Clever Advertising: Nope, It Still Doesn’t Work

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.

dentist advertising

Authentic Non-Fat Advertising artwork.

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.

Duane Christensen

Worth Listening To

advertising, marketing, ads, messageWatching an episode of Gang Related, some dialogue caught my ear.

The gang leader’s son was whining because he was in a wheelchair after being shot and saying ‘what can I do’? One of the top guys told him to start using his brain.

Then he says something like, “But Dad doesn’t ever want to hear what I have to say.”

And the other says to him, “You just need to say something worth listening to.”

THAT, my friends, is exactly what I’m trying to tell you about your marketing and advertising. Nobody’s going to listen if you’re yappin’ about the same ol’ crap that nobody cares about. But when you start saying things in your marketing messages worth listening to…then, you’ll start seeing results.

No matter what it is…

  • Your sales pitch
  • Your YouTube video
  • Your radio ad
  • Your digital ad
  • Your inner voice
  • Your social media posts

Start saying something worth listening to. Don’t blame your bad results on something that doesn’t deserve the blame.


KEEPING THEM (Your Grade A Customers)

How Are You Keeping in Touch with Your Customers?

I’m a sales & marketing guy. I have customers. But not as many as you, I bet. I take care of anywhere from 15 to 30 customers at any given time. Month in and month out. I see them as often as I can. I should see them more than I do. I write ads for them and manage their advertising placements. And I usually write new ad copy for them every month, keeping their story as fresh as I can. So, it’s basically pretty automatic for me to keep in touch with them fairly well. But I could do more. And I bet you could too.

You probably have a lot of customers. Which makes it harder to stay in touch with them all. And they might not buy from you very often. But you need to remind them that they’re one of your special customers. You need to help them remember you when they want to buy again. You need to make them know that they are important to you. Because they are, right? If a customer slips through the crack…then you’re losing ground.

And what if by keeping in touch with your customers, they’d buy from you more often? That would be nice, wouldn’t it? They might not even know about all of the services you provide. Remember snail mail? It’s kind of exciting to get something in the mail these days when it’s not a bill. But there’s one big thing you may not be utilizing. Email. It’s a great way to cheaply “touch” your customers. Just don’t try to sell something to them all of the time. Ewwww. Be strategic and thoughtful about your emails. And don’t overdo it. Once a month maybe?

What about newsletters? Are you at least sending a quarterly newsletter? No, not your brochure. Something with value inside. Tips and stuff. Interesting facts. New information. Gratefulness. Humor. And even something personal. Maybe a secret recipe passed down from your Great Grandma.

Why is it important to stay in touch with customers?

Because you have competitors clawing and scratching for their business. They want YOUR customer’s money. Your customers are constantly being seduced. Constantly. Yes, you may think they’re loyal. But they’re only loyal until they feel they might get treated a little more special by someone else. Sure, price can be a factor. But not as much as making a customer feel appreciated and like they’re part of your circle.

So, how long has it been since you’ve reached out to your past customers? Too long? I know you’re busy. But you need to get something to them. It doesn’t have to be perfect…but it’s good if it’s presented well. There are companies out there that can help you with this. They make it pretty easy actually. I just want you to make the decision to start keeping in touch with your customers today. Keep more of them. Get them to buy more often. Make them happier more often. And business will be good.

Have a groovy day!

Duane Christensen


Small Business Advertising

Small Business Advertising

So, there’s only one rule you need to follow with small business advertising. Just kidding. It’s a nightmare out there. You’re being told to do this and do that…and one thing seems to contradict the next.

Small Business Advertising Choices

You have too many choices…and too many people telling you things that don’t really matter when it comes to ROI.
Image courtesy of “Stuart Miles” /

Oh. My. Goodness Gracious. Mary Joseph and the Baby! It’s so confusing, right? What can you do? What is the answer?

