Choosing and Using Advertising to Make Your Business the Obvious Choice

There is a concept in business that we marketers call the confidence gap. The confidence gap is defined as a potential customers inability to determine whether the products or services of a given company are any better, different, or worse than the competition’s.

The confidence gap exists in every imaginable industry and in most cases the gap is growing wider all of the time.

Case in point: go to the yellow pages and look under the roofing section (or any section for that matter) and see for yourself if, plus or minus 10%, every ad says basically the same thing. “Dependability, service, 80 years of experienceâÂ?¦.blah, blah, blah.”

Going by the yellow pages alone it’s almost impossible to tell who will really offer the best service, the best overall value, and exactly what you need as a customer. It would be helpful if some ads said, “We stink, we won’t deliver on our promises, we’ll quote you one price and then charge you another,” but they don’t. Every company good or bad is essentially saying the same thing. As consumers we know that not all companies are equal – but how can we tell? Hence, the confidence gap.

But, this problem is not isolated to the yellow pages. Take any medium – TV, radio, print, or brochures and compare what competitive companies are doing. You’ll see very quickly that there is almost no significant differentiation. Oh, sure, one company may have a red ad and another a blue ad. One company may have a catchy jingle and the other may not, but it’s still hard to tell which company is actually better or even which company gives greater promise of being the best choice.

One area of marketing that is atrocious for most businesses is their brochure. Most brochures are loaded with clichÃ?©s, worn out phrases, and platitudes that don’t mean anything. Like “dependability, quality, and service.” Any company on the planet could make a claim like that and you would still have no clue if there business was any good or not.

So what about your brochure? Does it make you the obvious choice to do business with, or does it just widen the confidence gap?

Here is a quick 4-pronged test to give your brochure – or your other advertising – to see if it has the potential of singling your company out as THE go-to company.

1. Does your ad clearly communicate your USP (Unique Selling Proposition)? Most companies don’t have a clearly defined USP. Your USP is what makes you different, better, and unique from your competition. Here are a few famous examples: “When it absolutely positively HAS to be there overnight.” Of course your know that to be FedEx. The success of this Fortune 500 company was built largely on the strength of this USP that they could absolutely deliver overnight. Here’s another one – “Hot pizza delivered fresh to your door in 30 minutes or less or it’s FREE.” Dominoes pizza, right? You see how they didn’t claim to be the best tasting, the cheapest (or the most expensive); they were the fastestâÂ?¦guaranteed.

So what is your USP? Are you the fastest in your industry? Do you offer a level of service and expertise that your competitors can’t touch? Does your product do what other products can’t? If so, SAY IT! And communicate it clearly. Your USP should be the focal point for your brochure.

2. Are you showing or telling? I’m from Missouri the “Show-me” state. I guess we are a group of “we’ll believe it when we see it” types. But I don’t think this attitude is limited to Missouri, every consumer everywhere would rather see that your product or service will deliver rather than just hearing you talk about it. So how can you effectively SHOW how your product or service works in the confines of a brochure? There are several ways: 1. Testimonials. Good ones show exactly how your product or services have impacted a real person’s life. 2. Charts, graphs, and comparison. If you can save people money create an easy to read chart or graph that shows how much you’ll save them. If you outperform the competition show that in a comparison of some type. Show you product in use if possible. Showing is always more powerful and more persuasive than tellingâÂ?¦

3. Are you speaking the customer’s language or your own? Most brochures read more like a brag report or like the CEO patting him or herself on the back rather than offering valuable info to the prospect. Your brochure should be focused on your customer and his or her needs – not just your company. Yes, you want to show that you have won awards and what not, but you have to go beyond just mentioning your accomplishments and show how you can enrich your customer’s lives.

4. Are your speaking in specific or general terms? People are leery of generalities, but more trusting of specifics. If you say you will save people “a ton of money” that is significantly less powerful than saying that on average your customers save 25% or $100 when they start using your product or service. If you say you are the fastest – quantify how much faster you are and tell your customer why it should be important to them. Specifics are rich with meaning and are powerfulâÂ?¦generalities are worthless. Anyone can say that they are the best. Only a few companies can give the proper specifics to prove it.

Here’s your assignment: take your brochure or ads and compare it to your competition’s brochures or ads. Now, try to imagine what your reaction would be if you had no previous knowledge of you company, your competitor’s companies, or your industry. Would any of the brochures cause you to say “wow – I would be a fool not to do business with THAT company?”

My guess is that none will even come close. If your advertising is under performing then go to work on the four things mentioned above.

Don’t let your ads widen the confidence gap – span that gap. That’s where the money isâÂ?¦on the other side of the confidence gap.

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