The Quick Skinny:
- Arguing for exceptions is rooted in pride, one of the 7 Deadly Sins of Local Business Advertising
- Build your advertising strategy based on the rules that govern the masses: consumer behavior
- Exceptions to the rule make great stories, but poor strategy
We love exceptions to any rule. Business owners particularly. Chalk it up to iconoclastic entrepreneurial spirit, I suppose. Exceptions provide the opportunity for them to prove a point…the pride of needing to “be right”…Especially when it comes to advertising.
While discussing ideal local trade area with a business owner (a small law practice) last week, he proudly pointed out clients who had come from far and wide to seek his services, citing two obtuse examples of clients who had driven from two states away. “So your strategy is to target people in Mississippi, then?”
Recently, one of my best clients finally (and reluctantly) acquiesced at my continued suggestion that he remove the phone number from his radio ads (plumbing). “What if someone needs a plumber right when the commercial airs?” People don’t write phone numbers down and they certainly don’t remember them. They don’t have to. When they need his services Google has it, and they know it. Sure, calling when an ad fires happens sometimes, but it is by far the exception, not the rule. (Ask yourself how many ads you’ve heard and picked up the phone to call at that moment.) So why did he insist on wasting the precious 7 seconds it takes to articulate a phone number when we only have 30 seconds to tell his story, his value proposition, and the “why” of his business? Because he was arguing for the exception.
Are there legitimate exceptions? Absolutely. Certain economic conditions, like the current job market coupled with the real estate value free fall, have created a flood of opportunities for real estate companies, attorneys, etc. who deal in foreclosures and short-sales. Other examples might be a fit of hail storms creating short-term opportunities for roofers and cosmetic auto repair shops. A radio ad with a phone number in these cases might produce a flood of phone calls on the spot. But these conditions are the exception and are impossible to plan for long term.
Are you arguing for exceptions? Most retail businesses (that I deal with anyway) are in the business of selling to the masses. When building strategy, rather than argue for their exceptions, it is wise to follow the rules that govern the masses: Consumer behavior. Customers fall into the market when they fall into the market. And when they do, they are going to search the internet, they are not going to wait for a radio or TV ad to air. More on this strategy at the bottom of this page. Exceptions make great stories, but they are no way to build long term advertising strategy.