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What Media Do You Own?

The one thing I hate about having my house for sale is all the stuff I have boxed up to make the house less cluttered. There are 9 boxes filled with my books sitting on shelves in the basement. Many of those books I have read more than once. A few of them I keep reading over and over.

If you ask me my favorite books, for fiction I’ll tell you The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander—a five book series published in the late 1960’s that I have read over a dozen times, including twice reading them out loud to my boys. You may recall that it was book #4 Taran Wanderer that gave me the lightbulb idea of hiring for character traits, not experience, thus leading to my first book Hiring and the Potter’s Wheel: Turning Your Staff Into a Work of Art.

Image result for wizard of ads trilogyFor non-fiction it is The Wizard of Ads Trilogy by Roy H. Williams. I have never read a book before or after that was as equally enjoyable to read as it was informative. Although not yet to a dozen, I have read all three books several times. In fact, last night I went and pulled book #2 Secret Formulas of the Wizard of Ads out of one of the boxes in the basement.

Yesterday I read an article with ten tips for marketing this holiday season and it had one tip I keep hearing over and over that I know Roy had refuted in the book. The tip was to make sure you are in as many channels as possible this season because otherwise you won’t reach all your potential customers.

Roy calls this one of the sacred cows of advertising in chapter 3 “Dead Cows Everywhere.”

Here are some things I want you to think about before you spread yourself too thin across multiple media.

  • You will never reach 100% of your market. No matter how many channels you choose, you can’t get to them all, so it is folly to even try.
  • You don’t have the time and resources to do every channel well. You don’t have the budget of Coca-Cola or the marketing team of Pizza Hut. At best you have a social media director and a handful of somewhat helpful sales reps running your advertising at your direction (while you juggle all those other hats like HR, CFO, CEO, firefighter, and bottle washer).
  • Advertising and marketing yourself in a channel poorly is not only a waste of time and money and resources, it could be detrimental because a poor first image is worse than no image at all.
  • If you were able to convince just 10% of the market to shop with you, your cash registers would sing like angels.

In one succinct chapter Roy points out that a customer who sees your billboard, hears your radio ad, and reads a social media post likely won’t make the connection between those three fragmented campaigns in a way that reinforces your brand. Our brains don’t work that way. They aren’t wired that way.

You are better off picking one or two channels where you can be truly effective and focus all your time and money and resources on those to the point that you own each media. Yes, own it! There is that one business in your town that owns billboards. You know who I’m talking about. There is another business that owns radio.

If you really want to be noticed and remembered, be the business that owns one of the media outlets. Win Facebook by being the one who posts the most shareworthy and memorable posts that engage and get customers to like, comment, and share. Own the radio by being the business whose ads are actually anticipated and talked about at water coolers when the new ad starts. (When people talk about your ad at the water cooler, then you know you’ve finally written a good one. I’ve had that happen several times. It should be your goal with every message.) Own the billboards by having the kind of posters that people tell their friends to drive by and see.

You likely don’t have the resources to do all that in every channel, so pick one. Own it.

The cool thing when you own a media is that not only do you get more bang for your buck (you become first in people’s brains because you get a bigger share of mind than what you actually spent), you also keep your competitors from being noticed in the same media. They fade into the background or they look boring and dull in comparison.

In the same chapter, Roy kills another sacred cow called Gross Rating Points. Reaching 100% of the market 10 times is the same as reaching 10% of the market 100 times in terms of cost. Yet convincing 100% of the market 10% of the way is not the same as convincing 10% of the market 100% of the way. When you spread yourself over many channels, you face the risk of convincing 100% of the people only 10% of the way. When you own the media, you have a far better chance of convincing the people you reach to shop with you.

There are a lot of great marketing tips out there. Spreading yourself too thin across too many channels is NOT one of them.

If you can’t own a media channel, put your resources where you can. That is what will get the angels to sing.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS It isn’t just how much you spend, it is what you say. Spend enough and speak boldly. Say something surprising and powerful. There are two coffee shops in my town that both use billboards with equal frequency, but one has a far more creative team creating fun and memorable (and sometimes controversial) boards. Ask anyone in town which coffee shop is the one on all the billboards and 90% will name the guy with all the fun boards. You tell me who owns that media?

PPS Here are some of the radio ads I used to try to own that media.

The Aha Moment (Or the Simplest Business Success Formula Ever!)

I’ve been looking at different job titles and job descriptions lately. The two that seem to grab my attention the most are the Marketing & Advertising jobs and the Managing People jobs. At first glance I figured I was drawn to those because those were two of my favorite things to do at Toy House.

Another thought hit me this morning on my drive home from dropping my son off at school.

Those two different jobs are really the same thing. Stop and think about it.

