24

Feb

by Jeff

137929257Those 4 words are the most opened e-mail sub­ject line most peo­ple have ever tested: “You are not alone.”

And while that’s a nice Cliff Claven-esque CRO tip to throw out, it’s ask­ing WHY that’s such a pow­er­ful sub­ject line that’ll get you somewhere.

Here’s why:

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Or if that’s not quite explicit enough, per­haps this will be:

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Because if your ads aren’t doing any of those things, they’re prob­a­bly not doing much of any­thing else, either.

Selfies suck. They're even worse as advertising.

Self­ies suck. They’re even worse as advertising.

What are the two biggest mis­takes in advertising?

Depends on who you ask.

My part­ner, Roy Williams, has a list of The 12 Most Com­mon Mis­takes in Adver­tis­ing that’s awfully hard to argue with. But they’re the most com­mon mis­takes, not “biggest.” Plus, they are 12 of them.

For me, the biggest mis­take is cre­at­ing great adver­tis­ing for a lousy prod­uct. By putting the adver­tiser out of busi­ness that mis­take will have the biggest neg­a­tive repurcussions.

Once you take that off the table, though, then I’d list:

  1. Not say­ing any­thing that’s worth say­ing (let alone adver­tis­ing), and
  2. Bor­ing your audi­ence with ignor­able and for­getable ads

Ira Glass’s Two Biggest Mis­takes in Advertising

But if you ask Ira Glass, he’d tell you the two biggest mis­takes are:

  1. Using an inau­then­tic, over-hyped “voice” or pre­sen­ta­tion style, and
  2. Keep­ing the focus on your­self instead of the customer

Don’t believe me? Check him out:

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In other words, respect your audience.

Respect them by talk­ing to them like a friend,  one sit­ting right next to you at the bar. And respect them by keep­ing the focus of the ad on them and what mat­ters to them, rather than on yourself.

Use Real Peo­ple Lan­guage. Talk Like a Friend

Here’s how all-time copy­writ­ing leg­end Bob Lev­ensen says to do it:

“Start off with ‘Dear Char­lie,’ then say ‘this is what I want to tell you about. Make believe that the per­son you’re talk­ing to is a per­fectly intel­li­gent friend who knows less about the prod­uct than you do. Then, when you’ve fin­ished writ­ing the copy, just cross out ‘Dear Char­lie’.“

This is the same guy who told us that most intel­li­gent peo­ple ignore adver­tis­ing because most adver­tis­ing ignores intel­li­gent peo­ple. And he was right.

So skip the hype, the pre-amble, the hemmin’-‘n-hawin’, and just say the thing.

Instead of wast­ing your cre­ativ­ity on witty, charm­ing, and clever lan­guage, save it for fig­ur­ing out how to be believ­able and cred­i­ble and to best sub­stan­ti­ate or dra­ma­tize your major claim.

Ditch Your We-We: Keep Your Focus on the Customer

Most adver­tis­ers try to stay cred­i­ble by focus­ing on why they’re bet­ter than the com­pe­ti­tion. Not a bad thing to do.

Unfor­tu­nately, they for­get to tie those dif­fer­en­tia­tors back to ben­e­fits that the cus­tomer will actu­ally care about. Instead they just thump their chests and make We-We claims:

  • We’re the best at this,
  • We’re num­ber one at that,
  • We’ve been in busi­ness since 1893.

We this, we that, and they we-we-we all the way home, and all over them­selves in their ad copy.

Everyone’s Favorite Radio Station

Ditch the we-we and take up the you-you. Make the cus­tomer the hero and the focus of the ad. Remem­ber your copy­writ­ing basics: always answer “What’s In It For Me?” for your customers.

WIIFM: everybody’s favorite radio sta­tio, play­ing 24–7 in their heads.

The good news is that ditch­ing the we-we, switch­ing to you-you, and answer­ing WIIFM makes it a lot eas­ier to talk to your audi­ence in a human voice.

And get­ting back to my list of mis­takes, it’ll also ensure you have some­thing worth say­ing, and keep you from bor­ing your audi­ence. Way to go, Ira. Thanks for your won­der­ful, won­der­ful radio show, and all the great sto­ry­telling (and adver­tis­ing) advice.