You can go ahead and do everything that a so-called “advertising guru” tells you to do. But they better be informing you about what matters. What matters, you say? What is it that will make your ads perform? Is it social media? Is it online ads? Is it TV? Is it Radio? Well……..where you put your ads doesn’t matter as much as you think it should. Your decision on where to invest some ad dollars ranks pretty far down on the list when it comes to whether or not you’ll get a decent return on investment.

Hang on a second though. Let me just share this little stat with you regarding online ads. Verify it for yourself if you wish, but “82% of online ads are ignored”. Of course, statistics always tend to get twisted. But this one seems about right to me. 82% ignored! Duh, right? Didn’t we already know that? Didn’t we know it deep down in our bellies? A brilliant colleague of mine put it kind of like this the other day… “How many small business advertising success stories have you heard of where digital advertising was the epic hero?” None? Me too. I clicked on one the other day, just for fun. It was for a local realtor. First, it was a coupon for a free market analysis. Free? Really? When’s the last time a realtor told you they’d come out and take a look at the home you wanted to sell…but it would cost you $149? Then, it gave hum-drum info about the realtor. Something that was just about as cookie cutter as you can get. This realtor is going to get zero return on his online advertising investment. And the majority of all the other online ads out there are just as bad…or worse. Or money-making scams. Yuck.

Stop! Wait! I’m just making a point. Don’t get your britches all bunched up yet. Guess what? There’s a pretty huge percentage of radio, TV, print, billboard, etc. that also goes unnoticed. What’s my point? I can make any kind of advertising work…or not work.

The truth is…no matter where you advertise, if you’re not saying anything that people might actually care about, then your frustration will continue.

Let’s get back to what matters when you’re thinking of pumping money into some local advertising options…

It’s the guts of the ad itself that matters. It’s the feelings you stir in a person that matters. It’s the connection you make with your carefully chosen words, pictures, sound, etc. Oh, but you think if you slap an ad out there in front of 20,000 people, that “someone just has to bite”, right? You’d think so…but it doesn’t work that way. If you feel that WHERE you put an ad is the most important part of advertising…you’re going to be let down.

Is there a Small Business Advertising formula?

Keep reading below…

Small Business Advertising

Small Business Advertising doesn’t come with a nifty formula for ROI.
Image courtesy of “khunaspix” /

That would be super fantastic. You plug in x dollars and get y in return. If that was the case, an ad writer like myself would be out of business. I better call Dad and see if he has room on the family farm for me! But wait! There’s hope for my career in local advertising! Why? Because small business advertising is a little bit of an art. Plus some strategy. Then, sprinkle on some repetition; Stir in a handful of emotional hot buttons; Plus some passion for success; A desire to improve and innovate; And then a competitive spirit as a garnish to your “formula”. Ta-da! Boom! ROI here we come!

Oh my gosh. Seriously? That’s what it takes? Kind of. But you don’t “get it” all at once. You just start with one improvement at a time. You should honestly look at your advertising and ask yourself if anyone would really give a hoot if they encountered it. Better yet, grab someone off the street and ask them. You need an unbiased opinion. Someone who can give you un-sugar-coated advice for the greater good of your business success.

Heck, shoot your ads my way. I’ll give you the what-not on your current advertising. I won’t hold back. And I’ll tell you why something is good…or why something isn’t so good. Or completely rotten and ridiculous. Don’t take it personal though. You probably don’t even know me. Hey, maybe your advertising is superb and you’d just like to verify it. : )

Small Business Advertising No-Nos

You can start saying better things in your ads to improve performance. But maybe the first step I would suggest is to just burn all the bad stuff first. The bad stuff is anything that seems to be all about you. All the flim-flam that’s kind of bragging about what you do or sell. Don’t be alarmed, we can maybe add a few of those dopey things back in later. Start there though. You might not have any copy left in your ad after you do that, maybe you will. So, what’s left, I’m assuming might be verbiage about the person you’re trying to communicate with – your potential new customer – your target. That’s the stuff you want the majority of your ad to be. It needs to be about THEM. It needs to talk to your target directly, like you’re face-to-face with’em. It needs to get their attention, engage, entertain, and offer a solution for when they need your product or service. I don’t care if you need a branding type of ad or a direct-response ad. It better be about THEM – not you.

