(I’m so proud to have Ryan Patrick writing today’s post. How would I describe our head of message development who’s written upwards of 10,000 ads and who I’ve known for a quarter century? Hmm…)
Please welcome to the Ramada Inn stage, Ryan Patrick…
I’m easily annoyed.
Annoyance is not an admirable trait. I’m not proud of it. Frankly, I find it annoying. Along with movie talkers, emails written in ALL CAPS, poopheads who take up two parking spaces, and when my salad comes at the same time as my entree.
But nothing … nothing … exasperates me faster than bad advertising.
If you truly want to see me go from gratified to disgruntled in 30 seconds flat, here’s how to do it:
1. Fill Your Commercials With Clichés.
My disdain for clichés is well documented. You can’t turn on a TV, open a newspaper, click on a hyperlink, or tune into the radio without being assaulted and insulted by a barrage of vile verbiage. It’s not that that these pathetic phrases are saying anything bad. It’s that they’re not saying anything at all. Clichés are a complete waste of my time and your money. Not to go all Dante on you, but clichés make up the seventh concentric circle of the inferno. They are of the devil. And he’s not a nice dude.
2. Answer Questions Nobody Is Asking
If customers ask how much you charge, do you tell them how long you’ve been in business? When clients contact you to schedule an appointment, do you boast about your fast, friendly service? If people inquire about store hours, do you give them an inventory of your complete product line? STOP ANSWERING QUESTIONS YOUR CUSTOMERS AREN’T ASKING!!! (See? I told you all caps are annoying.) Instead, allocate marketing dollars to satisfy your customers’ inquiring minds. Do you know what questions they’re asking? Find out.
3. Include Out-Of-Date Content
Hearing a Christmas ad on January 11th is a great way to get my dander up. Seeing an ad promoting your event on the day after it happened is equally infuriating. If your marketing message has a deadline, please kill it on time. (Note: this applies to outdoor signage, too.)
4. Make It All About You
Don’t you just love people who only talk about themselves? Wouldn’t it be swell to listen to a blowhard ramble for hours about how great he is? No? Well, that may be what you’re doing in your ads. A big chunk of advertiser’s commercial time is spent boasting about the greatness of their selection, the competitiveness of their pricing, and the friendliness and knowledgeableness of their staff. Please don’t be That Guy. Instead, tell me how you’ll take care of me. Show me how you’ll save me time, headaches, and/or money. Want me to care about you? Talk to me about me.
5. Say What Everyone Else Is Saying
If you took your commercial and switched out your business name with the name of a competitor, would it be the same ad? If so, you’re missing out on an opportunity to set yourself apart so you stand out amidst the noise and clutter. If your business is different than everyone else, don’t say what the other guys are saying. And make sure they can’t say what you’re saying, either.
6. Cram It With Waaaaaay Too Much Information
President Rutherford B. Hayes who said, “Putting too much information in an ad is like putting fifty pounds of potatoes in a ten pound bag.” Or maybe it wasn’t him. I don’t know. I wasn’t a very good history student. Regardless of who said it, the truth can’t be denied. Trying to cram too much information into an ad will cause your message to be a cluttered, convoluted, and just plain crappy. No one will want to listen to it. Few will have the patience to read it. And only a handful will click on it. Here’s a handy rule of thumb: If you have eleven different things to say, commit to eleven different messages. That’ll keep the bag (and my ears) from splitting.
7. Allow Your Disclaimer To Take Over The Commercial
If you woke up this morning saying, “Gee, I hope I get to jump through a bunch of hoops today” … well, then, I’m sure you have a bright future ahead of you in politics. Drawn-out disclaimers, nasty asterisks, and prolonged paragraphs of fine print may keep your message compliant with bureaucratic bylaws and regulations, but they will also cause your customers to reconsider working with you. I don’t want to cut through crimson tape to give you my business. You may not be trying to hide anything, but it sure sounds like you are.
Okay. It’s your turn. Post your most maddening marketing methods on our Facebook page.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must tell some kids to get off my lawn.