First of all, I must say that I do everything in my power to avoid watching traditional television – and especially commercials. If I saw a random list of titles, I would fail at identifying the vast majority of shows that are on “prime time”. I just don’t have time and I don’t have the patience to sit through two dozen commercials to watch nineteen minutes of a “30-minute” sit-com. I rely on Netflix and my DVR and then, whenever I watch taped programs, I fast-forward through commercials.

However, it’s hard to avoid all commercials  – even when you have a fast-forward button. And I saw one recently that really made me stop in my tracks. I even rewound it a couple of times. Yes, it was a Geico commercial. Of course. Don’t those always make you pay attention?

Since I was so engaged by this commercial, I asked myself: What were they trying to sell me? (Yes, car insurance, but what is the deeper thing they are trying to sell me?) Why THAT music. Why THAT actor? Why THAT location? Why THOSE words? Why that storyline?

And why did they choose to be on during that program? What about that program’s demographics were ripe for exploiting by this car insurance company? In what way were they trying to influence the viewer?

It’s a safe bet that a program like Modern Family will have a very different set of commercials than some cop drama, don’t ya think? And there are so many varieties of Geico ads. They surely use a different scenario for America’s Got Talent, then they would for a hospital drama series.

Here’s the kicker: after years of exposure and the many thousands of plays of the various Geico commercials we have all seen, when I said it was a Geico commercial, I’ll bet most of you (in the US) had an example pop into your mind. And wherever you are in the world, you have something like a Geico in your advertising – some kind of TV ads that actually keep you engaged. There are some ads that you enjoy seeing again. And there are some companies that you know will have a great ad, so when you see a new ad from them, you are all ears for the new content.

Advertisers spend small fortunes to create a 30-second ad. Magazine ads, newspaper ads and, of course, the painfully in-your-face online ads are all costly to create and distribute. Add to that, the marketing gurus pay more for certain ad placement strategies. The back cover of any magazine is expensive. An ad during the Super Bowl has legendary costs!

Here’s an assignment

What can we learn? It’s time for you to make an effort to study some of the multi-million dollar ad strategies. What emotional response are they chasing down? Again – why that music, those actors, that storyline, etc?

What do they know that you can learn from? What heart-strings or funny bone are they hoping to arouse? Speaking of arousing, what about the huge influx of sexual innuendo or just plain in your face hormone arousing tactics that show up everywhere. Even on public billboards! Are we even shocked anymore?

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting you need to add anything tawdry into your marketing plans, but getting someone to sit up and take notice means taking some roads less traveled. I am assuming you don’t have millions to spend – lol – so it’s actually more important that you pay serious attention before you commit to any marketing plan or before you pony up real money for ads on social media sites or spend time creating an email marketing campaign.

Maybe, you need to be outrageous from time to time. Maybe you need to find a new set of words to describe your work. Maybe you need to add photos of you on your website that show you being a bit goofy or extra lovable somehow (got a dog?). Maybe you need to do something that will create a sense of “what is THIS person all about” when someone first discovers you via whatever marketing channels you use.

Pay extra close attention to ads for cars, perfume, drugs, and health/beauty products. Listen to the words. Listen to the hidden messages. They can be subtle, but you really want to drill down on the messaging.

Now it’s your turn

After you have spent a little time analyzing the marketing geniuses, it’s time to put your own offers into this extreme light of day. In order to “wow” and get noticed consider the following:

  1. Have a strong, compelling, and memorable brand.
  2. Be authentic, but be a bit bigger than life. Think “stage makeup” and play to the back row.
  3. Be consistent in the message, point-of-view, and frequency with which you reach out to your core audience.
  4. Know enough about who your audience is so that they feel connected and become a loyal follower.
  5. Steal from your competition. Not directly, but try to see what they do that you can incorporate into your marketing.
  6. Be confident. Be yourself. Be inviting. Know what your end game is and “make the ask”.

Be brave. In other words, don’t be shy about wanting people to engage and become patrons. If you are afraid to ask them to buy, they might not even think you want them to buy. If you are uncomfortable, that spreads into everything you say or do. (Or don’t say or don’t do.)

The winners at business are part of a brave, resolute, and resilient tribe of people who trust their core values and who believe that they are worthy of getting attention and earning a decent income for their efforts.

Watch a little TV. Get a little inspiration. Get out a piece of paper and start planning your next marketing adventure. Okay… don’t roll your eyes at me. You knew this was coming: “just do it”!

And as always, let me know in the comments what marketing efforts you have used successfully in the past OR what you are considering in the future.


Need some guidance? I have an offer you should NOT refuse.

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C’mon… Let’s get some ideas brewing!

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