  • Awesome Customer Service is about figuring out your customer’s expectations and then exceeding them with surprise and delight.
  • Top-Level Selling is about figuring out your customer’s needs and then fulfilling them better than she expected.
  • Powerful Advertising is about figuring out your customer’s desires and then offering a solution better than she expected.
  • Amazing Events are about figuring out what your customer likes and then offering her more than she expects when she attends.
  • Incredible Managing is about figuring out what tools your team needs to be successful and then giving them better tools that take them beyond what they thought was possible.

It’s all the same thing.

  1. Figure out what she desires, needs, and expects.
  2. Give her more than she desires, needs, and expects.

That is the formula for a successful retail business. That is the formula for a successful service company. That is the formula for successful manufacturer. That is the formula for a successful advertising campaign. That is the formula for successfully managing your team. That is the formula for being successful as an employee.

The first part requires research. The first part is about studying human nature, watching market trends, thinking like a customer. The first part is about asking questions, listening, and analyzing what you hear. The first part is about testing and clarifying and testing some more. You’ll get it right some times and you’ll get it wrong some times. The better you do your research, the more often you will get it right.

The second part is about having that character trait in you that wants to help others. When you hire and train your team, look specifically for that trait and you’ll find the second part of the formula becomes second nature to your company. Your team will already want to give. You just have to show them what to give.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS An employee that figures out exactly what the boss wants and then gives the boss more than she wants will always have a meaningful job. A manager that equips her team with tools to make them better than they thought possible will always find people wanting to work for her. A marketer that can figure out the true desires of the customer base and speak to those desires will always move the needle. A salesperson who can figure out the exact problem a customer is trying to solve and then offer a solution better than she envisioned will always make more sales. A manufacturer who anticipates the needs of both the end user and the middleman and sets up a business to exceed both their expectations will find growth.

PPS I answered my own question. My Core Values include Helping Others and Education. I already have that character trait of giving (that’s why I write this blog and publish all the Free Resources). The Education side of me wants to do the research to figure out what to give.

How Social Media Advertising Might Be Hurting Your Business

As a speaker I am constantly submitting my talks to conferences in an attempt to get hired. I am also looking at their websites to see what kinds of talks they hosted at their last conference. Time and time again they have speakers talking about how to advertise on social media. Rarely does anyone have talks anymore on how to use radio or build a website or craft an email (even though statistics show email is more effective than social media).

Then today I ran across this little three-minute audio from NPR. Go ahead and listen to it. I’ll wait …

Image result for social media advertisingIt is something I have been saying from the very beginning of the social media craze.

(For those of you unable to click and listen, the gist of the report is about a study done in China. Although promotional ads on social media have a short-term immediate effect of a small boost in sales, they have a long-term effect of driving away followers.)

Roy H. Williams, aka The Wizard of Ads, taught me this back in 2005 and I’ve tested it time and time again and found it to be true. There are two types of customers for every industry—those who believe they are the expert and are shopping on price and those who know they are not the expert and are looking for an expert they can trust.

The former are called Transactional Customers. They look at every purchase as a single transaction with no relation to previous purchases. They believe they are the expert. They know exactly what they want. They will check many different places to find the best price. They are driven by the fear of paying too much. Once they make the purchase, they brag to everyone about what a great shopper they are, but have no loyalty to the store.

The latter are called Relational Customers. They look at each purchase as one in a series of purchases. They do not believe they know all the answers. They are looking for an expert they trust who will steer them to the right item. Their fear is buying the wrong item. While they do not brag much about their purchase, they do love to brag about their store and once they find the person/store they trust, they are highly loyal to that person/store.

The split is pretty much 50/50 in any category (slightly more Transactional in commodity categories like grocery or during economic downturns, slightly more Relational in bespoke categories such as fashion). But since Transactional Customers are more prone to shop around, it feels like more people are “price” shoppers than really are.

When it comes to advertising, promotional ads and discounts are Pavlov’s Bell to Transactional Customers. They love to hear about sales and discounts and promos. At the same time they are fingernails on the chalkboard to Relational Customers. Since RC’s are looking for trust, those same promotional ads not only don’t foster trust, they turn the RC’s off and destroy trust.

Social Media is about building relationships. Social Media is for your fans. Social Media is all about the RC’s. Yeah, you might see a small bump in sales. We are all both TC and RC as consumers, depending on the product. When you run your ad, you find the TC’s in your crowd for that particular product. But at what risk? Run those promos all the time and you drive away the RC’s social media is best at helping you reach.

Here’s my two-minute presentation on Social Media …

Use it to build Trust. Ask questions. Listen to feedback. Post useful information. Answer all questions asked of you. Respond quickly, politely, thoroughly (even the trolls). Build trust. Share information from other sources. Stay true to your Core Values. Write interesting content. Post pictures and videos of your products in use. Build trust. Be honest about the downside. Talk about benefits of the product. Relate to the way people use your stuff. Help your customers picture already owning your product. Post daily with something of value. Post shareworthy stuff. Build trust.