Has anything really changed over the years regarding how to make advertising work? Not really. It’s always been about engaging your target audience and getting them to fall in love with your company before they even meet you. The major thing that has changed in small business advertising is that we’re stretched thin. We’re busy. We’re distracted. At least 2000 other companies in your area are trying  to get a consumer’s attention these days. We’re bombarded with advertising crap. And one of the big reasons your average little local ad isn’t working is because we’ve all been burned or are sick and tired of dishonest and misleading advertising claims. We’re super skeptical! You say you’re a quality business? Ha! So, does everyone else. And their service sucks. But yours doesn’t (right?), so you have the potential to relay your awesomeness to the public.

I’m just trying to get you to understand why the content of your ad matters. You have to make some kind of emotional connection. You have to get across your trustworthiness…without saying, “We’re the people you can trust.” Or maybe you hang your hat and bet the farm on your ultra-witty slogan, “For all your blankity-blank needs.”  If you do, that slogan isn’t doing you one bit of good. But you’re in luck! Because we can make big things happen for you in a hurry. When your advertising is so bad (don’t think it’s you? – look again)… you’ll see faster dividends when you start saying things in your ads that people might actually care about.

Another no-no in my opinion…
Don’t start spreading your budget around to 20 different ad mediums. That’s 5% of your budget here, 5% there, and so on. You think a good “Media Mix” is what you need…but when you sprinkle your budget around so thin, nothing will ever stick or sink in.

What do you do next? I don’t know. I wrote a book. You could download it for $6.49 (quick, cheap sales pitch).

Where to put your ads? That’s up to you. As long as there’s an audience there…then there is potential for ROI. But you have to engage your target. It can’t be like the national brands that we’re all familiar with. I’m assuming your small business doesn’t have the level of top of mind awareness like the big companies who have multi-million-dollar ad budgets. Start somewhere with a smaller audience if you have to. Win them over first. Start on one or two radio stations. How about some TV spots in a few popular shows? How about getting a digital ad (with a powerful message) in front of 200,000 eyeballs a month? You don’t have to reach everyone. You start where you can afford to air your ads enough times each week so that people will start to remember you and trust you. Maybe you’re already doing something now. Do you know if it’s working? Maybe some small tweaks can jumpstart some response for you.

Better yet…I’d rather get a few detailed questions from you about your unique situation. I’ve got some time here and there outside of my daytime marketing job (not really, but I’m twitchy and need new challenges every once in a while) …and I kind of just like to help people out. Or it least head you down a better path.

You can start making your small business advertising a lot better, almost immediately, with only a few small changes.

Merry Christmas, Buy From Us!

Merry Christmas from all the staff at BoonDog’s. And may all your dreams come true in the year to come. Don’t forget that 20-piece ratchet sets are on sale through December and for every $100 you spend, you get a free $5 gift card.

I heard way too much of those kinds of ads this holiday season.

I never recommend to my clients that they should do a “holiday” type of ad. Either advertise your business in your ads, or do your holiday message, but don’t combine the two. Don’t be that person. Don’t be the one who thinks, “Hey, if we tell them Merry Christmas, they’ll think we’re kind and a great place to shop. Then, we can tell them about our Sale going on or all the products and services we have to offer that they might not know about.”

I don’t mind holiday themed ads. As long as you’re conservative with them. And as long as they’re creative and serve a purpose for your sales message.

I do some of them myself once in a while. For example, a body shop. What’s the biggest season for fender benders? Hunting season? No. Football season? Nuh uh. Shopping Season…

But back to whoring out the holidays in your advertising. You see it on social media a lot, too. Businesses using every trick they can think of to get you to like or share something.

“If you can find our logo on Baby Jesus’ manger, share this picture and comment ‘I found Hoozbit’s logo!’ Then, you’re entered into our drawing to win a slap in the face”… or something.

