Category advertising & marketing

Image matters

In light of yesterday’s post, How do your customers identify you?, I’d like to direct you to today’s post on Seth Godin’s blog. Here’s the meat of it:

Marketing is actually what other people are saying about you.

Like it or not, true or not, what other people say is what the public tends to believe. Hence an imperative to be intentional about how we’re seen.

You need to give some thought to how you want people to see you and your company. Then you actually need to be that, or at least begin the process of becoming that. You also may need to adjust your company’s “identifiers” – its logo and associated marketing materials – to reflect that identity.

Don’t be like this company. They got a big write up in a well-known technology blog, and most of the comments ended up being about how cheap their logo looked. Go ahead and click the highlighted link and scroll down to the comments at the bottom of the page. Some people had fun with it, but it is clear that a lot of people had a hard time taking the company seriously because of their logo.

The company handled it well, even making a joke about it and eventually announcing they were pursuing a new logo, but that doesn’t change the fact that their unprofessional image overshadowed their service.

You put on nice clothing when you go to a job interview. Shouldn’t you dress your business nicely when you meet a customer? Invest in a good logo that accurately reflects your business and how you want it to be seen.

Oh, and the other stuff that Seth mentions in his blog post, it applies to you as well. Dressing up a bad business with a great logo and marketing is as useless as putting whipped cream on an onion.

Share

How do your customers identify you?

Here’s a question for you: What type of work do you do? Not what is it you do for a living, but what kind of work is it? Is it competent work? Is it mediocre? Is it horrible? Is it professional and white collar? Is it skilled and finely detailed? Is it rough, no-nonsense and immediately useful?

The purpose of this question is to get you to think about how your customers identify your company. I got to thinking along these lines recently while doing some research for a logo I was working on. I was surprised at how many small business logos for this particular field did little to convey the type of work they did.

When we see someone in a suit, we assume they work behind a desk. When we see someone wearing boots, we assume they work outside. That’s not a surprise. But it is surprising when someone is inappropriately dressed for they work they claim to do. If the guy who is supposed to clear your land of brush shows up in dress slacks, you’ll wonder if he is prepared for the job. You’ll think the same thing if a person selling you a suit is dressed in a sneakers and worn jeans. How they present themselves gives a clue to whether or not they are up to the job.

The same applies to businesses, yet a lot of small businesses inadvertently give the wrong message in their presentation. If you’re a selling something that has an appeal based on looks (clothing, furniture, whatever) then your business card had better look good. If you’re in a line of work where dependability is key, say transportation, delivery or courier services, then your marketing materials had better look dependable.

When a potential customer needs a dependable courier service, will they think you are dependable by looking at your web site? When a potential customer wants a nice couch to change the look of their living room, will they know you have good taste based on the sign outside your store?

Often a business owner will tell me that once a customer comes in to see their merchandise or tries their service, it sells itself. But the truth is that a customer won’t try your service or come in to see your merchandise until they are convinced that you are up to the job.

Saying you’re up to the job isn’t going to convince them. You show them your are up to the job by making a competent presentation through your marketing and advertising. Fail to do that, and you’ll be like the guy in sneakers and worn jeans trying to sell suits. He can say he knows suits till he’s blue in the face, but no one will buy unless it’s priced so low that it’s too good to pass up.

It’s not difficult to present your company in a competent fashion. Yes, it will take an investment of a little time and some money. But the investment in your business’s identity – the logo, the design of the business cards and the letterhead – is essentially a one-time investment. It is miniscule compared to the monthly ongoing expenditures you make in the course of doing business.

You’re going to have business cards printed up anyway. Why not do them right? Contact me. You have nothing to lose.

Share

Will people ignore your ad?

TechCrunch has a new article on internet advertising. It states that 43% of internet users ignore banner ads. Interestingly, other media have a much lower “ignore” rate: 14% of surveyed people say they ignore television ads, 7% for radio, and 6% ignore newspaper ads.