Now all you have to do is make sure your prod­uct lives up to its advertising ; )

P.S. Yes, I skipped Part III. I’ll cir­cle back to that later this week or early next week. Trust me, that les­son will work best com­ing last. 

11

Feb

by Jeff

beef

Where’s the Beef?

Imag­ine you’ve been hired to cre­ate a PSA for the local police. Too many peo­ple are speed­ing in res­i­den­tial areas, and the police want a PSA-style radio ad designed to get peo­ple to slow down.

What kind of ad do you create?

If you’re like most adver­tis­ers, you DON’T dig for the facts and the insights and the logic. You won’t research the issue, and that means it’ll be tough to put real sub­stance behind your messaging.

Instead, you jump right to brain­storm­ing ways to dra­ma­tize  your safety mes­sage: How can we cre­ate the most shock­ing, dra­mat­i­cally pow­er­ful ad, built around a “Don’t speed or lit­tle johny will get hit by a car” premise.

And because you skipped that essen­tial first step of dig­ging for sub­stance, you’ll never get the chance to cre­ate some­thing as awe­some as this:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (ver­sion 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Down­load the lat­est ver­sion here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

If you hit me at 40 mph there’s around an 80% chance I’ll die. Hit me at 30 and there’s around an 80% chance I’ll live.”

You wouldn’t cre­ate that because you (likely) didn’t stop to ask: why is the speed limit set at that speed to begin with?

In order to say some­thing pow­er­fully, you must start by hav­ing some­thing pow­er­ful to say.

And that means you have to spend as much time look­ing for the “stuff” of your ads (or radio drama) as you do writ­ing or pro­duc­ing them. Which is exactly what Ira Glass says in Part II of his video series on storytelling:

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The amount of time find­ing the decent story is more than the amount of time it takes to pro­duce the story. And that as some­one who wants to do cre­ative work, you actu­ally have to set aside just as much time for the look­ing for stories…

…I think that, like, not enough gets said about the impor­tance of aban­don­ing crap.” — Ira Glass

I con­cur with Ira on this.

Stop choos­ing to work the heart with “emo­tional” ads and great pro­duc­tion when what’s required is for you to dig harder for the right insight, fact, prod­uct dif­fer­en­tia­tor, or ben­e­fit that’s actu­ally worth adver­tis­ing in the first place.

The key is to start with what Leo Bur­nett called the “inher­ent drama” of the prod­uct or ser­vice itself. THEN you can add in all that great writ­ing and production.

When you don’t start with the inher­ent drama of the prod­uct itself, you get some­thing like this:

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No one believed those ads because no one drinks milk as a high-performance sports drink. The adver­tiser was try­ing to stick a false drama onto the prod­uct and the approach flopped.

Com­pare that to the “Got Milk” cam­paign. It started from the truth about — the inher­ent drama of — milk, as in when, and under what con­di­tions, do real peo­ple actu­ally crave milk and only milk? When eat­ing a peanut but­ter sand­which, or eat­ing rich cook­ies. That’s when noth­ing but a cold glass of milk will do. An inher­ent drama that led to ads like this:

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What about you? Are you set­ting aside as much time search­ing for great sub­stance as you do for writ­ing and pro­duc­ing your ads?

Or are you still try­ing to bluff with fluff?

P.S. I’d like to pro­vide proper attri­bu­tion and credit for the radio ad, but… I can’t seem to remem­ber or re-find wher­ever it came from. My apolo­gies to the ad group that cre­ated that PSA

2015-02-01_1414Ira Glass has advice on advertising?

Well… not specif­i­cally, but he did do an amaz­ing four part series on sto­ry­telling, and I thought I’d trans­late his advice to adver­tis­ing, start­ing with the first video in the series.

The first video cov­ers Ira’s two basic build­ing blocks of sto­ry­telling: the anec­dote and the moment of reflec­tion. And in adver­tis­ing terms, I think these are roughly anal­o­gous to Rel­e­vance and Cred­i­bil­ity. But stick­ing with sto­ry­telling for a moment:

  • The anec­dote is the nar­ra­tive that presents action in real-time, pulls peo­ple into the “world” of the story, builds sus­pense, and gen­er­ates inter­est, and
  • The moment of reflec­tion is the part that helps raise ques­tions and frames the mean­ing of the story

You can see Ira explain­ing these two build­ing blocks here:

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Anec­dote = Meaty Fac­toid or Real­ity Hook = Credibility

In adver­tis­ing speak, the nar­ra­tive is often some inter­est­ing fac­toid or prod­uct fea­ture that can then be tied to a ben­e­fit, need, or desire.

