You’ve spent thousands of dollars on newspaper ads, your radio ads are in heaving rotation across the dial, and you even wrote a big check to redesign your website.
So where are all the customers? Why isn’t the cash register ringing?
Your advertising may not be the problem. It might be the result of a much more fundamental problem - a weak brand message.
It’s fair to say that most of the ads I see for local businesses tout “exceptional service”, “the best selection,” or “prices that can’t be beat”.
The problem with this type of marketing strategy is the fact there is always somebody with better service, better selection, and lower prices. There’s nothing original about these selling points.
And there lies the problem. Even Walmart has given that up, and they really do have the lowest prices.
A “brand” by definition is the deliverable proof of your distinction. Take a moment to think about what makes your brand really unique. Ask yourself if anyone will or should care about what you are selling.
Here are two fun (and sobering) brand exercises:
Take your ad(s) and put your competitor’s logo on it - and vice versa.
Do all the selling points in both ads still hold true? They shouldn’t. Every company has a distinction that will attract a certain segment of customers. Find your distinction “sweet spot,” and you’ve found the recipe for success.
Use the word “Only”, then prove it.
Look at the claims you are making in your ads, and use the word “only” in the copy. If you’re not the only one doing something, you’re not unique. Passed that test? “Prove it.” Can you absolutely prove without a shadow of doubt that you are the only company who can deliver that claim, or is it just a pipe dream?
Instead of declaring you have “the best selection of BBQ grills in Toledo”, try the distinctive claim, “the exclusive dealer for Big Green Eggs in Toledo.” Instead of having “the best service in the HVAC business”, try something unique like “every installation is personally inspected for quality by our owner.”
Remember, the buying public now has choices. The Internet, social media, and increases in all forms of media have given customers options they have never had before, and they’re talking to each other too. There is no reason to buy local anymore if you’re simply talking about price, service and selection. Stop wasting money on your bad advertising and concentrate on your brand distinction. Your brand will stand out if it is unique and memorable, and brands that stand out are winners at the cash register.