If you want to run an ad on social media, run an ad for your event. Events have deadlines which creates excitement. Events are attractive to both RC’s and TC’s because events imply relationship-building (interacting in a fun way with the brand) and promotions (some kind of discount). You can get the bump without driving people away.

I get it. Social Media is sexy. It is new. It is hip. Everyone is on their phones and online. That’s cool. Just be sure no matter what media you use that you play to that media’s strength.

Now if you ever want to talk about some less sexy things proven to move the needle like radio or websites or crafting an email …

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS In case it wasn’t clear above, TC’s are price-sensitive, only buy what is discounted, and have no loyalty to your store. RC’s are not as price-sensitive and have tremendous loyalty to your store (if you build that trust). The stronger you market yourself to one of these types, the less attractive you become to the other. Pick one and go after them strongly, because half-ass marketing to both is an even quicker way to fail.

PPS RC’s care about price, too. Just not in the same way as TC’s. You can’t gouge the heck out of an RC just because of the relationship. When they find out you’ve been gouging them, you will have destroyed all trust and lost them forever.

Taking My Own Advice

If you ever stopped by my office at Toy House, you saw the frying pans on the wall behind my head. Each one had a hole right through the bottom of the pan.

Target practice?

Nope. Just one big solitary spike sticking straight up out of a board, upon which I slammed each of those frying pans during a presentation.

The demonstration comes from a story I heard ages ago about a copywriter asked to write the ad copy for a big company. I include the story in my new book Most Ads Suck (But Yours Won’t). Here is the excerpt from the book …

A large company wasn’t getting the results they wanted out of their advertising. The company sequesters its marketing team away for the day to come up with a new campaign. After hours of deliberation and debate, the team finally comes up with the twelve most important talking points for the new campaign.

They call in the copywriter.

The team leader starts explaining to the copywriter all the points they need made.

“Point number one, blah, blah, blah. Point number two, blah, blah, blah …”

At this moment the team leader looks up to see the copywriter sitting there doing nothing.

“Aren’t you going to take any notes?”

Silently, the copywriter reaches into a large bag by his feet and pulls out a board with twelve shiny nails sticking straight up out of the board. He lays it down on the table, nails pointing upward. He then takes out a frying pan and slams it down on the bed of nails. The whole room echoes with the sound as the advertising team all jumps backwards. The copywriter then holds up the pan so that everyone can see the pattern of indents from the nails on the bottom of the pan.

The copywriter then pulls out another board. This one has one solitary spike on it. He places it on the table and slams the frying pan down onto this board. The spike impales the pan instantly. The pan goes down flush, stuck to the board.

The copywriter looks up at the startled crowd and asks, “How many points do you want me to make?”

I gave you my resume last week. That’s the whole kit and kaboodle (almost) of all my skills and talents all rolled into one. Out in the world of job applications, however, I am busy applying the Make Only One Point principle to my resume. Depending on the job, my resume will be tailored to include only the relevant information.

If I am applying to a Marketing & Advertising Job you don’t need to see all my Corporate Training experience. If I am applying to a Corporate Trainer job, you don’t need to know that I managed a multi-million dollar inventory. If I am applying to an Inventory Control job, you don’t need to know about the extra training I took at Wizard Academy. I’m trimming it down to the information you need (and providing more detail of that relevant info in the process.)

Make Only One Point works in advertising. It works in blogs. It works in emails. It works in pretty much all persuasive copy. It also works when applying to a job. It also works when communicating with your children. It just plain works. Adopt it and see how your results change.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS One of the benefits I have seen from making only one point in emails is that it eliminates questions going unanswered. People often respond to the first question in an email and rarely even read the second question. Also, it helps people who sort their emails by topic. If you have two points from different topics, you make it difficult for the other person to sort your email in a relevant fashion. Get the point?

PPS The demo is part of the Making Your Ads More Effective presentation. Everyone seems to like that part. They also like the advertising makeovers I do at the end. That’s the real meat. They get to see the six principles put into action. Call me when your group wants to take your advertising to the next level.

I’m Looking For Work

Since closing up Toy House last December I have been writing, speaking, coaching, sailing, selling, and singing for my supper. It has been an interesting adjustment from the steady paycheck of selling toys. It has been filled with highs and lows and stimulating conversations when people ask me how I’m enjoying “retirement.” I’m a few decades away from that word. I need to work.

The past few days I have thrown my hat into the ring for some full-time job openings in southern Michigan.

Yes, I am looking for work. 

This is me. Always smiling. Always ready to help.

Here is my resume: (Please excuse my bragging—that’s what resumes are for, right?)