Much is made about how many people ignore advertising. In fact, a lot of business owners I’ve talked to use this as an excuse to cut their advertising. What surprises me is how many people don’t ignore advertising. 86% of viewers do not tune out television commercials! 57% of internet users take notice of banner ads! Now that doesn’t mean that a particular viewer or user will respond to your ad, but it does mean that they at least give you a chance to tell your story, to let them know what your small business is all about.

You’d do well to make the most of it.

Share

A branding exercise

Chris Brogan lets us in on a great little branding exercise. He suggests that we sit down and think about which magazine we are. It’s similar to a branding exercise that I suggested to you back in July, but Chris’s version may be easier for some people to think about and see the direction they need to take. It ultimately paints a picture in your mind and helps you visualize the results. While Chris applies the exercise to individuals, it also applies to small businesses. It’s worth the read.

Click the link above and read the article, and write down your thoughts. This type of thing is valuable to any business, big or small, because if you can’t define your business in your own mind, you’ll never be able to define it in your advertising.

Share

What’s out of place in your advertising?

Seth Godin has a great article on hiring an architect. Only he’s not talking about architects for buildings, he’s talking about an architect for your business. Here’s my favorite quote:

I’m talking about intentionally building a structure and a strategy and a position, not focusing your energy on the mechanics, because mechanics alone are insufficient. Just as you can’t build a class A office building with nothing but a skilled carpenter, you can’t build a business for the ages that merely puts widgets into boxes.

My friend Jerry calls these people corporate chiropractors. They don’t do surgery, they realign and recognize what’s out of place.

It’s an excellent read. Go take a look and ask yourself, “does my advertising or marketing need an architect?”

Share

What does the branding process look like?

American Express OPEN has a great series that looks at small businesses as they go through the rebranding process. I think a lot of small businesses are intimidated by this type of thing, and the Project Rebrand videos let the viewer get an inside look at what exactly takes place and why certain ideas are explored. I especially like where the business-owners share their perceptions about the process and how those perceptions changed as the began to see the value of a well thought out brand.

The videos are short and somewhat addicting. It’s almost like watching one of those make-over shows on TV, only these teach as well as entertain. They’re well worth watching. Click here to view them.

Share

Doing it right

Since the last post showcased an ad that didn’t quite send the right message, I thought I’d show and example of a local business that seems to be on the right track as far as their advertising goes.

A few months ago I started noticing some billboards going up for a local chiropractic clinic. (Full disclosure: they are not a client, and I have never talked with them about their advertising.)

SandStone Chiropractic Billboard

It’s a nice bulletin and you can clearly read it from a distance. Other than the phone number and location, it’s is almost as if they followed The Art of the Billboard to a tee. I like it when someone does something right, so even though they are not a client I got a feeling of satisfaction from knowing that someone else “got it.”

I was even more pleased when I drove past their location one Sunday and saw their sign out front.

SandStone exterior sign

They actually use their logo on their storefront sign! You would be surprised at how many small businesses don’t do that. This practitioner’s identity is further reinforced by the use of color; the color of the storefront lettering is similar to the billboard’s background color. Maybe they’ve read Who Are You?

Then one day I am thumbing through a magazine to verify that a client’s ad had ran correctly, and what do I find? You guessed it, an ad for SandStone Chiropractic.

SandStone Magazine Ad

I was thrilled. Not only does the ad look good, I immediately recognized it as being SandStone Chiropractic and mentally connected it with the billboards and the storefront. That’s one of the things you want to accomplish with your advertising, a coherent identity.

I am a little disappointed with the lettering for the business’s name; it is not the same font used in the billboards or the storefront sign. The art-deco look of the magazine lettering is not nearly as professional looking as the serif font used in the other ads. However, because the visuals are almost identical to the billboards (color scheme, practitioner’s photo), the connection is still made and the ad works.

