There’s a bank in our city that provides a good lesson for us on how to get the most from our marketing. They have several billboards that billboards say something like:
“Hate ATM fees?”
“So do we. Stop on in!”
This always makes me wonder. Do they charge ATM fees or not?
Because, if they don’t charge ATM fees, why don’t they just say that?
But what they said was, they don’t like ATM fees. Which is different than saying they don’t charge ATM fees. It’s not clear. It’s vague.
The problem with being vague is that it’s not believable.
We all know how coy most advertising has gotten over the last few decades. Ad agencies design creative, clever ads that suggest and imply things. But when push comes to shove, that’s all they do. Most advertising copy is empty of real meaning because they either don’t offer what they imply or their legal beagles won’t let them get specific.
Either way, the result is too much marketing that says nothing.
So, if you’re going to claim something that sets you apart from most of your competitors then you better be specific about it. You need to plant your flag and stand by it so people believe what you say.
Being coy or clever (and therefore ambiguous) is a waste of time and money.
This bank has painted themselves into a corner with these billboards.
If they do charge ATM fees then their ads are misleading. When people find out they’ll be angry because the ads imply that they don’t charge ATM fees. Even if they have some complicated system where they charge some ATM fees but not others, people will still feel lied to. And they should.
If they don’t charge any ATM fees then they’ve wasted a perfect opportunity to step out in front of their competitors. They should make it 100% clear and obvious that they don’t charge ATM fees.
Maybe they could say something clever like:
“We don’t charge ATM fees.”
(Crazy idea, I know)
The best advertising tells gives people a good reason to consider doing business with you. It does so by delivering a credible message that you can do something for them that your competitors can’t or won’t do. (Like not charge them ATM fees.)
Spend your marketing dollars wisely. Tell your story to your customers. Tell them how you’ll make their lives better and give them a reason to believe you. Do this by being specific about what you can do for them. Give them details and hard information.
Forget the fluffy, clever quips and the vague, fuzzy ambiguities. They might entertain but they don’t deliver results.
If you truly believe in what you do you should be proud of it. Proud enough to tell people about it.
But even more, you should feel obligated to tell people.
If you have the ability to help someone in a way that no one else does, you need to tell people. You’re doing them a favor by informing them of how you can help them.
Smart Marketing means you tell your story to your audience in a way that makes them want to respond. They won’t respond if they don’t understand or trust you.
And you build understanding and trust by being clear, specific and direct. It works every time!