An Anonymous Open Letter to Direct Advertisers Everywhere…

Dear Business Owner:

I am a consumer, your target, and the object of your commercial’s intent. I am an expert because it is my buying habits that you study, my desires you are trying to peak, and I have the money you want. Frankly, and I’m going to be brutal here, you suck at advertising. There is no imagination, no risks, no moment of surprise anymore. All the commercials sound the same, repetitive and nonsensical, just a different voice from time to time. It is a constant rambling and jumbled mess of jargon that means absolutely nothing to me. Roy H. Williams said it best in his Monday Morning Memo released January 24, 2011, “In an over-communicated society, predictability is the enemy of effective writing.” How true, how true. There is also another enemy, and that is needless information. We all know how the story goes. Business owner sits down with salesperson and says they want more customers. Salesperson takes copy points back to creative person and asks for commercial. Commercial is produced and client makes multiple changes. When the business owner finishes with the commercial, what you get is a predictable, boring, piece of nonsense.

Let me ask two very important questions here…

1. Why do you as a business owner think because you got voted #1 in some survey that this will make me be inclined to choose you over anyone else?

2. Why do you as a business owner think you are good at marketing and advertising?

Let me take a crack at question #2 first. Consider this, when you go to the Doctor and you discover you need surgery, do you tell the Doctor exactly how they should perform the surgery? Why not? If you think like a business owner does towards his advertising company, it’s your money right? No.

It’s simple, you trust the Doctor to know more about surgery than you do. So why won’t you trust Radio Stations to know more about advertising then you do? Pride? Ego? Fear? I’d say it is a combination of all of them.

When a business owner would tell me, “I tried Radio and it didn’t work,” I always want to reply with, “Did you write the commercial or did they”?

Simply put, if you know how to run your business, trust that a Radio Station knows what they are doing to advertise it. If a Radio Station Account Executive tried to tell a business owner how to run their business, they would be tarred and feathered pretty quickly, and rightly so. So why do you think you have the ability to market and advertise your business so effectively? Why did you call anybody to buy advertising in the first place? If you are a genius at marketing, you shouldn’t need anyone or anybody to advertise for you, you should be able to do it yourself.

The bottom line here is if you use a Radio Station, trust them. Give them the chance to be creative, to try something different, and to cut through the clutter. After all, marketing and advertising is all they do, all they think about, and they WANT you to succeed. Stop trying to write your commercials and focus on running your business. You might be surprised at the results.

As far as question #1 is concerned, this goes back to one very sad truth. You tend to want your commercial to be written for YOU, and NOT us your possible customer. Think about this, have you ever bought a car over the phone? Think hard now. Did you ever call a car dealership to buy a car? Yet how many times has a car dealership demanded their phone number in their ad? This is just one example, but truth be told I don’t even have a phonebook in my house anymore. Why? If I want your phone number, I can go to your website or even Google your number. Better yet, if you would get a smart phone app, I would download it for free and you would have my attention all the time, you could even kill your website and save some cash, but you aren’t listening to me, you’re writing your ads for yourself.

Is your phone number the most important thing? If you think your location and hours of operation are so crucial that you need them in your commercial, then you truly don’t know me or how to reach me, and you are writing that ad for yourself and not me. Also, just because readers of a publication think you are the absolute best smoothie shop five years running does not equal credibility. The only credible survey I know of in the country is Consumer Reports, and I have hardly ever used their input to decide on a purchase. I don’t know who J.D. Power and Associates are, but they have never influenced my choice of automobile.

The bottom line here is twofold. Stop writing commercials for you and write them for me, better yet let the Radio Station do what they do for a living and you focus on running your business. Eventually we might start paying attention to you again… maybe.

Sincerely,

A Potential Customer

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