Why your advertising sucks part 4: You want it to do everything.

Victorinox Swiss Army knife, photo taken in Sw...
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Quick, how many copy points can you fit into a 60 second radio spot? The answer should be one.

But many ads that really suck the big one are about two or three things – maybe even more. This is real easy to observe in a print ad. Just open your local newspaper (if you still have one). You’re bound to find on the first couple pages an ad with something nebulous resembling a headline and, beneath that, five to fifteen bullet points describing everything the company does under the sun. These “ads” are more like a business plan than effective marketing communication.

News flash business plan publishers – your potential customers don’t care about your plans to make a mint from them. They don’t care how you make money. And frankly, they don’t even care if you do make money.

They’ll only care about you if you can make their life better. And confusing them with a bunch of pointless information won’t do that. It will just annoy them and make them want to buy something from your competitor instead.

Besides being strategically wrong, these ads are supremely flawed in execution. Now imagine you are at the hardware store and you need to buy something to cut steel. Would you buy something that also sawed wood, picked your teeth, had a magnifying glass on it and also promised to file your finger nails? A Swiss Army knife is good for a lot of things but it’s not a great knife (especially for cutting steel).

Now picture of single reinforced blade without any tricky gizoms. Just a long narrow piece of forged steel attached to an elegantly designed handle. It does just one thing and does it brilliantly: it cuts through the bullshit.

To keep from sucking, that’s what your advertising must do. Cut through all the clutter and bullshit while making a single minded case for purchasing your product.

There’s been a lot of hand wringing lately about what an advertising is and what it should be in the digital age. That conversation should not muddy this water. Because when you strip away all the discussion about technology, advertising needs to engage a customer and inform them about a product or a service. Simple, uncomplicated, well-executed messages in whatever medium will do that. Ugly, complicated, poorly-executed messages won’t. Period.

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Posted on: May 17, 2010, by :