Take My Money. Please!

Uhhh, no.
Uhhh, no.

I know a guy, the president of a small financial institution in the Southeast, who once said to me, “My idea of advertising is to staple $5.00 bills to my business cards and stand on the street corner handing them out.”

You see, he once had a bad experience with advertising and thought he could do better.

Some reasons why this particular marketing approach may make sense:

  • No one is likely to ignore you
  • You can qualify (sort of like profiling) your prospects
  • Many are likely to remember your name (and probably keep frequenting that corner in hopes of scoring another fiver)
  • Some will tell their friends about the crazy dude on the corner handing out cash
  • It could go “viral”
  • You would probably make a lot of “friends” you don’t really know, like that Facebook thing
  • You can pretty much start and stop the campaign as often as you want (think bathroom breaks, and lunch).

Some reasons why this approach may not make sense:

  • Someone could say “No thanks” to the card and just take all of your $5.00 bills – not a very broad reach, there
  • Who is going to pick up all of those discarded business cards on the ground
  • The nice men in the white coats may want to take you in for “observation”
  • Many are likely to remember your name (and probably keep frequenting that corner in hopes of scoring another fiver)
  • Who is going to deal with the angry crowd when you run out of $5.00 bills
  • It’s a tough way to get in front of customers in the heat of the summer or the cold of winter
  • Is that really the brand message you want to deliver – “At ABC Financial, give us your hard earned money so we can give it away”
  • That’s a pretty high CPM.

So, he was joking, but he had a seriously jaundiced view of advertising in general. Some people, who don’t do advertising for a living, have some pretty interesting ways of thinking about the subject. I feel those attitudes come from having tried something for a short time, not seeing any immediate tangible results, and pulling the plug. Many don’t think the process through from problem, to research, to solution, to follow-up. And then, there are things like brand alignment – is the message in the solution in line with the company’s brand image, or will it confuse the brand’s constituents? What action do they want those who see or hear or read the message to take? Do they have the resources in place to deliver the brand experience when the customers do show up? Is everyone in the company on the same brand message page, or will the customers get a different story from every touchpoint? The list goes on.

The financial guy in the story is really good at banking. He knows the business forward and backward. He and his crew are known as the local experts.  Likewise, most ad agencies know the business of advertising and all that entails: branding, design, media, interactive and production. The good ones know how to relate their customers’ stories in ways that help build the brand and not confuse the constituents.

Next time you are thinking about taking on an advertising task, and your business is not advertising, consider calling a professional. There are plenty of us out there, and you may be pleasantly surprised by the results.

kids-bullyingAnd, no one will knock you down and take all of your $5.00 bills.


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