to be pretty spectacular. And advertise in a much different way. OR…just be happy with the few people you get trickling in from your small, immediate area. One way to stand out could be to specialize in an area…
You could focus on kids dental. Of course, you accept adults, too, but why not create a whole campaign around just the kids? (because you all know how parents these days are freakazoids about their children) Or some have decided to specialize in sedation dentistry (for the folks who have panic attacks and throw up whenever they even HEAR the word “dentist”).
But if specializing in something specific is NOT your bag…your strategy still should be based on what you think you can do better than your competition. And more importantly, that strength better be something consumers really care about and could potentially come to LOVE YOU FOR.
What’s an area of service that many of your competitors seem to fall short? And is that weakness frustrating to their customers. That’s a great place to attack. Maybe it’s “long wait time”. Or too painful. Or grumpy dentists and hygienists. Uncomfortable chairs, dingy waiting rooms, low-tech equipment, etc.
You know your industry. You know where your competition is falling short and where you may be able to stick in a wedge in order to gain some “marketing leverage”.
So, back to the dentist’s billboard. It may have had potential if there was a REASON that the billboard was “whiter”. Maybe they have a brand new, simpler method of whitening teeth. Maybe they can whiten teeth faster. Who knows? But if they just whiten teeth like everyone else… (in the words of motivational speaker, Matt Foley) WELLL! LA-DEE-FRICKIN’-DA!
Whoever came up with the clever dentist billboard ad…most likely thinks that “clever” is what advertising is about. But they’re wrong. “Clever” won’t cause someone to become your customer. Or any other cutesy play on words. Especially…when it’s only on a billboard. Boom. I’m out. But wait…
How could we salvage that ad campaign?
Here’s what I would do – I would create a humorous TV advertising campaign with the same “it used to be yellow” theme…to go along with the billboard (or completely scratch the billboard). Here’s how it goes…
Someone’s walking into the dentist office…just as this guy in a sweet, 70s-style, polyester BRIGHT WHITE suit is coming out. As they pass each other…he says, as he tugs on his collar, “This used to be yellow.” He may or may not also have a toothpick in his mouth and some righteous Elvis shades.
The next TV spot is the SAME thing except the person coming out could be a little girl in a bumblebee costume that’s black and white striped. And she is NOT happy, sister!
OMG there are so many possibilities. Heck, the whole concept could probably run as long as the Tom Bodett-Motel 6 ad campaign. FOR-EV-ER.
This type of creative concept will STAND OUT among a sea of competition. And among an ocean of boring, crappy ads. BUT… you’re gonna want to have some sort of logical hook in the ad as well. Meaning, either a guarantee of some kind, or something different about you that will tip people off the fence after you get them laughing.