We’re a big fan of Christmas music in our home. Especially, my 6-year old daughter. There’s a radio station that starts playing all Christmas music the day after Thanksgiving. So, I’d find her radio tuned in to that station quite a bit. It’s adorable. But then, I hear that station’s commercial breaks through December and realize they probably had quite the Christmas Radio Ad package for local advertisers. It was probably just too good to pass up. “We’d be stupid not to!” Too many holiday and Christmas messages slapped together and pimping out Christmas for their own benefit (wishful thinking). I’m not a fan. PLUS…if I ever want my daughter to get into the advertising or copywriting biz…I don’t need her hearing such awful examples of advertising, right!??!

If you want your advertising to stand out. Be authentic. Be real. If you want to touch someone’s heart with your advertising, that’s great. You should be doing that ALL YEAR LONG. But hijacking Christmas for your back door sales pitch in your ads isn’t the way you do it.

Have a great day! Especially if you deserve one!

Duane Christensen

Non-Fat Advertising


Mouthing Off About Internet Advertising

Image courtesy of "Stuart Miles" /

Image courtesy of “Stuart Miles” /

Internet Advertising is so hip, man!

But is it the right thing for you?

I’m going to mouth off a little bit about Internet advertising. Good for some. Not so good for most – in my opinion.

I’m afraid Internet Advertising is going to be ineffective for a lot of small to medium-sized businesses – the local ones who are selling to local customers.

A business owner’s obsession with metrics and data is a good thing usually. But not with all advertising. That obsession makes a business owner LOVE Internet advertising. They drool over analytics. They say, “YES! Finally, I’ll know if it’s working or not!”

Attempting to turn advertising into a mathematical formula is like the dog chasing his tail.

I feel if they see ANY number (impressions, clicks, etc.) they’re pretty happy about it. They’re finally getting to SEE some ROI. Or what they think is ROI. “Internet Advertising is hip and cool and shiny and trackable! We’ve finally found our marketing secret weapon! We knew there was a perfect formula out there somewhere!”


How many Internet ads have you ever clicked on? Seriously.

I’m on the web a lot. ALL I get…is ANNOYED by most ads. The others are ignorable. Don’t get me wrong…there are TV, Radio, Billboard, Print and other forms of advertising that perform just as bad and are just as annoying. But I feel that businesses are thinking that Internet Advertising is the next best thing since the invention of the Keurig.

But it’s not. It’s just an advertising platform. It’s pretty close to Print advertising. You’re trying to get people’s attention visually and then say something in that ad that will make them take that next step towards buying a product or doing business with you. The only difference with Internet ads is that the person can go directly to a website or a special landing page of some kind.

The techies get it. The global online business people get it. It works when you do it right. BUT…it doesn’t work for the majority of the brick and mortar businesses. It CAN. But they’re not doing it right. They’re either trying to use it for Branding…which won’t work… OR they’re using it for direct response. But they never figured out how to make direct response work in their print ads – so why do they think it will all of a sudden work online?

I was searching for a specific West Coast business one day. And a local business ad popped up on the side of the website I was on. And it had no relation to what I was searching for. It’s part of their “media mix” and “branding” plan. It was annoying. That’s just really bad Internet advertising. That’s a waste of money in my opinion.

Are there good Internet advertising tactics? Sure. But the majority are doing it horribly wrong. A lot of money is being thrown in the toilet because of obsessions with analytics and numbers. That obsession is not good in every aspect of business.

For local businesses who are searching for customers locally…I’ll take an entertaining, sincere, and informational radio ad campaign any day. The power of the spoken word is incredible. 30 or 60 seconds of the right words can start moving mountains. The right words can start causing people to understand why you’re a great local company. You can tell your story. You can tell your customers’ stories. You can paint a picture of trust and competence with Radio.

TV is great for things that really need to be shown visibly. I’m not talking about visual products like diamonds and furniture…but products that need to be demonstrated. Or visual products that people can’t see in their mind very easily. Maybe you build awesome custom glass shower surrounds. You’ll probably have some luck with TV. But I might opt to side-step TV and replace that idea with good YouTube videos. A ton of them. Then, when people are searching for your product…BOOM…there are all your videos showing up in the online search. It depends on whether people know about what you offer. Maybe nobody is even searching online for what you offer because it’s so new or unique.