  • “Our prod­uct uses a bet­ter grade of X, so it [pro­vides this benefit].”
  • Or, “We spend twice as long doing Y as the other guys, and that means you get [this benefit]
  • The coakroach you see in the morn­ing is the strag­gler behind hun­dreds of oth­ers that were in your home last night.

Or it’s a real­ity hook that’s tied to an imme­di­ate moment of need:

  • You hit your garage door opener and hear this [sound effect of Garage Door spring break­ing], leav­ing your car trapped in your own Garage. Now what?
  • That roach you saw scur­ry­ing away when you opened your pantry…

In the case of the fac­toid, the Anec­dote is pro­vid­ing cred­i­bil­ity and, with the asso­ci­ated ben­e­fit, some degree of relevance.

In the case of the drama­ti­za­tion, it’s 100% rel­e­vance, framed in terms of a recall cue. As in, when this event hap­pens to you, remem­ber [our brand promise]

Moment of Reflec­tion = Raise Ques­tions, Frame Mean­ing of Ad Campaign

Iwo-Jima-300x267

Plant­ing a flag on occu­pied ter­ri­tory involves a fight

Brand­ing and posi­tion­ing (almost) always involve theft and warfare.

The mean­ing of your brand and the “posi­tion” you want in the minds of con­sumers is usu­al­lly already occu­pied, or at least con­tested, by another brand. Some­body else owns, or is try­ing to own, what you want because there are only a few posi­tions worth own­ing. If you want to plant your flag on that piece of men­tal real estate, you’ve got to remove their flag first. Either steal the land out from under them or fight for it: theft and warfare.

bunny_profile_pic

That bunny HAD to keep going and going if it wanted to take “long last­ing” away from Duracell.

Take reg­u­lar old bat­ter­ies: the only three qual­i­ties peo­ple care about are:

  1. long-lasting,
  2. reli­able, and
  3. cheap*.

And of those three, the only two suit­able for brand­ing are “long-lasting” and “reli­able.” That’s why Ener­gizer spent gazil­lions of dol­lars on that bunny that just kept going and going and going… until it had stolen “long-lasting” out from under Dura­cell. They could have owned some other attribute with far less effort and expense, but it wouldn’t have been worth owning.

So now Ener­gizer owns “long-lasting” and Dura­cell has switched to adver­tis­ing reli­a­bil­ity, sim­ply because it was the only thing left to take that was still worth owning.

The point to all of this is that it’s almost never enough to posi­tion your brand; you have to de-position (aka unseat) your com­pe­ti­tion as well.**

And that positioning-de-positining dance is what the moment of reflec­tion is all about.

When you men­tion the fact that your brand does X (and the other brands don’t), you get to frame the mean­ing of that fact:

We do X because we’re com­mit­ted to deliv­er­ing, [this ben­e­fit]—which means that the other guy sim­ply doesn’t care.

Now the tag end of that state­ment doesn’t always have to be explic­itly stated. In fact, it’s often bet­ter to have the audi­ence draw that con­clu­sion them­selves. Some­times, though, it helps to openly call out the com­pe­ti­tion and rhetor­i­cally punch them in the face. But regard­less of which way you accom­plish it, that bit of de-positioning should be part of your ad.

For exam­ple:

When your garage door breaks, call us, because we’re [the only ser­vice cen­ter in this area that is] open 24–7 and have fully stocked trucks capa­ble of fix­ing your door on the first visit, even at night and on week­ends. We’re here when you need us, not just when it’s con­ve­nient. [Unlike the other jerks that are only open dur­ing busi­ness hours]

But that’s just for one ad. When you start talk­ing brand­ing and posi­tion­ing, you’re really talk­ing about campaigns.

Chances are, if you do X because you’re com­mit­ted to Y, then X isn’t the only thing you do.

