The biggest mistake businesses make in advertising is saying the same thing everyone else is saying. Before you read any further, I encourage you to do something. Take out the last 3 advertisements you ran for your business, and ask yourself one question:
Could my competition put their logo on this piece and call it their own?
In over 90% of the advertisements I review for clients, the resounding answer is YES! That’s what I call NIGHTMARE MARKETING. The good news is, like any nightmare, you can wake up and change your company’s course of fate … and wasted money on advertising spend.
If you wrongly assume that continuing to spend thousands of dollars each month putting your “brand message” in front of your target audience without defining a way to set you apart will buy you prospects, you’ll be left with an empty marketing budget and few new clients to show for it. Your media sales executives will always tell you how beautiful your advertisements are because you’re lining their pockets with cash. They don’t care about your results.
If someone has never tried you and you’re simply running “me too” messaging about the services or products you offer, it doesn’t matter how beautifully built your advertisements are. More importantly, you shouldn’t feel saddened when you have a dismal return on your marketing investment.
Take a look at three advertisements for free standing emergency rooms running in the same publication, mere pages apart:
As you look at these advertisements, change the logos on each ad. It’s pretty easy to do. They are all full of industry triteness and photos of physicians in white coats. Nothing compelling stands out to the potential emergency room patient on why they should pick one location over the other two. Interestingly enough, all three ads even use the same color scheme.
- In the first advertisement, the company is “Redefining ER Care”. But their “new definition”, as highlighted in the ad’s bullet points, mirrors many of the bullet points in the third advertisement.
- The second advertisement says they are in essence”making lives better by providing 24-Hour emergency care”. Interesting — the other two advertisements also promote being open 24 hours. In fact, I’m not sure if there is an emergency room in America that is not open 24 Hours.
- The third advertisement highlights they are a “Local Team” but stops short of explaining why that should matter to the overwhelmed consumer faced with a decision on which of the 3 freestanding emergency rooms they should visit. The bottom half of the ad, which almost looks like a different ad entirely, matches the triteness of the first ad.
And that leads to an even bigger marketing faux pas … all of the messages are focused on the emergency rooms and what they offer (called features in marketing), instead of focused on how they solve problems potential visitors to the emergency room care about (called benefits in marketing).
One of the most important things you can do for your business is figure out why your customers use your service, how you can innovate what you offer to meet those needs, and then develop a compelling marketing message that sets you apart from your competition.
If you followed my instructions, you started this article by looking at the last three advertisements you created to analyze if your competitors could simply put their logo on any of your advertisements and call them their own. Now I challenge you to go and find advertisements for your competitors. If they fail the test, you’re ahead of the game. They haven’t had the same AHA! moment you had by reading this article.
You now know why prospects aren’t knocking down your door from the advertising you placed. Congratulations!
If you give prospects the exact same reasons to visit your business as your competition is giving, you might as well stop advertising. You’re wasting your money. But if you take time to set yourself apart, you’ll be doing better than 90% of the clients I met before I helped them craft new marketing strategies and messages.
In future articles and webinars, I’ll take you step-by-step through ways you can mend your marketing message to dominate your marketplace.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tina Bell is the founder of Mended Marketing. She developed her marketing experience serving a variety of industries, mostly in smaller sized companies, where she was hired to build their marketing programs. These experiences provided her the opportunity to wear many hats and learn multiple facets of marketing. She spent over six years in medical marketing, helping build an urgent care business from two urgent care clinics to over 13 clinics in four states. In addition to being well versed in copywriting, grassroots and community marketing initiatives, Tina is a sought after speaker and regularly presents educational webinars. She was ranked the top speaker at the Urgent Care Association of America Conference and spearheaded the development of an online medical training newsletter before she left that industry to start her own marketing firm.
The three advertisements pictured here were placed in the September 2016 issues of ALT Magazine.