The power of sound is too big and bulky to ignore. If you’re not using it in your advertising, you’re missing out. It’s so powerful for branding and stirring emotions within your prospects. And that’s important when you’re trying to attract a new customer.

And “Media Mix” is getting even more watered down with the popularity of Internet Advertising.

“Let’s take some budget from our other 37 advertising investments and put that pot towards some internet ads!” Now, your advertising is spread even thinner. For a small local business, stay away from “Media Mix”. Put your budget into one advertising medium with sound…and start there. Grow from there. Own ONE audience first. Win that audience over – don’t sprinkle your ads to them – douse them. And I’d start with Radio. Not Pandora. Real radio. The listeners are there. And they are there consistently every single day. Why aren’t you talking to them?

All you have to do is find the right things to say in your advertising messages. Need help with that? Let me know. I can either help you out or get you pointed in the right direction.

And before you unleash your budget on Internet Advertising, do some research. Is it right for you? Your situation is unique – advertising isn’t a one size fits all endeavor. If you have questions about it, just let me know. I’d be happy to discuss with you over email or phone.

Have a great day!

Duane Christensen

Non-Fat Advertising


Kicking Ass With Your Road Signs

Eau Gallie Veterinary Clinic GETS IT. Oh, boy do they get it.

They say they put messages on their sign like the ones in the picture here to get the attention of drivers and to get their point across.

Did you catch that?

  • Get the attention of drivers
  • Get their point across

Isn’t that the goal of ANY advertising? First, you need to get attention. THEN…you need to get your point across. And hopefully the point you’re trying to make is a good one and you can increase sales because of it.

Road SignsOh…I WISH I could have my own road signs to create messages for passer-bys!

Don’t let that space go to waste. Humor is good. Be different. Get attention and get your point across. Kudos to this business! They have people who stop and take pictures of their sign.

And make sure you change it up every couple of weeks. Or every week. Keep it fresh. Make people WANT to read your sign!

What? You’re afraid you’ll offend people? If you’re not offending SOMEONE…then you’re advertising is being ignored by EVERYONE. That’s an advertising RULE! Or it should be anyway.

So, stop telling me that “Our pizza is the best in town!”  Or “Get ready for summer with an A/C checkup!” (when it’s already October).

Please tell us something that gets our attention and that gets the point across. In EVERY aspect of your marketing. Use that advertising space wisely. You’ll be surprised with the results when you figure out how to talk to your prospects in a manner that makes them remember you.

Have a groovy day!

Duane Christensen

Non-Fat Advertising blog

Owning an Audience with your Advertising

Owning an Audience (versus a weak media mix)

Image courtesy of "Danilo Rizzuti" /

Image courtesy of “Danilo Rizzuti” /

Last time, we talked about Media Mix. If you don’t have the dollars of a large biz who can buy 12 radio stations, 6 TV stations, 15 billboards, newspaper, online, etc., then a “media mix” isn’t going to do you much good.

So, what can you do if you shouldn’t be spreading your ad dollars around to a bunch of different ad mediums?

It’s called OWNING AN AUDIENCE. If you’re going to advertise somewhere…then BE there. Don’t sprinkle an ad here and there. Douse them. Flood them with your advertising message. Don’t hope and pray someone hears or sees your ad. Make SURE of it!

What are you trying to do with your advertising?

Do you have the staying power to do it right with a consistent advertising schedule? Week in and week out? Then, pick a radio station or a TV program and BE there. Own the audience. Be one of the biggest advertisers in your category on that station or program. Then, you’ll KNOW that your message will be heard. Be somewhere where you can share your ad message (and share your business goodness) to the same respectably-sized audience week-in and week-out. Teach them about your wonderfulness. Tell them how you’ll make their lives better. Share stories which causes that audience to start trusting you more than they trust your competition.

