Complaints are good!

Complaints. You hate ‘em right? Well… I love them! What a great sign that your advertising is working. I get it that you may be reluctant to attract negative attention to your business. It’s a fair assessment. But, you need to remember who you’re selling your message too. Usually the people complaining about your advertising message are not the people that would shop in your store. There are a few good reasons why receiving complaints about your advertising is a fantastic thing. Here’s a small list of points! It means your ad stands out – This is one of the biggest advantages of going a little beyond your comfort zone. I’d much rather piss off a few people to be noticed by thousands. The blander you make your message, the more it fades into the background. You can make a very PC, inoffensive, and ultimately boring ad if you like. But, I promise you it will not get noticed. Would Howard Stern be what he is today if he didn’t push his boundaries? Now, I’m not saying that you should make your commercials filthy or gross in anyway. You need to maintain your businesses brand. What I am saying, is there will be a point when a line stands out as “borderline offensive.” When that day comes, be brave and stay with it. It will serve you well in the end. Remember, sometimes you need to turn some people away to attract the clients you want. Don’t be afraid to thin the herd. Your ad will stand out, and your business will boom.

It means it’s targeting your audience better – That’s right. Don’t worry about the few people who send in angry emails and phone calls. Those are not your clientele. Those people are the litmus test that tells you that you have a powerful advertisement. They aren’t the people that will visit your business. They represent the minority. For every complaint you receive, 100 other people have heard your advertisement and enjoyed it. If you try to please everyone in your commercial, you will end up with a weak ad that attracts no one. Don’t settle for being the guy who hides in the corner at the party. Go get a beer bong and chug! If you don’t stand out, you do not exist. It’s time to go streaking.

It means you’re expanding on your brand – It’s ok to have a “left of centre” brand. It can work for many businesses, and not just the obvious ones. It’s easy to think that a commercial for a bar can be racy. People go there to get drunk, so why shouldn’t you push the limit. I don’t disagree. It fits. But, I think more businesses should consider this approach in non-traditional categories. Why can’t a furniture store step across the line? Or a hair stylist? Or anybody? I honestly think there’s more value for those businesses than there is for the bar. How many furniture stores out there run the exact same style of commercial? They either yell about their “unbelievable sale prices,” or they talk about their “luxurious upscale brands.” It’s all a little boring don’t you think? The mere fact that so many businesses chase down this type of brand is exactly why someone should rage against it. Be different. Surprise people. Offend people. Attract a different audience than everyone else in your category does. Stand out from the crowd. The more you start to think this way, the sooner you will develop an effective brand that differentiates you from your competitors.

Here’s an example of a commercial I produced that would get lots of complaints. It would also attract a lot of qualified customers.

[audio:|titles=ABC GUN RANGE (POLICE) NOV30]

I’ve gone to the “ABC Gun Range” well before on my blog, but I just really like the approach. There’s a lot of life in that brand. If I sold that spot to someone, I would advise them to measure its effectiveness in complaints. The more complaints you receive from this ad, the better it has worked for you. I guarantee you somebody will be offended by the thought of stealing a police officer’s gun. But, that thought will also resonate with a lot of would be outlaws. 99.9% of which would never ever actually do something like that. Embrace your complaints. They mean you’re doing something that connects with people emotionally.