Monday-Morning-Memo-Logo1By Roy H. Williams

Ads are

  1. category-focused,
  2. product-focused, or
  3. client-focused.

Memo 102510 Three-AdsThe good thing about category-focused ads is that they’re portable; anyone in the category can use them. The bad thing about category-focused ads is that they don’t distinguish you from your competitors, because anyone in the category can use them. I’ve been told there are some good category-focused ads out there, but I’ve never encountered one personally.

Here’s an example of a category-focused script for TV or radio. Prepare to be underwhelmed. It’s really a very bad ad:

MALE: I used to hate going to the dentist, but then a friend told me about Dr. _________, ‘the gentle dentist with the healing touch.’

FEMALE ONE: I love Dr. __________. I wouldn’t go anywhere else.

FEMALE TWO: So you recommend Dr. _____________?

MALE: No question about it.

FEMALE ONE: Absolutely! He’s ‘the gentle dentist with the healing touch.’

FEMALE TWO: I’ve had some bad experiences at the dentist office. Dentists scare me.

FEMALE ONE: Not Dr. ______________! He (she) is truly concerned about his (her) patients. He (she) really cares. And his (her) friendly staff will even fill out your insurance papers for you.

FEMALE TWO: Does he (she) charge extra for that?

MALE: No! It’s a free service that Dr.____________ extends to all his (her) patients.

FEMALE ONE: I’d be willing to pay twice as much to go to Dr. __________ because he (she) has the healing touch, but he (she) doesn’t charge a penny more than those other dentists!

FEMALE TWO: I’m convinced! Do you have Dr.___________’s number handy?

MALE: I have an appointment card here in my wallet. [short pause] Dr. ____________’s number is XXX-XXXX.



ANNOUNCER: Dr. _________. The gentle dentist with the healing touch. Call today for your appointment. XXX-XXXX

FEMALE ONE: XXX-XXXX. The gentle dentist…

MALE: …with the healing touch.

I’ll bet you’re glad that’s over, right?

Like category-focused ads, product-focused ads are portable. Anyone who sells the product can use the ad. But unlike category-focused ads, product-focused ads can be hugely effective.

Are your flower beds lifeless? Fruits and vegetables suffering? This summer has been hell on Idaho gardens. But I’m going to help you resurrect it as the Garden of Eden. This is John Crook of Town and Country Gardens and I’ve found a miracle I want to share. It’s called Save-A-Tree, but don’t let that name fool you - Save-A-Tree was invented by a gardening genius who knows all about plants but next to nothing about marketing. Flowers spring back to life and look beautiful again, fruits grow sweet and ripe and luscious, and vegetables get bigger and tastier than you’ve ever had before. And it’s all natural so it’s almost impossible to burn your plants with it. Our customers are raving about Save-A-Tree because it works. Don’t give up on those plants! Give’em the gift of NEW LIFE. Save-A-Tree is available exclusively at Town and Country Gardens. It’s truly a miracle-in-a-bottle.

(jingle: Town and Country Gardens/Bringing beautiful things... to LIFE)

Across from the Budweiser plant south of Idaho Falls, and at the corner of Oak and Hyde in Pocatello.

My newest employee, Jacob Harrison, wrote that ad to say thanks to John Crook when John donated $500 to help finish the tower at Wizard Academy. John emailed us recently to let us know the result:

John invested exactly $750 to air Jacob’s Save-A-Tree ad on the radio for a few days in August.

Gross profit from Save-A-Tree sales in August 2009: $ 933

Gross profit from Save-A-Tree sales in August 2010: $3,099

“Thank you so much for the excellent ad, Jacob. We were extremely pleased with the results.”

John Crook

Owner, Town & Country Gardens, Inc.

BOTTOM LINE: John paid for the product, paid for the advertising and put $1,416 dollars in his pocket. The residual benefits of the ad cost him nothing. Life is good when ads are effective.

Product-focused ads can be wonderful, but you have to have an exceptional product. Save-A-Tree is an exceptional product.

Client-specific ads are powerful but they’re never portable. They’re also the hardest ads to write:

When I was seven years old, I held my father’s head in my hands as he took his last breath and died. A thing like that stays with you. It helps you understand that relationships – people – are what life’s all about. You gotta tell’em you love’em. This is J.R. Dunn. So now you know why I became a jeweler. Fine jewelry is one of the ways we tell people we love’em. When I got older and fell head-over-heals for Ann Marie, the love of my life, I didn’t have enough money to buy her an engagement ring. She married me anyway. Go figure. But I can promise you this: If you’re thinking of getting engaged to the love of your life, come to J.R. Dunn Jewelers in Lighthouse Point. No one in Florida, no one in America, is going to give you a better engagement ring for your money than me. One of the great joys of my life is to make it possible for guys to give the woman they love the diamond she deserves. There was nobody there for me when I needed an engagement ring. But I promise I’ll be there for you.

END OF AD – No location tag - We don’t want to ‘commercialize’ the message.

Every word of that ad is true. You’ve never met Jim Dunn but you feel like you know him a little, right?

And you know he wants to help you.

And you know why.

Client-specific ads are difficult to write because it takes a long time to dig what you need out of the client.

Writing great ads is easy when you have something to say.

What do you have to say?


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