In fact, you’re prob­a­bly doing an entire alpha­bet full of things dif­fer­ently or bet­ter than the other guy. Actions that point back to the val­ues that drive your com­pany. And a good ad cam­paign will frame all those fac­toids to con­sis­tently estab­lish and sup­port the posi­tion you wish to claim in the mind of the customer.

So each ad, you raise a fac­toid (or an Anec­dote in Ira Glass terms) and you frame it in terms of this value, or brand posi­tion (through a moment of reflection).

And your ads should do all of this while rais­ing ques­tions about why your com­pe­ti­tion doesn’t do these things and whether or not they really care about the cus­tomer at all. Posi­tion your­self; de-position your competitors.

Where Most Adver­tis­ers Go Wrong

Most adver­tis­ers go wrong in three places:

1) They pro­vide no facts, real­ity hooks, or dra­ma­tized moments of need. There is noth­ing to estab­lish cred­i­bil­ity or rel­e­vance. They have no anec­dote or story, so they come off as bor­ing, irrel­e­vant, and/or unbe­liev­able. In the words of Roy H. Williams, the ad is all cheese and no meat. What most adver­tis­ers want to skip to is the fram­ing part, the moment of reflec­tion, where they just openly state what they believe and stand for, and so it comes off as so much solip­sis­tic blah-blah-blah.

2) They try to cram all the facts into a sin­gle ad, rather than string­ing them out into a cam­paign. When you just list the facts, they lose their dra­matic impact, and you’re back to blah-blah-blah land.

3) They state a fea­ture or function—what should be an anec­do­tatl buld­ing block—but don’t con­tex­tu­al­ize or dra­ma­tize it. There’s no inter­est or dra­matic force in the fact they give the audi­ence, so it doesn’t trans­late into rel­e­vance or even all that much cred­i­bil­ity, either.

4) They attempt to posi­tion them­selves, with­out depo­si­tion the brand that already holds that posi­tion in the minds of cus­tomers. If you claim a qual­ity or posi­tion that another brand already owns, you’re really just pay­ing to adver­tise them—unless you depo­si­tion them in order to repo­si­tion yourself.

And that’s Part 1. Stay tuned for part 2 later this week.

* Yes, eco-friendly or green is another qual­ity peo­ple might care about for bat­ter­ies, but then you’re into the land of recharge­ables rather than reg­u­lar old alka­line bat­ter­ies. Dif­fer­ent market.

** Some­times you are lucky enough to have no mean­ing­ful com­pe­ti­tion in your cateogry, allow­ing you to sim­ply claim what you want for a brand posi­tion. And that’s a very good thing. Take advan­tage of it! Also, I’m aware that “depo­si­tion” is a legal term, which is why I’m hyphen­at­ing the word so as to mean un-position. Thanks for indulging me in this : )

 P.S. I’m usu­ally wary of talk­ing about mar­ket­ing or adver­tis­ing in terms of war, sim­ply because the anal­ogy doesn’t hold: in war you can attack the enemy directly, in mar­ket­ing you usally can’t; all you can do is per­suade the cus­tomer. Wal­mart didn’t kill Kmart, we did when we stopped shop­ping at Kmart and started shop­ping at Wal­mart instead. But the anal­ogy is use­ful when describ­ing a zero-sum com­pe­ti­tion. There is only so much mar­ket share, cus­tomer dol­lars, and brand posi­tions avail­able. Either you get them, or the com­pe­ti­tion does. Just keep in mind that the only way to beat the com­pe­ti­tion is to win the customer.   

 

 

22

Apr

by Jeff

com.quora.androidHave you ever heard of Quora?

It’s a Q&A-style social media site. Peo­ple ask ques­tions and gen­uine no-kidding experts answer them. Then mem­bers vote the answers up or down. The Q&As you see in your news­feed depend on who you fol­low, the inter­ests you indi­cate, and (of course) the ques­tions you pose.

My addic­tion to Quora flows from the qual­ity of the answers: they’re almost always insight­ful, experienced-based, and often brilliant.

The List of Trig­gers I Snagged from Quora

At any rate, one of the first Q&As I read on Quara was this one on cog­ni­tive biases: “What are some good exam­ples of biases being exploited in mar­ket­ing?”