27 years as a Team Builder: Developed, Organized and Led Team Building Activities utilizing Low and High Ropes Courses, Wilderness & Experiential Activities, and designated tasks to promote better communication, cooperation and trust for groups ranging from adolescents to corporate America. Led and Facilitated Training Programs to teach others to be Team Builders. Wrote and published blogs and articles on Team Building.

24 years as a Purchasing Agent: Created and Managed Open-to-Buy programs for multi-million dollar retail store. Negotiated Terms with Vendors. Made Purchasing Decisions for millions of dollars of inventory. Designed Merchandising Displays including Revamping 16,000 square feet of display space. Led Workshops, Seminars and Webinars on Inventory Management, Pricing, and Financials,

22 years as a Marketing & Advertising Director: Developed and Managed Advertising Budgets between $20,000 and $120,000 annually. Made Advertising Purchases and Created Content for TV, Radio, Newsprint, Billboard, Direct Mail, Email, Facebook, In-Store Signage, Business Flyers, and Press Releases. Conceived, Organized and Hosted several public and private Marketing Events. Made Public Appearances at Networking Events, on Radio, and TV. Built websites for www.ToyHouseOnline.com and www.PhilsForum.com (among others). Led Workshops, Seminars and Webinars on Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations. Wrote book on Advertising called Most Ads Suck (But Yours Won’t).

21 years as an HR Director: Hired, Trained, Scheduled and Managed a team of 12 to 30 employees. Created an Employment Manual and Training Program. Planned, Organized and Led monthly Staff Trainings and Meetings. Led Workshops, Seminars and Webinars on Hiring & Training and Customer Service. Wrote and Published a Book on Hiring and Training called Hiring and the Potter’s Wheel: Turning Your Staff Into a Work of Art. 

27 years as a Speaker/Teacher: I have given over 100 seminars to other businesses, led over 100 training workshops for staff development, facilitated over 100 team building events, conducted over 100 presentations on shopping to customers, and taught over 100 classes for new, expectant fathers at our local hospital.

9 years as a Writer: I have written four books, dozens of magazine articles, hundreds of different advertising content, and 788 blog posts (counting this one.)

I am looking for work.

You can hire me to do Private Coaching, one-on-one, in the area you need the most help. (For a lot of people that has been hiring and training.)

You can hire me to do Presentations and Workshops. My Customer Service presentation takes a unique approach by helping you define each point of contact a customer has with your business and measures your performance at every step along the way. Like my Hiring & Training presentation, this works with any type or size of business. In fact, it was a manufacturer who paid me the highest compliment telling me I had given him the “million-dollar idea” he needed to take his business to the next level (as he flew away on his private jet.)

You can hire me to help you revamp your Marketing & Advertising. Whether temporary as a coach/consultant and/or to help you create new content, or full-time as a Manager or Director, I will bring insights and skills that will move the needle for your business.

You can hire me to Write. My specialty in writing is to teach and persuade. I’m sure you can figure out how to use that in your business.

I’m not a perfect candidate. Most people look at my resume and get hung up on the fact I have Bachelor of Science in Geological Oceanography from the University of Michigan. That was 28 years ago. I barely remember that child (but I still know more about shoreline erosion than anyone really needs to know.)

Or they want to discount the above experiences because I didn’t do it in corporate America. I can see that. Of course, I did all those jobs simultaneously (plus twelve years as CEO and CFO) for a store that in 2009 was named “One of the 25 best independent stores in America!” in the book Retail Superstars by George Whalin. That’s not corporate America, but it does speak to my ability to learn and my ability to stay organized and focused while juggling a lot of responsibilities in a fast-paced environment.

I’d be happy to discuss these and any other reservations during the interview.

I am looking for work. Do you know anyone who can use a guy like me?

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS I apologize if this post sounds too much like bragging. I really do need more work. I want you to know I’m not just a blogger who thinks he knows something about business. I have walked the walk. I have made many mistakes and learned from them. I don’t have the business degree, but I did have the toughest teacher ever—real life! You get the exam first and then you get the lesson. Please share this post with anyone you know who could use a guy like me.

PPS You know my Core Values are Having Fun, Helping Others, Education and Nostalgia. My ideal job is teaching and helping others. It is what I do best and I enjoy it thoroughly. My second passion is marketing & advertising, finding new ways to drive traffic. That and Free Cell are my two favorite puzzles to solve. If the right opportunity comes along, however, I’m game for just about anything that lines up with my values.

The Table Ad That Will Make You Cry

The salesman said something that has stuck in my head for over two decades. “Most people only buy one dining room set in their lifetime. If you buy it right, you have something that is passed down through the generations.”

He was right.

My aunt is still using the table my grandparents bought when she was young. I played cards at my cousin’s house at a table with initials carved in it from family members who were gone long before I was born. My own dining room table is twenty three years old and counting.

