It isn't that we don't like ads. We actually do. We tune in to the Super Bowl just to see the ads. We like great ads. We watch and listen to great ads. We talk about great ads. We remember great ads. Just this morning one of my employees came in and said, "Time to make the donuts." And everyone over thirty knew exactly what she meant.
The problem is that most ads suck. They aren't interesting. They aren't memorable. No one wants to listen to them, let alone repeat them. Yet there is hope.
One way to make your ads more interesting is to understand your listener. She tuned in to the radio to hear music and stories. So give her what she wants. Maybe not music (unless you're a professional musician and accomplished songwriter), but you can definitely tell stories.
Tell your best stories, the ones that show who you really are, the ones that line up with your Core Values. They don't have to be long, just interesting. Here are some examples of 30-second radio ads that I have used over the years. Remember that my Core Values are Fun, Helpful, Educational, and Nostalgic. See if you can figure out which one is which...
Ice Cream – June ‘10
I served them ice cream. 8:30 in the morning and I served my staff ice cream. Some looked at me like I was crazy. Others dug right in. Yeah, I’m a little unconventional that way. Kinda like how we staff the store. I have more staff on the floor than stores double our size. Some think I’m crazy. Others love it. There’s always someone available to help you. It takes a little more ice cream, but it’s worth every scoop. Toy House in downtown Jackson. We’re here to make you smile.
Home for Christmas –Dec '06
Christmas Eve, nineteen sixty-five. He didn't know if he would make it. Nine months of active duty, he missed his family. And he was an uncle now. His sister had a baby girl, a precious little child for which a stuffed animal from an airport gift shop just wouldn't do. As his dad picked him up in the family sedan, he asked, “We got time to stop by the Toy House?” “Of course, son. Welcome home.” Merry Christmas from the Toy House in downtown Jackson where Christmas magic happens.
Game Night – April ‘09
The big four-oh, Whatever she wanted. Dancing? Dining? Dinner and a movie? Her birthday, her choice. She chose Game Night. A dozen friends playing Pictionary, Yahtzee, Egyptians, Empire Builder. Eight of us rolling on the floor laughing playing a new game called Consensus. Four of us still laughing at two a.m. Yeah Game Night. How hard did you laugh on your last birthday? Toy House in downtown Jackson. We’re here to make you smile.
The Trunk – July 2012
My grandfather had a trunk. He filled it with his favorite toys and drove them all around, telling their tales, how these toys would be the most beloved toys in the toy box, the kind of toys you kept because you knew your grandkids would enjoy them, too. The trunk may be in storage, but the lessons about great toys are still the same. Stop in and see us. We’ll teach you what we know. Grandpa knew a few things about toys in his day. We still do. Toy House in downtown Jackson. Great toys to make you smile.
You have stories. Every business does. Tell them and people will listen.
PS There are a number of ways to make your ads more memorable. Telling stories is just one. We'll look at a couple more ways over the next few posts. But for those of you who want more stories, here are some of my favorites.
My all time favorite...
The Men’s Bathroom – August ‘08
I couldn't believe it. They were taking customers into the men’s bathroom. Yes, my staff was taking men and women, young and old into our men’s bathroom. And the customers were coming out laughing and giggling, oh yeah, and buying, too. I guess when you find a product that cool, you just have to show it off however and wherever you can. (laugh) The men’s bathroom, gotta love it. Toy House in downtown Jackson. We’re here to make you smile.
A series of three...
When She Was Three – Oct ‘10
When she was three she galloped down the aisles on stick horses. At six, she brushed the mane of her My Little Pony. At nine she used her own allowance to start her Breyer Horse collection. And on her sixteenth birthday, she drove the car here just for a book on how to draw horses. Now on her way to college, her parents wanted a gift. I handed them Horse-opoly. They smiled and said, “How did you know?” Just a guess. Toy House in downtown Jackson. We’re here to make you smile.
His First Car – Oct ‘10
His first car was a coupe that he drove Fred Flintstone style up and down the drive. As he got bigger his cars got smaller until they fit in the palm of his hand. Fast cars, fancy cars, fun cars - he owned hundreds. Now he’s a graduate. His parents smiled when we showed them how to hide the real car keys inside the box of the model car. Don’t know which he liked more. The model was built and painted before the weekend was over. Toy House in downtown Jackson. We’re here to make you smile.
Horses and Cars – Nov ‘10
She saw the model car on his desk. He was a man of detail. He saw her drawings of horses. She had talent and passion. On their wedding they compromised, he promised not to wear the NASCAR jacket if she didn't wear the cowboy boots. But when they said it was a boy, we were ready with both horses and cars. Once again they found a compromise. They smiled when they saw it – Froggies. Toy House and Baby Too. No matter where you are in life, we’re here to make you smile.
My favorite memory...
Earliest Christmas Memory – Dec 07
What is your earliest Christmas memory? Mine was grandma and grandpa sitting on a bench handing my sister and me our gifts. I was only three, but I tore open that package with the speed of a six-year-old. A towel, a white, Raggedy Ann towel. I smiled a big smile, unfolded my towel and plopped down. I couldn’t figure out why my sister was crying. After all, she got Raggedy Andy and he’s way cooler. Merry Christmas from the Toy House in downtown Jackson. We’re here to make you smile
New Dad – Sept 09
He came in needing help. One look at the dark circles under his eyes and the telltale plastic wristband, I knew there was only one thing to say. Congratulations. He smiled and said, “Thanks. It’s a girl. They’re coming home today. Can you help me install my car seat?” Of course I can. I’d be happy to. Welcome to the club, Daddy. Toy House in downtown Jackson – get your car seat installed for free because we’re here to make you smile.