So, I have this friend we’ll call “Joe.” Joe’s that guy you never want to introduce to a new group of people because you just know he’ll do something to embarrass himself and anyone within a three block radius.
You see, Joe enjoys a good drink now and again…and again…and again…and this invariably results in trouble. Regardless of felonies committed, pummelings endured or restraining orders filed, the next morning, he’s always quick to point out, “yeah, but I bet everybody there remembers me.”
Sadly, clients often espouse this same, “as long as I’m remembered,” mentality without recognizing there’s a dramatic difference between being famous and infamous.
Sure, there are lots of commercials you recall as a result of how pathetically they’re produced, how obnoxious their spokespeople or how cheesy their premise. You may even mention these spots to friends. But that doesn’t mean it’s an effective campaign.
If your commercial is referenced specifically for the sake of ridicule, that’s not being famous, that’s being infamous. The company is remembered, but like Joe, it’s only for the horrible impression it made.
Making a brand truly famous demands thoughtful planning and careful consideration. Develop a marketing message that creates lasting positive impressions among your audience by speaking to them with mutual respect and providing genuine benefits. This may take longer and require more talent than simply slapping together some blaring lights and sirens spot, but the dividends are infinite.
We all do things we regret from time to time, but airing infamous ads is one embarrassment you can ill afford.
Last week, midway through a bag of salted peanuts, I heard a distinctly non-peanuty crunch. A whoosh of cold air followed by my eyeballs leaping from their sockets indicated I had, indeed, just cracked a tooth.
I wandered into the dentist’s office the following day and waited patiently for a chance to see the doc. While in the waiting room, a mid-40s gentleman made his way to the receptionist’s window. I could tell by the stack of magazines under his arm that he was a sales rep for a local publication.
Interest piqued, I listened as he espoused the benefits of their magazine.
“We print 50,000 copies each month. That translates to 120,000 readers. Now, you could put an ad on the radio, but how many people are actually going to hear it? Certainly not 120,000. Most people change the station during commercials anyway.”
Familiar with the publication in question, I knew it was nothing more than a collection of advertorials, devoid of genuine content, the kind you routinely see (and ignore) at businesses advertised within. Still, for a business owner – or in this case dentist – untrained in marketing, the sales guy spun a web too alluring to escape.
$10,000 later, the dentist had a 12-month commitment.
I wondered if the dentist would sit as idly by if she’d seen me extracting my own molar.
I’m constantly amazed by seemingly intelligent business people who choose to manage their own marketing and advertising. You may be the world’s greatest widget manufacturer, but how does that qualify you to determine an appropriate media mix or produce a TV ad?
While business owners are usually savvy enough to hire an accountant to handle taxes and an attorney to circumvent legal woes, advertising seems somehow different. After all, they see/hear advertising messages all the time and think, “how hard could it be?” Lacking the time, training and talent to skillfully craft unique creative, however, they replicate the schlocky work their competitors put out and wonder why business isn’t suddenly booming.
Just like a dentist goes to school to learn about periodontal disease, advertising professionals study research design, audience segmentation and psychological triggers. These lessons are blended with competitive analysis and examination of market trends, yielding invaluable insight into what makes potential customers tick.
Hiring the right advertising agency to develop, implement and maintain your marketing strategy, isn’t an expense, it’s an investment in growth that shows dividends 100% of the time. Just as important, it frees you to focus on what you do best, whether that’s dentistry or widget making.
With the right team of professionals around you, running a successful business doesn’t have to feel like pulling teeth.
I was at a wedding reception a few years ago when one of my dad’s friends split the back of his pants while break dancing. Red as a beet, he retreated from the dance floor smashing into the wedding cake and hurling it into the bride’s mother. That’s only slightly more embarrassing than when middle-aged business people try to incorporate youth culture in their commercials.
Whether genuine or satirical, mom and pop fail when they feature rap, MTV references or “dope beats” in their ads.
Now, raise your hand if you have any interest in buying a used Chevy from or having it insured by these folks.