True Value created an ad that captures that sentiment perfectly. Watch it here. (Go ahead. I’ll wait.)

Here is the transcript from that ad …

During the depression my grandfather went hungry around this table.
Before leaving for Vietnam my uncle ate one of his last meals in America around this table.
This table has played host to everything from Christmas dinners to Grandma’s bridge tournaments to arguments about politics and sports.
This table has had fists pounded on it, pumpkins carved on it, and babies spit up on it.
Four generations of children have had to sit at this table until they ate all their vegetables, one of them just last week.
This table has a story. This table is a story. And the story doesn’t end any time soon.

This ad hits all the emotions of a dining room table perfectly. This ad is written for the Nostalgia crowd. That’s one of my core values which is why this ad resonates with me. It also fits most of the principles of a powerful ad.

This ad 1) tells a story, 2) speaks to the heart, 3) doesn’t look or sound like any other hardware store ad out there, 4) makes only one point – that we are the store for people who want to restore keepsakes and memories. 5) It speaks to the nostalgia crowd and the do-it-yourself tribe. 6) It covers enough universal memories that it could very well be your own table.

About the only thing it doesn’t do is connect you solidly back to the brand.

By itself, this is a highly emotional ad that makes you think about your own table and all the memories it holds. But it doesn’t make you think about True Value. To do that it needs to be a series of ads with a similar feel that over time will begin to resonate because it will tell an even larger story about the brand.

The important takeaway is that one great ad won’t necessarily move the needle. It is when you craft a series of ads, a campaign with the same style and flair that people come to recognize as you the instant the music or voice or image opens, then the magic begins to happen.

If True Value were to do a series of ads like this over a period of time, they would begin to own the hearts of the Nostalgia crowd. They would get the top of mind awareness for the people who share that sentiment and believe what they believe. They would establish themselves as the brand for those who want to restore and refinish and value the old-style craftsmanship. One ad won’t do that. One ad will make you think of tables. A series of ads gets you to think about the brand.

My favorite compliment about my advertising for Toy House was not about any individual ad. It was when people said they couldn’t wait to hear the next ad. It is the series of ads that truly speaks about your brand and tells your customers what you believe.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS The ad copy is poetry. All great ad copy reads and sounds like poetry. Then again, the poet’s job has always been to take something you already knew, reframe your perspective, and make you feel something. Oh, and the ad-writer’s job is to take something your customers already know, reframe their perspective, and make them feel something. But you already know that.

Breaking Down the Typical Car Ad

My son wrote an amazing car ad right off the top of his head. He did it in response to the boring-to-downright-excruciatingly-bad car ads we were seeing while watching football over the weekend.

You know the kind of car ad I’m talking about.

  1. It starts with a close up of the curves and shiny paint job of some new car while a voice talks in hushed tones about beauty or design or craftsmanship.
  2. Then you see the full vehicle driving on a winding road through the mountains or doing donuts on the salt flats of Utah or cruising through some generic downtown while the words “professional driver on a closed circuit” flash briefly at the bottom of the screen.
  3. Then the vehicle is parked. If it is an SUV it is on top of a mountain with a panoramic view. If it is a sedan or sports car then it is shot from above looking down on the car with a city landscape in the background. (Or in Buick’s case – both!)
  4. Then big numbers flash on the screen with a bunch of small print, and a voice telling you in rapid-fire, small-print kind of speech that if you work for the company you can get some amazing deal on a lease or something like that.

Outside of the testimonial ads*, isn’t that pretty much 80-90% of the car ads out there?

Let’s break down what these ads are telling you.

Scene 1, the opening shot, is supposed to subliminally suggest sex. The hushed tones, the close-ups, the reveal-a-little-but-not-the-whole-thing. Yeah, that’s the tease to get you interested. The problem is that most of the vehicles tend to be morphing into each other to the point you can’t tell them apart without their logo. Right now Mazda is running an ad where the vehicle is completely covered on the outside while people test drive it and then they reveal the logo at the end to the driver’s surprise. If you can’t tell a Mazda from a BMW by the shape of the car, does design really matter that much? For years now Buick has been running ads about how people can’t even recognize that the car is a Buick. So much for design branding.

Scene 2, the driving sequence, shows the car going through its paces, not your paces. You won’t ever get to do donuts on the salt flats or go speeding around traffic-free, hairpin turns in the mountains. You’d like to do that. But you won’t. You aren’t a “professional driver on a closed circuit”. How does it handle stop-and-go traffic during rush hour? How tight is the turning radius for pulling into the parking lot at Costco? How bad are the blind spots when you’re backing up out of the drive? For 99% of the buyers, that’s more relevant than mountain driving, anyway.

