Originally published February 10, 2006
Some people when they visit a new community look for the typical “touristy” kinds of things. Others wonder if there’s a casino nearby. I study the local ads.

This week I’ve traveled through four major southern cities. As you might expect, I have some advertising observations to share.

Example Number One:
Earlier this week I dropped in to visit a radio station because I’m a friend of the program director and morning disc jockey.

While we were catching up, he played an ad for me that had a strong character espousing the client. The character was hammering away the copy points in a way that was nearly impossible to ignore.

The client wants it re-done with a “regular announcer.”

I told him that it was too bad that the client was intent on making the ad less attention getting and less memorable.

When clients insist on making an ad sound like or look like an ad (ie. “professional”) they are effectively insisting that their ad be just like all the others.

Estimates are that Americans ignore nearly 3,500 advertising impressions a day. Shouldn’t we be working to make our ads less like everyone elses?

And please note that I’m not suggesting being different for the sake of difference. As the great jazz bassist and composer Charlie Mingus said “Anybody can play weird; that’s easy. What’s hard is to be as simple as Bach. Making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.”

Example Number Two:
Ads that have attorneys screaming, “I’ll FIGHT for YOU. I’ll get you the money you deserve for your pain and suffering.” are probably running in most markets across the country. Does the same guy produce them all? They all appear to have the same script.

This is transactional marketing taken to an extreme.

Sobering thought: these ads must be producing results for the lawyers to keep running them in prime time.

Example Number Three:
You can’t build a positive image by piggybacking on someone else’s slogan. In a single community over the last thirty days I’ve witnessed “Got Insurance?” “Got Real Estate?” “Got Teeth?”

Honestly, what do you think of these variations on “Got Milk?”

Are you driven to do business with them?

Do you get the feeling that these various businesses are able to solve your problems?

Or do you suspect that they have nothing to offer, and are trying to cash in on someone else’s notoriety?

Example Number Four:
Why do the graphic artists who compose yellow pages ads insist on putting the client’s logo as the headline? I have the Memphis Bell South yellow pages open in front of me as I write this. I’m looking under landscaping.

Here are the headlines.

Bob Hollandsworth Landscape
Complete Lawn & Landscaping Service
Designscapes By D
Growth Spurts Landscape And Irrigation
Landscape Creations, Inc.
Paradise Allscapes
Tee Time Landscape
Total Yards Landscaping

Yes, I’m aware that these are the names of the businesses. That’s the point.

It appears each of these companies is proud of their name. Unfortunately, as a shopper, I want to know what they can do for me. I’ll fix ‘em for making me do all the work. I’ll ignore ‘em.

Now, among all of these easily-forgettable ads are two that hint at the ability to help me.

When Skies Are Blue, We Rain – Blue Skies Irrigation

From Concept To Completion, Your One-Source Solution For A Beautiful Landscape – Pugh’s Landscaping.

Better, but I still have to think about them in order to see the advantage to me, the buyer.

Therefore, the winner is clearly:

Give Your Yard An Exciting New Look – Germantown Landscape Company


At last, a clear promise of benefit. I now know what’s in it for me.

Take a peek at your yellow pages ads. If the headline is your company’s name, you’re wasting money.

Final Example And Observation:
You probably shouldn’t assume that everyone knows how to find your store. “The oldest, ugliest building on Tanner Road” doesn’t mean anything to anyone who doesn’t know which section of Tanner Road to look in to find your store.

Cleverness like this can actually cost you business. If you make shoppers solve a puzzle in order to respond to your ads, they’ll take the easy way out and file you permanently under “ignore,” which doesn’t work well when you’re fishing for customers.

Your Guide,
Chuck McKay

” href=”https://fishingforcustomers.com/wp-content/uploads/2006/01/Chuck.jpg”>Marketing consultant Chuck McKayYour Fishing for Customers guide, Chuck McKay, gets people to buy more of what you sell.

Got questions about making your ads stand out and get noticed? Drop Chuck a note at ChuckMcKay@ChuckMcKayOnLine.com. Or call him at 304-523-0163.