The most recent embarrassment I’ve found bungles the act of “flash mobbing,” wherein people connect via text, email and social media, meet in public and perform some kind of attention-grabbing act – like a spontaneous pillow fight or splatter painting in their undies. But there’s no “flash” in this mob. It’s all staged. The streets are even closed off except for the performers. Take a look… Gaines Street Tallahassee.
This was clearly the brainchild of a non-ad-pro in his or her 40s or 50s. “I saw on the 20/20 that young people love these ‘flash mobs.’ Let’s have one. I’ll bet my whole Rotary would help.”
Act your age people. Use the right tactic to reach your audience and leave the “neato hippity hop dance moves” and social anarchy to the kids.
For the record, here’s an example of an advertiser using a flash mob the right way. T-Mobile.
It’s the first date. You flirt, you listen, you bat your eyes and picture how grand the future will be. After all, this is one special prospect. Sweet as can be, laughs at all your jokes, has a gorgeous bottom line and says she’s looking for a fella who brings something new to the table.
You set up a second date at your place just days later.
Everything’s ready: subtle lighting, fancy hors d’oeuvres, champagne on ice and a comprehensive campaign of cutting edge concepts alongside traditional, non-traditional and social media tactics. Sexy!
A knock on the conference room door. She’s more ravishing than ever. Small talk ensues – sure is hot outside, how’s the family, did you read AdWeek’s article on Pepsi’s evolving stance on socially responsible marketing executions – but soon gives way to more pressing matters.
Looking into her eyes, you spend 40 minutes laying out how your creative concept will lift her to unparalleled heights of economic ecstasy and how your media tactics will deliver her dulcet tones to those who will want her most.
Certain your words pierced her heart, you pause for reply.
“I like where this is going,” she starts, “but I’m not sure about the color scheme.”
Gulp. The date has taken a turn for the worse.
“Personally, I’m a huge fan of autumn tones.”
Autumn tones, but that doesn’t convey the emotion we’re…
“And could we tweak the TV for more of an X-Games feel? Maybe add in a couple of skateboards?”
The beguiling facade that baited you into this relationship is melting away.
“Sure the social media thing is neat, but it’s really not relevant to what we do.”
This isn’t the person you thought you were courting at all. It’s the second date and she’s already trying to change you. There’s only one thing to do – run.
Too many clients think they can create effective advertising on their own. So, why are they looking for a relationship in the first place? Because nobody likes to be alone. They want someone who will praise them when things go right and accept blame when things go wrong.
Well, that’s not a healthy relationship and you can do a whole lot better.
Find clients who love you for you, who respect your opinions and who value your expertise. Only then will you have the groundwork for a meaningful, trusting, long-lasting relationship.
A friend of mine used to write daily affirmations on his bathroom mirror. Each morning, inspiration stared back at him as he brushed his teeth and combed his hair. No one else ever saw the messages, but he did and, to him, that’s all that mattered. Too often, this mindset carries over into small business advertising.
Small business owners tend to advertise only on stations and in publications they personally enjoy. “Maybe we should focus our advertising on WZZZ: The Snooze. My wife and I listen every night before bed and so does my General Manager.” Now, I’m not going to ask how you know so much about your GM’s nocturnal habits, but I will ask this…“who cares what you listen to?!”
There’s no profit in advertising to you…nor your wife…nor your staff…nor your friends.
You see, – stick with me now, big point coming – advertising is supposed to reach and attract people who would not otherwise spend money with your company. Do you, your wife, your staff or your friends fit that description? Then they’re not your target audience.
Advertising agencies apply metrics to determine the best venues to deliver the client’s message to the appropriate audience. We know how many people ages 35-49, with household incomes of $100k+ listen to The Snooze between noon-3pm on Wednesdays. These are called ratings, which we offset against the cost of placement to determine value.
Your personal preference in radio stations, TV shows, magazines and websites means absolutely nothing. Trust the numbers to guide you to rational decisions that lead to more customers, more sales and more success or the next affirmation on your morning mirror may read, “this will be the best going out of business sale ever.”