Vague does not work in plumbing ads or any other advertising.
Since he is so much in the news of late, let us use JOE THE PLUMBER to build an example and show the difference between vague selling pointS that rarely get noticed or acted upon and a tangible message that gets attention and is likely to spur action.
Joe decides that his main unique selling point is quick service. After all, no one wants to wait around all day for a plumber (or any trades person) to show up.
Like most small business owners, Joe needs his advertising to generate immediate business. He puts together an ad that reads something like this:
Call Joe the Plumber for Speedy Service
*Trenchless sewer lines
*Sewer Inspections by Video
24 hours - 7 days a week
Joe dresses up the ad with a clever line art graphic that portrays a plumber on the run with a monkey wrench in his right hand.
Is this ad typical? You bet it is. Is this ad effective? No, because it is VAGUE! There is no concrete reason for you to believe that Joe will live up to YOUR expectation of SPEEDY.
The ad that Joe proposes to run does not have to be larger. It does not have to be in color. It certainly should not run more than once!
In short, the ad Joe proposes is pretty much a waste of money. It is because VAGUE is never effective. VAGUE equals FUZZY which means that this ad reads, sounds and looks pretty much like every other plumbing ad.
The words fail to differentiate the services Joe offers from the dozens of other companies touting the exact same thing. SPEEDY probably means something different to Joe than it does to his customers.
What happens when we attach a dollar amount to SPEEDY? Not an amount that will break the bank but one large enough to put some teeth into the message of speedy service.
How about $50! Fifty bucks is a nice round number that makes clear that Joe takes SPEEDY seriously and certainly large enough to get the attention of someone needing the services Joe offers.
Our new headline reads On time or I will pay you $50!
Customers want Joe to show up when he says he will show up (or before). If Joe says 5 p.m. it better be by 5 p.m. or sooner. If not, you pocket fifty bucks!
That wording puts some teeth into ON TIME. We have now made it clear what Joe means by SPEEDY and ON TIME.
If you compare the words in the first ad with those in the revision, you have a good example of the difference between a broad selling point and a concrete message.
The first ad implies speedy but leaves the real definition up to the reader or listener. The revision spells it out and makes it crystal clear. Small changes. Huge difference in perception.
Making the words in your advertising mean something (to your audience) is definitely not brain surgery but it also is not easy to do. You need to think about the message you are trying to convey. You need to become your prospect. You need to role play in your mind.
Share your message with a friend or family member and ask them to tell you what they think it means. If they cannot or if their interpretation does not match up with yours, chances are your words are too vague to be effective.
Go back to the drawing board and put some meat on the bone.
Bob Schumacher books and articles give entrepreneurs a clear coffee-shop English perspective on how to steer their business or profession into the top 20% who achieve 80% of the business and profits. Visit http://www.RedMeatMarketing.com for a complete directory of his articles and books.