Scene 3, the parked vehicle, is the glamour shot. They all finish with the glamour shot. Supposedly this is so you can recognize their car from all the other similar looking cars when you finally go out to buy one. The shot signifies that we are nearing the end of the ad. This wouldn’t be bad if there had been some kind of story coming to an end. This wouldn’t be so bad if it actually was the end. But it isn’t.

The glamour shot is simply the background to Scene 4, the offer. Big, bold numbers and a bunch of fine print showing up telling you that if you work for the company and are approved you can get some version of this vehicle “right now” for only $999 down and $230 a month. This part of the ad drives me crazy.

First, the deal they are offering comes with pages of fine print, the first being you have to be an employee to get this deal. Really? You’re paying millions for this commercial to tell the 209,000 people of GM about a sale just for them? Why not send them an email and save a few million? Otherwise, you’re just telling the 317 million people who don’t work for GM that they will have to pay more.

Second, no one actually gets that deal. No one. The car has too many extra features or you aren’t fully approved with an 850 credit score.

Third, the deal takes away from any of the feelings the ad may have stirred (granted not many feelings, but still …). The ad goes from one about how sleek, sexy, powerful, luxurious, rugged, adventurous, green, and quiet the vehicle is to, “Hey, it’s on sale!!!!” The person looking for a deal doesn’t care about all those other adjectives. The person who cares about those adjectives is less concerned about the deal. The offer waters down the message for both groups.

No matter how you slice it, these ads don’t speak to your heart. They don’t tell you a compelling story. They try to make more points than anyone could remember. They look and sound like everyone else. Ford, GM, Toyota, Honda, Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep, Lexus, Nissan, even Kia are all spending millions without moving the needle.

When you go to create your ads for your business, do me one favor. Don’t fall into the trap of, “Well, the big companies do this so it must be right,” kind of thinking. I’ve just shown you how really big companies can do things incredibly wrong.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS *Even the Chevy ads with “real” people showing off their awards and using testimonials aren’t nearly as effective as they think. One study shows that more people find these kinds of ads less believable than find them more believable.

PPS Sorry. I just made it impossible for you to watch any more car ads without thinking about this post. Hopefully you’ll laugh more than cry about the absurdity of them all. Me? I die a little inside each time.

PPPS I went back and looked at the car ads from the UM football game. Lexus swaps out driving in the mountains with driving in a black gigantic showroom of some kind. Nissan shows cars driving on a football field. Like either of those is going to happen in real life.

This is the Ad We Wish They Would Write

I spent the weekend watching college football. I went to my first game at age seven to watch the University of Michigan whomp on the Navy. I was hooked. I became the third generation of my family to graduate from Jackson High and get a degree from UM. (My oldest son is working on becoming the fourth generation.) I only applied to one school and only applied for one reason—it was the easiest way to get football tickets! (Mom says the reason I stayed a fifth year was to keep those tickets one more season. She was right!)

Image result for college footballI love watching college football games on TV, too. Except for one thing—the horrible TV ads! Even my younger son rolls his eyes and scoffs at the lousy ads we see. We wonder who in their right mind listened to the pitches for these ads and green-lighted them.

“Okay, we’ll have this hamster because hamsters are furry and fun and sell almost as well as teddy bears. But this one will be in a hospital, wearing a diaper. And, get this … he’ll make a daring escape from the hospital to action-packed music, running faster than anyone expected, zooming around the hospital employees. Just before he leaps off the top of the hospital to freedom, he’ll grab a green blanket to use as a parachute and glide perfectly through the sunroof of our car—also driven by hamsters, because everyone knows that if hamsters will break out of human hospitals to be in our cars, humans will want to break out of hospitals to buy them, too.”

Really, Kia? That’s moving the needle for you?

My younger son is in high school, but after watching the hamster ad for the umpteenth time, he wrote a car ad in twenty seconds with only two words that will move you to tears and send you to the dealership.

Here it is …

Scene 1: Daddy gives his young daughter her own pony.

Scene 2: A montage of the girl and the pony growing up together, learning to ride, riding like the wind, winning ribbons and medals, becoming a team.

Scene 3: The girl, now sixteen, is riding her pony across a huge open field when they spot a herd of 299 horses in the distance. The pony stops and looks back at the girl. A tear forms on the girl’s cheek. She slides off her pony, removes the saddle and bridle, and sends the pony to go join the herd, slapping it on the rear while choking out the words … “It’s time.” 

Scene 4: The pony runs off to join the herd of horses which then meld into a brand new 300-horsepower Mustang.

Scene 5: The girl climbs behind the wheel of her new Mustang still feeling a little nostalgic and sad. She hears a noise and smiles as she looks up to see her horse’s bridle hanging from the rearview mirror.

