410.235.7070 Join Our E-Letter
businessGPS Taking You From Where You Are to Where You Want to Go.

A Priest, a Rabbi and a CEO walk into a bar...

A Priest, a Rabbi and a CEO walk into a bar...

August 22, 2013

The following question came in from Max R. in New York: Every week I run an ad promoting my clothing store. It is hard to find things to promote. For example, how many times can I put in something about our exceptional customer service or to come in for the latest styles? How do I keep readers looking forward to my ads?


Hi Max,

If you’ve ever been to a comedy club, you know that the big laughs come from the comics who talk about topics that resonate with their audiences.  Whether it’s about problems with technology, dating woes, raising kids, or uncomfortable airline seats, they talk about what their audiences relate to…   

  • Dentists tell you not to pick your teeth with any sharp metal object. Then you sit in their chair, and the first thing they grab is an iron hook. (Bill Cosby)

  • Bowling's great. You've got to love a sport where you can eat while you're playing. (Jim Gaffigan)

  • Wal-Mart says they’re lowering prices every day; shouldn’t something be free by now? (Café Mom)

  • How many of you are new parents?  Have you noticed the warning on portable strollers? It says: Remove child before folding. Really? (Rich Mintzer) 

Advertising works the same way. You want to stop talking about yourself and start talking about whatever your potential customers relate to. As marketing guru Dan Kennedy puts it, “You want to move from being an unwelcome pest to a welcomed guest.”


Give People What They Want

The old way of advertising was “what we do. The new way is “how to do.  Your audience is not all that interested in your business. But they are interested in learning how -- how to look better, dress better, feel better, and have more confidence.

They want to take something useful away from your ads. And you can make your ads useful.

How can you achieve this?  For starters, here’s a tip.  Look at your ads and any time it says “we,” “us,” “me,” or “mine,” change it to “you” or “yours.”  Make it all about them.  

More importantly, you’ve got to pack some benefit into the ads. If people look at your ads each week and get something from them, they’ll look forward to your next ad and the one after that. 



You can educate and entertain your potential customers at the same time  I call this edu-tainment.  Let’s use a clothing store like yours as an example. What would be useful and interesting? A brief guide on dressing for success. An article answering the question, How casual is too casual?

Here's a picture of my sweatshirt. Its from a promotion that we did for Sinai Wellbridge Fitness that was wildy successful. We put this cartoon on a sweatshirt as an incentive for a referal.  Look, here are some guidelines on buying the right clothing for your body type (if you’re overweight, vertical stripes make you look thinner; if you’re underweight, horizontal stripes make you look heavier; and if you’re in total denial about your weight, just wear plaid).

By teaching your audience and making them smile at the same time you are both educating and entertaining. And that’s an approach that will make your customers notice - and enjoy - your ads.


Top 10 Lists

David Letterman has taken top ten lists to a new height in American culture.  Yet he doesn’t hold a patent on such lists.  So why not post a list of the Top 10 Best Dressed Men in Corporate America, or a list of the Top 10 Styles Businessmen Should Wear this Fall?  Lists not only resonate with potential customers but can generate free publicity. Here’s a tip: sometimes telling people what NOT to do is a great way to provide an entertaining and informative list.  For example:

                           Top 10 Common Fashion Mistakes Made by Men

1. Wearing clothes that are too large:  In hopes of greater comfort (or to hide a beer belly) many men wear clothes off-the-rack larger than their actual sizes. Buy fitted clothing or find a tailor to help you out.

2. Too-short, Too-long, Too-wide, or Too-skinny ties: The point of the tie should be at the belt buckle. Keep your eyes open so you know whether narrow or wide ties are in fashion.

3. Bulging pockets: Clean out the wallet and carry only the keys you need. 

4. Dressing too loudly: Bright colors can draw attention, but they can also draw unappreciated comments like “What were you thinking?”

5. Wrinkled shirts:  Ironing or dry cleaning makes a big difference. Clothes shouldn’t look like they were slept in, even if they were.

6. Mismatched Accessories: Women are much better at this than men. Here’s the basic rule: match your leather. That means the color of your belt should match your shoes and even your watch band.

7. Prominent logos:  In hopes of showing off designer clothes, huge logos can make you look like a walking billboard.

8. Short sleeves with a tie: Unless it’s 110 degrees, this doesn’t work. Actually, even if it’s 110 degrees, this still doesn’t work.

9. Light colored socks with black shoes:  Dark shoes, dark socks.

10. Socks with sandals: Just don’t do it.

You see, when you offer helpful edutainment your customers and prospects are more inclined to do business with you.


Another popular option today is to say it in an infographic. For example, you might feature different types of shirts -- spread collar shirt, two-tone shirt, silk shirt, fight shirt, Bahamas shirt, polo shirt, v-neck T-shirt, work shirt, and so on -- and create an infographic centered around which men wear each type of shirts.  Purse Pixie a women’s clothing & accessories store made the infographic below, which zeroes in on what type of handbag different women prefer. Good infographics go viral.



So, What Do Comics and Advertising Copywriters Have in Common?

A lot more than most would think. They work long hours to hone in on what will grab the attention of their audiences, whether they are seeking laughs or sales or both.  So why not make a list of what interests your potential buyers and write your copy with them in mind?      

If you’d like to run some ad copy by us, we’ll be happy to let you know if we think it will score points with your audience.

Thanks for the question, Max. We welcome business or marketing questions to blog@BrandLauncher.com.