And this answer from Kevin William Lord Barry struck me as well worth read­ing, copy­ing, and (even­tu­ally) post­ing and riff­ing on as a (series of) blog post(s) [bold­ing is mine]:

I think exploita­tion is too strong a word. Humans com­mu­ni­ca­tion in gen­eral is an emo­tional thing. In any case, here’s my mas­ter list:

1) Ethos (your per­ceived char­ac­ter) is the most impor­tant, as opposed to an appeal to pathos (emo­tions) or logos (logic).

2) Peo­ple make judg­ments by comparison/anchor­ing.

3) Peo­ple process infor­ma­tion best from sto­ries.

4) Peo­ple are fore­most inter­ested in things that affect them.

5) Break­ing pat­terns gets attention.

6) Peo­ple look to other peo­ple’s deci­sions when mak­ing decisions.

7) Peo­ple will believe things more eas­ily that fit their pre-existent mind­set. The con­verse is also true.

8) Peo­ple han­dle one idea at a time best.

9) Peo­ple want more choices, but are hap­pier with fewer.

10) Peo­ple decide first, then ratio­nal­ize — If peo­ple are stuck with some­thing, they will like it more over time.

11) Expe­ri­ence is mem­ory, the last part of the expe­ri­ence is weighted heavily.”

I’ve got to admit, Kevin cre­ated a pretty good list — why esle would I have reprinted it here? — but…

  • One, it’s hardly exhaus­tive. I bet most of you could think of a few prin­ci­ples and biases well worth adding, and I invite you to do so in the comments,
  • and Two, there’s no com­men­tary, just the bare list, even though each item begs for some elaboration.

So in future posts, I’ll dis­cuss what I’d add to the list, and then move through Kevin’s list and offer a deep-dive on each item. But for now, I’m just kind of inter­ested in your thoughts.

What psy­cho­log­i­cal prin­ci­ples or levers would you read­ers add to or take away from this list?

P.S. I’m sure many of you Cial­dini fans will rec­og­nized item #6 as an expres­sion of Social Proof — which sort of begs one to add the other “Weapons of Influ­ence” to this list of cog­ni­tive exploits. And if you’re not famil­iar with Ciadlini, you can get an excel­lent quick and dirty intro to his 6 Prin­ci­ples of Influ­ence from this video that my col­league, Tim Miles, sent me:

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2014-04-23_0836Balls Beat Brains, Balls Beat Bud­gets” — Andy Nul­man

Adver­tis­ing with heart kicks two ways:

1) Adver­tis­ing with Val­ues &                    Pas­sion (heart = soul)

2) Coura­geous Adver­tis­ing                       (heart = lion hearted) 

And, as you can see, both ways inter­sect in the heart. The word “courage” even comes from the French word for heart, which is why you can not only be coura­geous, but can encour­age oth­ers, help­ing them to “take heart.”

This isn’t just the­ory, either; it’s observ­able fact.

Every small busi­ness adver­tiser I’ve worked with who had the guts to take a strong stand in their adver­tis­ing (and then to back their claims up when the time came) always found the source of their gutsy courage in deeply and pas­sion­ately held beliefs and val­ues. Val­ues imparted through fam­ily tra­di­tions, defin­ing moments, and relationships.

This is impor­tant because it’s the busi­ness own­ers capa­ble of adver­tis­ing with heart that expe­ri­ence the most impres­sive (and sus­tained) growth.

So let’s take a closer look at Andy Nulman’s quote:

Balls Beat Brains

Of course smarts mat­ter and sound strat­egy is cru­cial. But when it comes to small busi­ness adver­tis­ing, the obsta­cles to adopt­ing and imple­ment­ing a sound strat­egy is rarely a lack of smarts or the inabil­ity to come up with (or have a pro­fes­sional come up with) a great strat­egy. The obsta­cle is always a lack of courage to embrace that great strat­egy once it has been presented.

Because great strate­gies are  always gutsy.

This isn’t to say they are risky, though. Often the riski­est thing is NOT to use a gutsy strategy.