But if you’re starting out with a smaller ad budget, you might have to just advertise a few special offers periodically until things get rolling a bit more and you have some good cash flow. I’m not saying slash your prices and kill your profits. I’m saying create some special offers. Add extra value to the sale. Don’t train people to wait for sale. You’ll be shooting yourself in the foot. This is direct response advertising. And print works pretty well for that. Radio can too. Just make sure it’s a good offer and get their attention with a really good headline that lays it all out there. Don’t mince words.

But whatever you decide to do…own an audience. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you HAVE to reach EVERYONE. Only the companies with really deep pockets can do that.

If you’re advertising consistently somewhere (with a heavy enough ad schedule), after a few months, you’ll start to stick in people’s heads more and you’ll see some consistent new business. Once your revenues go up and stay up, then you’ve just been given a bigger ad budget. Now, you can tap another audience. Add another TV program. Add another radio station.

Here’s what I’ve seen that works really well…

If you find it that TV works for advertising your product or service…great. It’s hard and expensive to do really good TV, but it can work wonders. If you have a good ad campaign, then keep adding TV programs as your ad budget rises. You’re adding more audience. Audience to OWN.

If you find a good radio ad person and radio company who knows how to do Radio different and effectively…great. Then, add more radio stations as your advertising budget grows. You’re adding more audience. Audience to OWN.

There are “professionals” out there who should be kicked…

Those who say you HAVE to advertise on a whole slug of different advertising mediums in order for your local advertising to work…should be kicked in the shin. Or wherever else you might consider kicking them. You don’t have to do the “media mix” thing. First of all, if you’re a smaller business, you can’t afford to do it right. Secondly, experimenting with a bunch of different advertising mediums at the same time will create huge headaches for you and you won’t even know what’s working and what’s not. Even if an ad agency tells you that you HAVE to do multiple ad mediums…kick THEM too.

Sure…maybe you get to the point where you’re on 3 or 4 Radio stations and things are going really well…and you want to add in something else like some digital advertising. Or maybe you have a TV spot made and try it on a popular TV program for 6 months or so. I understand. I’d probably want to do the same thing. But then again, if you figure out that something is working really well…just add MORE of that THING. You’re doing 3 radio stations? Add another. And another. You’re on the evening news? Add the morning news. Add a primetime TV program. And a few sporting events.

Just don’t ever schedule your ads too thin across too many ad mediums. You’ll get far more return on investment when you shower an audience. Douse them. Own the audience.

“Media Mix” is one of those topics I get frustrated with. I see too many billboards for companies where I’ve never heard an ad for them on the Radio or seen one on TV. Your billboard should be used as a quick reminder for your Radio or TV campaign. And if you DO have billboards up and you ARE airing radio or TV ads, but I’ve never heard those radio or TV ads…that means your media mix is too thin. It means you should pull the boards and beef up the Radio or TV. Why? Because you can’t change many minds with 8 words on a billboard. But 30 or 60 seconds of the spoken word can move mountains.

I hope I’m making some sense. I tend to ramble and get all twitchy on certain topics. Have a great day!

And if you have some of your own insight or questions…let’em rip. Thank you.

Duane Christensen

Non-Fat Advertising blog

Making Sense of Media Mix

Making Sense of Media Mix

Making Sense of Media Mix

Image courtesy of “John Kasawa” /

I get it. I understand that you’d love to spread your advertising around to all sorts of different advertising mediums…so you can “reach” as many people as possible.

Here’s a typical “media mix” (not necessarily effective) for a small to medium-sized local business:

1 or 2 radio stations

1 TV station (maybe scheduled on the morning or evening news)

OR a Cable TV rotator package

4 or 5 billboards

An ad here and there in 1 or 2 local magazines

There! You have the majority of the population covered! Great job! You’re a marketing genius…or your ad agency is for sure!

