Why advertising fails

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by Jim Armstrong

(Third of three parts)

In the first two installments of this series, I listed the three reasons most advertising fails floor dealers and then discussed the first two. There is a lot of misunderstanding among floor dealers about advertising, and retailers are unaware of alternatives, to brand building types of marketing.

The final reason why most dealers’ advertising fails comes as a result of the first two. Put simply, because of the misunderstanding about advertising and being unaware of alternatives retailers wind up copying each other’s methods.

Unfortunately, knowing the technical aspects of flooring—installation, product knowledge, etc.— does not necessarily make you good at marketing and selling. Marketing and selling flooring require a completely different skill set.

Since most dealers have not been trained in using direct response marketing, they are not sure how to promote their businesses. Almost by default they look around at what other retailers in their neighborhood are doing and copy them. Albeit with some minor changes, but by and large their marketing messages are virtually identical to their competitors versions.

Want proof? Pull up your website and those of your competitors. I’ll bet you all of them have the business name at the top, tabs (or bullets) listing their products, and contact information. I call these name, rank and serial number sites. Even though the graphics and colors are different, the marketing messages are the same.

Does your website, or other advertising for that matter, answer the unspoken question on every prospect’s mind? “Why should I do business with you instead of your competitors?” If not, then you’re setting yourself up to compete on cheap price.

Some web designers and other advertising professionals make the problem worse. The first thing they do is pull up flooring websites and begin pointing to your competitors’ sites and saying things such as you could do one like this…or this…”

That is the entire problem in a nutshell. This kind of thinking also infects newspapers, Yellow Pages, radio and TV ads.

Just because everyone else is creating these kinds of ads doesn’t mean they are working. Earl Nightingale once said, “The crowd is always wrong.” He also pointed out if you don’t have a good success model to follow, look at what everyone else is doing and then do the exact opposite.

That is excellent advice. Following everyone else a dangerous mindset; you might wind up following them off a cliff.

I teach my Inner Circle members one of the most powerful ways to stop following other floor dealers and to set themselves apart is through the use of a unique selling proposition (USP). A good USP focuses on a specific, concrete benefit to the customer. It’s the opposite of a universal selling proposition.

Some examples include:

Universal Selling Propositions

•We carry wood, laminate, carpet, tile and vinyl

•Financing available

•Free estimates

Unique Selling Propositions

•When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight (Fed Ex)

•Fresh hot pizza delivered in 30 minutes or less (Dominos)

•We’ll arrive on time or we take 10% off your bill

Financial empires have been created on the strength of a good USP. Taking the time to craft a strong USP will go a long way toward differentiating you from your competitors. Be careful not to slip into simply reworking tired, worn-out universal selling propositions like those mentioned above.

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