Its Not About You

David Day

3 min read
It’s Not About You

Have you ever run into an acquaintance with whom you haven’t spoken in years? At first you were pleasantly surprised and happy to see them, but as your old friend continued to talk about himself constantly, sharing details that were relevant to no one but himself and boring you with self-aggrandizing stories- you began to regret the connection. You probably didn’t seek a follow-up meeting for coffee, did you?

Is your advertising like that old acquaintance? Too many times we create ads that proudly parade our company’s features and benefits loudly and clearly before our audience only to fall flat in the engagement or response category. “We’re number one,” or “our staff is the most qualified,” or “we have more locations, etc.” While these are good things for our prospects to know, are they the best messages we have to offer?

One of the most valuable pieces of advice I have ever received in the advertising business is simply this: nobody cares. Why should they? They have their own issues to worry about. They’ve got deadlines, employee issues, and client issues—life to deal with. You can have an award-winning ad or spot that has zero appeal to the customer because they don’t really want to know about you. Not at first, anyway.

Their first concern is about themselves, so, let’s make ads that talk about them, not us. How you build your message makes the difference.

Here are some simple guidelines to consider when creating your advertising message:

1. Live in their shoes. Put yourself in your prospect’s situation. What are they concerned about? What matters to them? What is their “hot button?” Work your message around those ideas. If the number of locations is your most competitive advantage, then put it in terms that matter to the customer. “Your time is money. Save both at one of our 12 convenient locations.” Now the ad is about the customer, not about us.

2. Learn from them. There is a ton of information out there about your prospect if you take the time to look for it. Find out what they like, don’t like, want, need, and most importantly, what and how they spend money. When you build a profile of your best customer, you can then build ads that will make them feel like you’re reading their mail.

3. Listen to your current customers. They tell you a lot about your prospects (see previous blog post “Who is Your Ideal Customer?”). Your best customers have things in common with your best prospects.

4. Look at great advertising examples. There are some really good ones out there. Focus on brands that know how to speak to their customers. One of my favorites in recent memory (and there are lots of them) is the John Hancock series of TV spots. The campaign focused solely on the unanswered but worrisome questions people have -but don’t ask -about their finances.

5. Lead them to the sale. Think of your ad as a first step. The ad should simply appeal to the prospect on their terms and get them to the next step in the sales process. What do you want the prospect to do after seeing your ad? Lead them there.

When we begin to see our prospects from their own viewpoint, they begin to see us as relevant. How can you change your message to be customer focused rather than company focused?

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