Thursday, June 27, 2013

Be A Better Marketer: Do You Have Someone to Tell You No?

I just finished watching a train wreck of a commercial. I'm not going to name names, but let me fill you in on the concept. The owner of a local car dealership is at the wheel of his truck. As he's driving along, he continually looks up at the camera - clearly mounted on the passenger side visor - and in a demanding tone, tells the viewing public that if they're not buying their car from him, he wants to know why. He gives his personal cell number, assures people he'll answer the phone himself, and then we go to the dealership logo. The entire time, his attention is clearly divided between the camera and the highway he's driving on.

Yeah, that's real safe!

Conceptually, there's nothing particularly wrong with this ad - chances are you've seen variations of it thousands of times. But execution really is everything. A noticeably distracted driver is not the best choice to sell cars! This man's tone of voice was aggressive, not inviting. He didn't look good, sound good, or reflect well on his business.

Be A Better Marketer: Looking Bad is Entirely Avoidable!
Advertising is never free. Even in this small market, a television commercial is a significant investment for the small business owner. Before you spend that money, you want to make sure that you're making a wise decision. This requires an essential step: having someone who can tell you "No!"

What this car dealership owner clearly needed was someone on his side to take a look at the commercial - BEFORE IT AIRED - who would say "Dude. You're a great guy, but this commercial's just not working. Why don't we try it again? You'll be just as effective - and a whole lot safer and more focused! - if you're standing in front of one of your trucks instead of driving. If we change a few sentences around, you'll sound friendlier and less scary, too!"

It's important to understand that the TV ad rep is not going to do this for you. Their job is to sell ad time. They don't care if your ads are good, bad, or indifferent: they just want you to buy a bunch of them. The same dynamic is at play when you're buying print advertising, radio advertising, or doing online advertising. Some reps are better than others, but it's always, always, always a bad business decision to leave the responsibility for your company's image in their hands. That's yours, and you need to own it.

Everyone needs a second set of eyes to look at their work. In this instance, it was very clear that this dealership owner was handling production duties on his own, probably to keep costs down. The skills you need to be a great car dealer are not necessarily the same as the ones you need to be a great commercial producer.

Have a trusted employee, colleague, or friend review your all of your advertising before it goes live. This should be someone who is both sensible and confident enough to tell you "No way!" when an ad will make you look bad. It can be hard to hear that the ad you worked so hard on is a stinker, but it's much better to hear that before your market has seen the ad! Money spent on crappy ads is money wasted, and in this economy, who can afford to do that?

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