Scene 6: The girl drives her Mustang off into the sunset. The tagline at the bottom reads, “When it’s time …”

Fade out (None of those cheesy tags on the end to ruin it with prices that mean nothing when you’re actually on the showroom floor picking out your model)

Ford, you can make the check out to Ian.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS The beauty of this ad is that without Ian having read my new book Most Ads Suck (But Yours Won’t), he crafted an ad in mere seconds that 1) Told a Story that relates to buying a car, 2) Spoke to the Heart about a rite of passage—getting your first car, 3) Made only One Point that we grow up and replace our childhood items with adult items, 4) Spoke to the tribe of women who owned or wanted to own a pony, and 5) Doesn’t look or sound like any other car ad out there. That’s five of the six principles in the book!

My son is planning to go to college to study computers, but if you are an advertising agency, you might want to snatch him up before the digital world gets him. I watched a lot of football and a lot of commercials this weekend. You could use him.

PPS If you don’t have a daughter, wouldn’t ever give your daughter a pony, or can’t stand Ford vehicles on principle, this ad won’t speak to you. Choose who to lose. But every guy who ever gave his daughter a pony will be watching, as will every woman who ever wanted a pony, whether she got one or not. That’s still a pretty big audience.

PPPS The best thing every car ad in America could do right now that would make their ads significantly better would be to drop those end tags about how much down, how much a month, because those prices are NEVER what anyone actually pays (even if you are a “fully qualified GM employee”). Those tags take away from the rest of the ad and turn what might have been a solid branding message into a transactional ad with a message that belies trust instead of building it. Just sayin’ …

Visualization Makes the Sale

Today I signed the papers to list my house for sale. I did this a little over a year ago, had the house listed for a year without a single offer. I took it off the market at the end of July, put in a lot of work on little things like painting more rooms, upgrading some appliances, landscaping, etc. I also took some time to stage the rooms better, take new photos, and write a new description. We’re doing things differently this time. Today it goes back on the market. I’ll keep you posted on what happens.

Ask any real estate agent the true key to getting a house sold and they will tell you it is getting the buyer to visualize already being in the home. The agent asks you questions like …

  • “How will you lay out your furniture in the family room?”
  • “Which bedrooms will your kids want?”
  • “What do you see yourself doing in this space?”

While facts and data are important in the buying process, visualization is what seals the deal.

I can tell you that the house has 4 spacious bedroom, 2.5 bathrooms, a downstairs office, first-floor laundry, and a three-car attached garage. You’ll analyze that data and process that information. But as long as you are in analytical mode, you’re not in buying mode. You’re gathering data and will continue to gather data.

I have to get you beyond the facts and get you to see yourself doing the behavior I want.

  • “The beauty of this southern-facing driveway is that on light snow days you will be sleeping in while your neighbors are out shoveling because you know it will melt quickly once the sun comes out out in the afternoon.”
  • “With bedrooms this large, when you say, ‘Go to your room!’ your kids will think it is a positive, not a punishment.”
  • “This no outlet road is exactly a quarter mile long. Two loops and you and your dog will have your mile in without any annoying traffic.”

The same is true in all retail. You have to get customers beyond the facts of the item you’re trying to sell and get them to visualize using it.

  • “The battery life of this drill is three times longer. Have you ever been working on a project and run out of battery at the worst possible time? Remember that frustration? Won’t happen with this unit.”
  • “You’ll love this feature of your stroller. You know how annoying the wheels squeak after you’ve used it for a while? These wheels pop off so easily it will only take you seconds to clean them and hit the road running smoothly and quietly again.”
  • “Think of the best picture you ever took with your phone. Now imagine that same picture with twice the clarity and detail. You won’t have to recolor it digitally, either, since this camera picks up twice the color, too. You’ll have more ‘favorite photos’ than you have wall space to hang them all.”

Or simply …

  • “How do you plan to use this?”

Facts have a place. But facts don’t close the sale as quickly and efficiently as visualization. Get your customers to see themselves using the product and you’ll close the sale more often.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Here is the new “ad copy” for the listing of the house (1000 character limit). The listing already has the facts so I go lighter on those. The ad-copy adds visualization to why those facts are important.

There is a lot to love about this house. The first thing you’ll fall in love with is the space. Plenty of room for big gatherings and a perfect layout for when you want some time to yourself.

You’ll love your mornings in the sun-filled kitchen, your views from the office, and your sunsets streaming through the trees.

You’ll love the neighborhood—quiet and secure, yet only half a mile from grocery and restaurants.

You’ll love the size of the bedrooms and closet space big enough for everything you own, organized and easy to find.

The huge full basement, first-floor laundry, and easy-entry 3-car attached garage are just icing on the cake. And the sun-drenched southern driveway is like chocolate sprinkles on top!