Interestingly, the lettering appears to be the same font used for the logo icon, which is a stylized SSC. Perhaps this was the original logo and it was changed either for ease of reading or to perhaps give a more professional appearance? It might be interesting to learn how this logo was developed.

Despite the logo/lettering issue with the magazine ad, this appears to be a strong advertising campaign for a local business. I wish them great success!

Share

Mixed messages

I’ve mentioned before that a good advertisement will say one thing and say it well. You have such a short slice of time to communicate your message and you don’t want to muddle things up by trying to say too many things.

With that in mind, it is possible to inadvertently send a mixed or conflicting message through your advertising. This billboard was running a while back near where I live, and illustrates what I mean by a mixed or conflicting message:

BurgerFresh Billboard

I hate to pick on these guys, because they really do serve great hamburgers. But this billboard doesn’t do their product justice.

I love the colors and the logo, but the product shot is a mess. There is nothing “fresh” about it. It looks as if someone dropped the hamburger on the floor, hastily put it back together and snapped a quick picture. While their name and their message attempts to say they have really good, fresh-made hamburgers, their product shot says the hamburgers are thrown together and are unappetizing.

It didn’t need to be this way. They could have hired a professional photographer experienced in product shots, taken the time to really dress up the burger, even hire a food stylist (yes, just like a hair stylist, only for food) so their product would look its absolute best. The results would have been vastly different.

I’m also curious if they took the picture themselves, as the lighting is poor and the colors are washed out. I think they would have been well-served to call in a professional. Based on the design, the graphic artist who did the billboard appears to know what they were doing, but they were hindered by an amateurish photo that communicates a message that is in direct opposition to the one that is supposedly presented.

It takes a lot of skill and hard work to match the look and tone of an ad to its message. Don’t cut any corners. You dress yourself nicely when you want to stand out and make an impression. Why wouldn’t you do the same with your advertising?

Share

Your logo’s back-story

A lot is involved in designing a logo, but it is well worth the investment.

Logo Design Love has a great piece by Brandon Moore on the three essential elements about a company that a logo design should reflect. Click the link, read the short article, and ask yourself, “Does my business’s logo do this?”

Share

Clever advertising

My wife and I celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary last week. We have some close friends whose anniversary is the day before ours, so the four of us drove up through the Ozarks to Branson, Missouri to observe the occasions and take in some fall colors.

On the way up, we passed a billboard in one of the many towns we drove through. Since I’m in advertising and things like that interest me, my friends pointed it out. It was for a jewelry store and it read:

“We sell wife insurance.”

We  chuckled a bit, and the other couple both said that the ad had gotten their attention. I then turned to the wife and asked her, “Does that ad make you want to buy jewelry from that business?” She immediately said no. I turned to the husband and asked the same thing. He also said that it did not make him want to buy from them. The billboard’s cleverness got their attention, but it did nothing to persuade them to actually go into the store.

Why is that? Because while the ad is clever, it doesn’t strike a chord within its audience. It fails to make a connection.

A lot of small business owners mistake clever advertising for good advertising. Clever might grab your attention, but good advertising not only gets your attention, it awakens something within you and lingers in your mind long after the campaign is over. It does that by touching something within the viewer that they immediately recognize as true.

My question to my friends sparked a short conversation about what makes good advertising and why that particular billboard missed the mark. As we were talking, my friend’s wife brought up a billboard that I had done for one of my clients. Here is the billboard she was talking about:

Jeff's Jewelry Billboard "Show her Love"

The wife actually said that she loved this billboard. And she isn’t the first to tell me that. In fact, someone else had mentioned this same billboard to me a week or two before, saying it was one of their favorites. What’s interesting about that is that this billboard hasn’t been displayed in almost two years. But people still remember it. And talk about it. It strikes a chord within them and they can identify with the message, and they want to do business with that advertiser.

Does your advertising do that?

Share

Copyright © Worthwhile Advertising
Advertising Help for Small Business

Built on Notes Blog Core
Powered by WordPress