Media Mix Problems

Problem #1:

You’ve spread your ad dollars too thinly. You think you’ve just advertised to nearly everyone, correct? You think, “Hey, if they don’t hear my radio ad, they’re bound to see the TV ad or maybe drive by one of my awesome billboards. And a bunch of people pick up those free magazines in the entrance of the grocery store, right?”

Ummmm…you’d be surprised how many people you missed.

How many different radio stations are there in your market?

How many TV stations and TV programs are there to choose from?

How many different streets are there in town?

How many magazines are saying that you get access to 100,000 people when only 3500 are picking them up?

Problem #2:

Your print and billboard messages are way too vague for anyone to understand the point you’re trying to make. A billboard should reinforce your electronic media’s message (radio or TV). So, when someone sees your billboard they’ve already heard your electronic ad message, and then they immediately remember what they’ve heard in the past from you. It’s just a quick reminder. An extra “impression” on you.

But if your ad budget is spread so thin that most people who see your billboard have never heard or seen your radio or TV spots…then, that message on the billboard is lost. Because you can’t change any perceptions or hope to cause anyone to do business with you just from 8 words on a billboard. And if you’re using more than 8 words on a billboard, it’s not getting read. Remember? Our cars don’t drive themselves! We still have to look at the road most of the time! And whenever we have a spare moment we’re looking at our phone to see what new email or text we just got.

So, that high traffic street your billboard sits on isn’t doing you much good. Not worth the cost of it anyway.

And I better mention your magazine print ads too. You better be using print ads for direct response (a sale, special offer, etc.) because using print for “branding” or “awareness” is pretty tough. Especially the ads that I see where it’s a logo, lame and cliché slogan, and maybe a phone number or website. THAT is not being noticed. If you don’t put a headline on your ad that makes me curious or say “What the hell is that all about?”… or use something other than a clipart pic of a thin smiling woman with overly white teeth… then your ad is NOT being digested.

I’m probably wrapping multiple problems with your “media mix” into just a few, but I never claimed to be the most organized writer. :-)

Media Mix Problem #3:

The majority of businesses have TOO WEAK of an overall message or strategy behind their advertising and marketing. Meaning that even though you might have a general point you’re trying to make (or a sales pitch), it’s usually too general, cliché, soft, and you’re telling people things in your ads that we do not care about. Don’t you think it’s crucial that your ad messages be something that your “target prospect” might actually CARE about?

We don’t keep reading things or listening to things that bore us. Or that does not give a hint of being able to improve our lives, solve a problem, teach us something interesting, or entertain us.

Here it is…are you ready for this? People don’t care about your business.

They don’t. They’re not waiting in complete excited anticipation to read or hear your next attempt at wooing them into your business so you can sell them crap. They’re not. People are looking for contentment, happiness, entertainment, etc. They’re not looking for their next fabulous opportunity to be “sold to”.

That is WHY what you SAY in your ads are so important. You have to sneak your sales messages in between things that audiences care about. You have to tie your “humorous” ad message into the selling point within your ad. Or make it relate to your business in some way. You have to tell a story that would WANT to be heard. And you have to tell it in a way that makes people wonder what you’re going to say next.

Your message matters MOST. So, before you decide to go for that “Media Mix” that’s probably spread even thinner than my example… you should figure out what kinds of things you could say to your prospects that might MOVE THEM closer to doing business with YOU instead of one of your competitors.

When you want to convince someone to do something…do you yell at them? Or is it maybe more effective if you asked nicely. Wrap your request around and through a story that will help keep attention and make your point more effectively.

Problem #4:

I don’t have a problem number 4 right now. As I’m typing this, I think there are probably 10 or 12 problems with media mix (of course not every circumstance is the same – but most people are being deceived about media mixes – either by themselves or by someone else).

Summary: Even though mixing together a lot of different ingredients can make a good smoothie…you kind of have to know which ingredients go well together…and how much of each.

So let’s stop for now. If you have any comments or questions, I’d love to hear them.

Next time, let’s talk about “owning” an audience. It’s a much better tactic versus spreading yourself too thin with a weak media mix. Don’t be sad. You don’t have to have that infamous all-encompassing media mix. 