With a new roof and fairly new appliances, this house has everything you need. The kitchen is dated—but completely functional—and will serve you well until you decide to build the kitchen of your dreams and turn this house into the home you’ve always wanted.

Take a tour today!

PPS Notice how I used the one downside in the copy? The one complaint we received over and over from the first listing was that the kitchen is dated. Sure it is. But it is fully functional with solid cherry cabinets, fairly new appliances, and high quality drawers. I let you know up front that you’ll want to change the kitchen soon so that you’ll walk in knowing that in advance. Now, instead of a negative, it is an expectation and gets you thinking of how you will remake the kitchen of your dreams. Visualization.

Does Your Advertising Match the Experience?

How many times have you heard a radio ad that sounded something like this?

Phil’s Toys is the leader in selling hard-to-find toys. We have thousands of toys in stock. We won’t be undersold! Our customer service is unbeatable and we always offer the best deals. Phil’s Toys has the best toys ever! If you haven’t been to Phil’s Toys, you need to check it out! Located on Main Street right by the clock tower. Go to Phil’s Toys dot com and check out our every day deals. (517) 555-1111. That’s (517) 555-1111 or Phil’s Toys dot com for the best selection, best prices and best services on all your toy needs. (517)-555-1111. Call Phil’s Toys today!!

Pretty much all of them, right?

Image result for boringMultiple unsubstantiated claims. Zero emotions. No representation of your Core Values.

Boring.

Most people will ignore that ad. The few that don’t ignore it will remember one of three points—that you have tons of products, cheap discount prices, and excellent customer service.

But what happens when your customers walk in to find you have a fraction of the products of your big chain competitors, prices that are fair but on the high side, and customer service that is decent but nothing to write home about?

Sure, you have good products. You’re selling a higher grade product than the chains. You’re selling lesser-known but better solutions than your customers are used to seeing. You have fewer choices because you’ve curated down to only the best options. But that isn’t what your ad said.

Sure you have good prices. Thanks to MAP, no one has prices consistently lower than yours (except for the rogue website or two that drives Amazon down temporarily until you complain to your vendor.) No one has prices any higher either. The prices are fair, if not inspiring. But that’s not what your ad said.

Sure you have great service. At least you think you do because customers tell you they love you and you get great reviews on Facebook. That’s the problem with customer service, though. There is no set definition in all customers’ minds what great service looks like. Just because you aren’t bumbling, gum-chewing, idiots like your competitors doesn’t mean you’re meeting your customer’s expectations. but that’s not what your ad said.

If you make an unsubstantiated claim in your advertising, most people won’t believe it (if they heard it at all.) Those few that do believe it better not be disappointed when they show up in your store. Otherwise they will become your greatest critics which is worse than them not showing up at all.

Whether you change your ads or change the experience, the ad and experience have to match to be effective.

Here is one way you could talk about your customer service that is interesting and more substantive …

The box wasn’t unusually heavy.  Awkward?  Yes.  But not too cumbersome.  Getting it into the trunk was fun.  The top first, a little twist here, and finally a big push.  The customer looked at me and said, “I probably should have brought the van.”  I laughed, “Next time.”  A couple of thank you’s and she left with a smile.  I had a happy customer, and a little fresh air.  Ahh, we love carrying the big stuff out to your car.  Toy House in downtown Jackson.  We’re here to make you smile.  But next time bring the van.

That is a true story from a time I was carrying a box out to a customer’s cars. It illustrates one of our services, but more importantly paints the picture of the level of service we offer.

Here’s another true story …

I served them ice cream.  8:30 in the morning and I served my staff ice cream.  Some looked at me like I was crazy.  Others dug right in.  Yeah, I’m a little unconventional that way.  Kinda like how we staff the store.  I have more staff on the floor than stores double our size.  Some think I’m crazy.  Others love it.  There’s always someone available to help you.  It takes a little more ice cream, but it’s worth every scoop.  Toy House in downtown Jackson.  We’re here to make you smile.

This one tells you one important point—we have “more staff on the floor than stores double our size.”

Stories are far more illustrative and effective at getting your point across in a way people will notice and remember. When you show customers what you do, you are substantiating your claim and making it more believable. When you tell a true story you also make it more memorable.

Show people what you have done to help them see what they can expect when they visit. Not only will your ads be more interesting, they will match the experience your customers have in the store perfectly.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Here’s one more substantiated claim …

On a slow day we gift wrap about fifty packages.  On a busy day it’s closer to five hundred quickly and neatly wrapped gifts.  Why do we do it?  Because your time and money are valuable and this is how we help.  After fifty-six years and over five hundred miles of giftwrap, we’re pretty darn good at it.  Sure, there are a few hundred of our thirty thousand toys we just can’t wrap.  For everything else, let us do the work.  We like to wrap.  Toy House in downtown Jackson. We’re here to make you smile.