Gutsy gets con­fused with risky sim­ply because the iden­tity of a pri­vately owned com­pany is inex­tri­ca­bly tied to the self-image of the owner. So an owner of good taste and respectabil­ity can’t help but react to any nec­es­sar­ily out­ra­geous (i.e. gutsy) adver­tis­ing strat­egy by feel­ing as if it requires tak­ing excep­tional risks with her self image.

Here’s how that usu­ally manifests:

1) “The risk of insult is the price of clarity”

To make an adver­tis­ing claim pow­er­ful, you have to use sur­pris­ing, vivid lan­guage, and your state­ments have to be made with­out the usual con­di­tion­als, exemp­tions, caveats, and con­tex­tual pre­am­bles that would ren­der them per­fectly defensible.

In other words, your words have to be dra­matic. And to be dra­matic you have to “cause a scene,” which is to say you have to exhibit the crass bad man­ners of draw­ing atten­tion to your­self by lever­ag­ing other people’s atten­tional triggers.

Busi­ness own­ers with man­ners don’t want to “cause a scene,” so their nat­ural ten­dency is to wimp on the mes­sag­ing by fil­ing off all the sharp edges from the ads. “We just can’t say that!”

It takes courage (or shame­less­ness in gen­eral) to look at sharp mes­sag­ing strat­egy and com­mit to it with­out flinching.

2) Say­ing what you stand against means mak­ing enemies

This one’s pretty obvi­ous, isn’t it?  If you choose whom to lose and state what you stand against, you’re not only pur­posely exclud­ing some peo­ple and draw­ing a line in the sand, you’re also call­ing out any­one who believes otherwise.

Most busi­ness own­ers don’t want to do that. They want every­one to like them (and give them their busi­ness), so piss­ing off any­one seems like a bad way to adver­tise. Unfor­tu­nately, no busi­ness can be all things to all peo­ple, and you can’t have insid­ers with­out out­siders. You have to be for some­one in par­tic­u­lar, not every­one in gen­eral, if you want your mes­sage to resonate.

So only those busi­ness own­ers with the emo­tional pas­sion to take a stand and the courage to make ene­mies end up with loyal cus­tomers, real brand value, and adver­tis­ing capa­ble of attract­ing and build­ing such.

3) Strong Offers Absent Fine Print Means Occas­sion­ally Tak­ing It On the Chin

My part­ner, Roy Williams calls it “bud­get­ing for the knuck­le­head fac­tor,” and it comes down to this: when you make uncon­di­tional guar­an­tees on some­thing — the qual­ity of your prod­ucts, a no excuse deliv­ery date, an offer of a free trial — you have to over­come the fear that peo­ple will take advan­tage of you.

Make no mis­take, it’s not a base­less fear; a small per­cent­age of peo­ple WILL take advan­tage of you. That small per­cent­age will shame­lessly return an obvi­ously abused or past-the-service-life item and ask for a replace­ment. Or glut­to­nously thieve three or four free tri­als, rather than lim­it­ing them­selves to one. And so on.

Those peo­ple are knuck­le­heads, and yes, you should antic­i­pate and bud­get for their shenani­gans, pre­cisely so that you can take it on the chin and smil­ingly live up to your promise.

Yet the real fear that busi­ness own­ers face isn’t the rea­son­ably assessed risk that a small per­cent­age of peo­ple will take advan­tage of them; it’s the night­mare sce­nario where 30% to 100% of them do. For­tu­nately, that sce­nario only exists in night­mares. Any busi­ness owner with the heart and the courage to face that fear down inevitably finds that the knuck­le­heads make an exceed­ingly small per­cent­age of the population.

Believe it or not, the vast major­ity of peo­ple will treat you fairly, the vast major­ity of the time. Just ask com­pa­nies like Wal­mart and LL Bean and Nord­stroms — com­pa­nies that make uncon­di­tional guar­an­tees and suf­fer the knuck­le­heads in order to enjoy the busi­ness and loy­alty (and prof­its) from the rest of us.

So for small busi­nesses, this kind of adver­tis­ing requires a dou­ble dose of courage: one to look past the irra­tional fear and make the strong promise or guar­an­tee, and another to take it on the chin when the inevitable knuck­le­head forces the issue.

