A Priest, A Rabbi And A CEO Walk Into A Bar …

October 17, 2013
BY Jon Goldman

Today with people’s short attention spans, companies that advertise sometimes are challenged in drawing attention to their ads.

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.  Your audience is not all that interested in your business. But they are interested in learning how:  how to look better, how to feel better, how to have more confidence and/or how to be more successful. They want to take something useful away from your ads. And you can make your ads useful.

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 your target audience.

Teach your audience and make them smile at the same time, dually educating and entertaining. I call this edu-tainment. For example, if you own a clothing store, instead of another ad with a stock photography model, take a page out of David Letterman’s book. Letterman has taken Top 10 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 Jewish businessmen in Baltimore? Lists not only resonate with potential customers, but also generate free publicity. Here’s another tip: Sometimes telling people what not to do is a great way to provide an entertaining and informative list.  For example, create a list of the Top 10 common fashion mistakes made by men (i.e., socks with sandals).

Another popular option today is with an info-graphic, using graphics to visually depict the message. For example, you might feature different types of shirts (spread-collar shirts, two-tone shirts, silk shirts, fight shirts, Bahamas shirts, etc.), and create an info-graphic centered around which men wear each type of shirt.  Good info-graphics go viral and can generate additional publicity for you.

So when preparing your ads, think like a comedian who works long hours to hone in on what will grab the attention of his audiences. Make a list of what interests your potential buyers, and write your copy with them in mind. If you would like to run some ad copy by me, I would be happy to let you know if it would score points with your audience.

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