Web Works by Chuck Bankoff
by Chuck Bankoff
December 14th, 2016

The Worst Marketing Advice I Ever Got

I wasn’t always a marketing genius, and I’ve been known to seek out the advice of others. Generally I’ve found that to be a good policy.

When I first got started—in my pre “marketing genius” days—my first attempt at advertising was using the Yellow Pages. Ironic since I was starting a web design company. Back then the Yellow Pages were relevant, and websites weren’t.

I’d never done anything like that before, so I called up the Yellow Pages salesperson and asked how I should get started. Apparently, the salesperson wasn’t a marketing genius, either. His advice? “Take a look at what everyone else is doing, and do that.”

Seriously? I was expecting hidden secrets and sage wisdom. “Just do what everyone else is doing?” My first thought was: well, that’s a pretty lazy answer. My second thought was: well, that’s some pretty bad advice.

“So, your strategy is for me to camouflage my ad by blending into everyone else’s?” I asked. He paused a moment, and summoning up the full extent of his marketing expertise, proclaimed, “Well, you don’t want to stand out too much or it will make the page look funny.”

Clearly this advice served his needs more than mine.

OK, now that I am a marketing genius (self-proclaimed, of course), here is my sage advice:

Don’t be obvious. Avoid clichés and the expected. If you are looking for an image for your website or blog post, don’t chose images that are the direct visual incarnation of the words on the page. If you’re writing a headline for an article or an ad, consider using a question, or something silly, shocking or controversial.

Pick and choose what to emphasize. If you try to make everything stand out, then nothing will stand out. What makes something stand out is that it’s different, not necessarily loud and obnoxious.

One of my early clients, who evidently went to the Yellow Pages school of marketing, wanted to make sure that no one missed any of his insurance products. He directed that everything on the home page had to be red or flashing. The end result was that the only things that stood out were things that weren’t red and didn’t move.

If you can’t be different, be the best. There’s a lot of mediocrity out there. At a local level, the bar is often pretty low. It can be tough to stand out in the window film industry, so be different by being the best. Everything from your business cards to your website should be top-shelf. Don’t get sucked into DIY websites and other marketing because it may save you a few bucks in the short term. One or two more clients than you might have otherwise had might be all it takes to make up the difference.

Personality counts. People want to do business with people, not faceless corporations. Show some personality in your ads and on your website. Don’t write in the third-person.

Are you on LinkedIn? Yeah, me too. I wrote my own profile, which is why I know you wrote your own profile. Why, then, would someone post a résumé that looks like it was written by some innocuous third-party? We know you wrote it! Less pretentious, and more personal. Try to sound like someone I can relate to. That goes for your advertising copy and your website.

Don’t be different like everyone else, be different like yourself. Look at what everyone else is doing, then when the opportunity presents itself, don’t do that. Do the opposite, or at least do something different. I can make a case for conformity, but I can make a bigger case for clever. Be different, be yourself … or be someone even better.

Want some real advice on how to generate leads? One place you can start is with your own website. Take a look at my 25 GLASS Website ‘Must Haves’ eBook. My treat.

This blog is from Focus on Film, the weekly e-newsletter that covers the latest news regarding window film and related products, including paint protection film. Click HERE to sign up—there is no charge. Interested in a deeper dive? Free subscriptions to Window Film magazine in print or digital format are available. Subscribe at no charge HERE.

4 comments
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  1. In my opinion Google is the new yellow pages. Every Tom Dick and Harry is advertising on Google. It is so competitive out there it is dog eat dog. The pricing cutting to get the business is frightening. Google has no rules and its all about how much money they can take off each advertiser.Companies need to rethink the marketing plans and move to other ways of reaching their target markets.
    Leon Levy Klingshield South Africa

  2. Leon is right. Everyone is doing their research online. It doesn’t really matter that much in my opinion “where” your brick and mortar store is located, although drive by traffic is important, but with the rise of searches on smart phones and other devices, it is critical that you have a strong online presence.

  3. Yes, Google is the new Yellow Pages but not every Tom, Dick and Harry is on Google. Only the best make it to page one. You need to look at page one as a land of opportunities. AdWords, map, website, videos, blog postings and articles. Remember, reviews and citations are very important. If you give Google what they want, you will be rewarded with traffic. If your site is set up to educate and inform, then you will receive inquires. If your staff is set up to further educate and inform on why your the best choice for the new client, then your cash register rings. I can get traffic to your site all day long, but your site needs to do its part and so do you. The rewards are huge for those of you who choose to become web centric for your business.

  4. Google ads have become very expensive indeed. Organic listing is a great way to get free advertising and also get quality leads, but it is a complete science to be able to understand how to get to the top.

    We as a company are very fortunate that we started SCO marketing when the internet first came onto the scene.

    Advertising in home improvement magazines where the print runs and distribution is large in numbers, still brings us a excellent return for our investment.
    Leon Levy Klingshield South Africa

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