4) Telling Your Gen­e­sis Story Requires Real Vulnerability

Telling an audi­ence about your life-defining moment takes guts because you are openly expos­ing your soul. But it’s also one of the only ways we’ll ever believe in your mis­sion and your irra­tional com­mit­ment to it. As I wrote ear­lier, if you want us to believe in your super­pow­ers, you’ve got to tell us about your gen­e­sis story.

And because telling a gen­e­sis story requires vul­ner­a­bil­ity, includ­ing one in your adver­tis­ing takes guts. It takes heart in both senses of the word. Some busi­ness own­ers have it. Most don’t. Just ask your­self, would you be will­ing to expose some­thing like this:

When I was seven years old, I held my father’s head in my hands as he took his last breath and died. A thing like that stays with you. It helps you under­stand that rela­tion­ships – peo­ple – are what life’s all about.You gotta tell’em you love’em.

This is J.R. Dunn. So now you know why I became a jew­eler. Fine jew­elry is one of the ways we tell peo­ple we love ’em. When I got older and fell head-over-heals for Ann Marie, the love of my life, I didn’t have enough money to buy her an engage­ment ring. She mar­ried me any­way. Go figure.

But I can promise you this: If you’re think­ing of get­ting engaged to the love of your life, come to J.R. Dunn Jew­el­ers in Light­house Point. No one in Florida, no one in Amer­ica, is going to give you a bet­ter engage­ment ring for your money than me. One of the great joys of my life is to make it pos­si­ble for guys to give the woman they love the dia­mond she deserves.

There was nobody there for me when I needed an engage­ment ring. But I promise I’ll be there for you.”

That’s J.R. Dunn’s Gen­e­sis story. And it took real heart to broad­cast it to the world in a radio ad. Would you have the courage to do the same?

Balls Beat Budgets

The for­mula is quite simple:

Salience * Rep­e­ti­tion = Long Term Mem­ory Storage

Salience is just another word for emo­tional impor­tance (aka rel­e­vance). The more emo­tion­ally impor­tant some­thing is, the less rep­e­ti­tion it takes to lodge in your long term memory.

You can prob­a­bly remem­ber how and when you pro­posed to your wife, even though you only pro­posed once (and if you had to pro­pose more than once, that def­i­nitely got per­mantly chis­eled into your con­scious­ness). You can also likely recall exactly where you were and what you were doing when you heard the news about 9–11.

And as a for­mer high school teacher, I can also tell you that the oppo­site is true: as emo­tional impor­tance falls to zero, the num­ber of rep­e­ti­tions required to make some­thing stick approaches infinity.

Coura­geous Adver­tis­ing amps up the emo­tional impor­tance — the sur­prise and the audac­ity — of the ads in order to boost the salience of the mes­sage. Assum­ing, of course, that the mes­sage had any rel­e­vance to the cus­tomer to begin with. Com­mit­ing to a rel­e­vant mes­sage to begin with requires courage, and then accept­ing gutsy wording/copy requires addi­tional courage from the busi­ness owner.

The upshot is that coura­geous ads require sig­nif­i­cantly less rep­e­ti­tion. And in adver­tig­ing, rep­e­ti­tion = money.  That’s how small bud­gets beat big bud­gets, or in Andy’s terms, how Balls Beat Budgets.

Bet­ter yet, auda­cious adver­tis­ing gets it’s own free press and atten­tion — on an order way beyond what even most big bud­gets can buy.  Just ask the cre­ators of the Poo Pourri video below how much free news cov­er­age and viral shar­ing their video received. It’s on the order of hun­dreds of mil­lions. And it was made for just a few thou­sand dollars.

YouTube Preview Image

Of course, it takes some audac­ity to make an ad like that, but that’s the point, isn’t it?

And it’s not just about videos. This applies to pub­lic­ity stunts, sig­nage, store dec­o­ra­tion, direct mail pack­ages — every­thing. Audac­ity gets noticed, remarked on, and spread by word of mouth, social media, news, etc. This is another way that balls beat budget.

Of course, audac­ity is one thing, but audac­ity that reflects your val­ues and deeply held beliefs is even bet­ter. Remem­ber, it’s best to com­bine both mean­ings of courage — heart and balls.

That’s why effec­tive adver­tis­ing is almost always coura­geous advertising.