Duane Christensen

Non-Fat Advertising blog

I’m a marketing guy and ad writer. This isn’t just about better ads either, it’s also about a strategy to set you apart and help you be remembered (in a good way). I write this marketing blog because I’m on a mission to help you get more from your advertising bucks. 

Radio Kapow

Radio Kapow

When I go out of town, I like to listen to the local radio stations a little bit. Well…not for the music…for the radio ads. It makes me appreciate what I’ve learned about creating good radio advertising.

You see, I work for a radio group that emphasizes the fact that when you create a more engaging, entertaining, relevant, sincere, strategic radio ad, the results from that ad (and the ad campaign) far exceeds what most advertisers have received in the past. Your RADIO ads can actually drive business to you…not just “get your name out there”. Your radio campaign can drive a substantial amount of growth to you. It’s pretty amazing. But I forget the fact that we’ve been trained by so many of the best in the biz…and take it for granted at times.

I get reminded of all of that when I’m listening to other radio stations. The radio salespeople for other radio stations aren’t usually doing any of the ad writing – they just hand some notes off to a creative department who has no invested interest in whether or not the ads actually work. Oh, sure, maybe they’ll crank out something semi-creative once in a while…but there’s usually not much thought put into it. Add humor, clichés, a phone number 3 times and a website URL and you’re golden! It’s a recipe for a slug of radio ads hitting the airwaves that give back literally zero ROI to the advertiser. And if the sales rep DOES write their own ads, there’s usually a lack of training to take those ads to a sufficient level of effectiveness.

Radio Kapow Image courtesy of "digitalart" /

Radio Kapow
Image courtesy of “digitalart” /

Radio advertising (and all advertising) needs to pack a punch. It needs KAPOW! The magic of radio – is that it’s radio. People are already using it for entertainment and information. And it’s free. And we can close our eyes, but we can’t close our ears. So, if there’s an audience there, then all you have to do is say something in your ads that is actually WORTH LISTENING TO. Is it easy? Not really. But that’s what me and my team are for. Our radio salespeople / writers / local business thinkers go above and beyond what you might be used to from the average media company.

Of course, I believe I put an extra dose of KAPOW into my radio ads versus anyone else…but it’s good to be confident, right? Am I elated with everything I churn out? No. There’s always a way to make something better. But according to my clients’ results, I’m doing some good for them. I’m helping their business stand out from their crowd of competition. I’m helping their business name stick on brains.

How does Radio Kapow come about? Well, you have to take what you think is a good radio spot…and then ratchet up the caliber of words you use, stories you tell, and relevance to your target audience. And then you may get close to the point of “shock factor”. You need to shock a little. You need to say things that are unexpected. And you need to say those things in a manner that are believable and real and move a non-customer just a little bit (or a lot) closer to BECOMING a paying customer that you can continue to Wow. And no, that’s not always easy. But EASY is what everyone else does. When you do Radio right…and when the work is put into the effort…then you can have your own Radio Kapow. And that’s when the good times can start to roll for you.

Your radio spots need to REACH for more. They need to be daring. Sure, you’ll be squeamish about saying something on the radio that’s not “typical” or “mainstream” or what I like to call boring and completely ignorable…but you HAVE TO go for “kapow” in our over-communicated society. There’s something new and sparkly around every corner. So, why not be more sparkly and more relevant to someone who could become your next best and most profitable customer?

Radio still reaches the majority of the population, unlike some other forms of advertising. Radio is still a player. The problem with some radio stations is that they’re looking for alternative forms of revenue when they never figured out how to make their bread and butter – Radio – pay dividends. Sure, digital can help. But it needs to be an addition to radio. Digital is just print that moved online. To create a truly memorable brand and move the needle…you need the power of SOUND in your local advertising efforts. And there’s not a better local advertising medium to paint a wonderful picture for your prospects…than Radio. You just need Kapow behind it.

Have a groovy day!

Duane Christensen

Non-Fat Advertising