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Brainstorms

Give Your Advertising the Black Marker Test

Try this test to see if you’re standing out.

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IS YOUR ADVERTISING sufficiently different? Is it helping you stand out, or is it just blending into the drone/clutter of marketing messages surrounding consumers in your town.

Here’s one test you can try to find out, suggested by the bloodthirstily-titled marketing book Do It! Marketing: 77 Instant-Action Ideas To Boost Sales, Maximize Profits and Crush Your Competition by David Newman.

Take your ad (it also works with brochures, websites or any other marketing material) and an equivalent piece from your competitor and put them side by side. Black out both company names. Then ask yourself the following questions, and answer honestly:

Could my advertising material be mistaken for the other company’s? Could I just cut out my competitor’s name and put mine on it? Is there any chance my prospects wouldn’t know the difference between the two companies at a glance?

So, how did you do? Try running the same test on your staff, family and customers and see how you do then.

If you’re not passing this test, it’s time to take a different approach to your marketing.

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David Squires is the Group Editorial Director of SmartWork Media. He believes that the first role of business media is to inspire readers.

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Brainstorms

Keep a Good Time Journal to Better Design Your Life

And overcome feeling uninspired at work by doing more of what you love.

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Feeling uninspired at work? Before you do something drastic like trade your business for a timeshare in Bali or resign yourself to a life of drudgery, try keeping a “Good Time Journal,” say Stanford professors Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, authors of the book Designing Your Life. For three weeks, keep track of your daily activities and keep an eye out for those you enjoy the most. Then try to redesign your current schedule so you do more of what you love and less of what makes you go “Ugh.” Success usually flows from things that make you happy. It may lead to a whole new optical business built around what you love doing most.

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Brainstorms

Have You Heard of the Diderot Effect?

It’s a psychological phenomenon that could help you close more sales.

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The Diderot Effect refers to the way a newly purchased product fails to deliver on the happiness it promised, and instead causes our other possessions to suddenly look timeworn and in need of replacement. It takes its inspiration from an essay by the enlightenment philosopher Denis Diderot in which he laments how a new dressing gown has made his other clothes look like rags and he suddenly feels “discordant.” How to put this psychological weakness into play? In much the same way Ikea or any home goods retailer does: Through suggested add-ons. (“Now that you’re ordering that new dining table, shouldn’t you consider those plates, too?) Is it manipulative? We’d argue not. It’s not your fault a stylish new pair of sunglasses is suddenly making his readers look beaten up and, let’s be honest, when you take a close look, a little shabby. “I was the master of my old dressing gown,” Diderot laments in the end. “But I have become a slave to my new one.”

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Brainstorms

Alliterate or Die!

Same sound success for staying top of mind.

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“Alliterate or die!” That was a poster a former colleague saw pasted to a newsroom wall while doing a shift at the infamous British tabloid The Sun. Alliteration’s power to make words stick owes itself to the repetition of sounds. It’s something a lot of retailers know, hence “Taco Tuesdays,” “Wine Down Wednesdays,” or “Saturday Style.” Indeed, once you get started, it’s pretty hard to stop: Fried Food Fridays, Mending Mondays … Okay, that last one’s not great, but there must be something to get people thinking about your store for all their eyecare needs … Frame Fix Fridays? … every frame repair brought in comes with a discount that can be applied toward a new pair?

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