Air Your Dirty Laundry

Who says a bad thing has to be a bad thing?!? Sometimes, the biggest negative about your business is the best topic to tackle for your advertising campaign. And no, I don’t mean that you should advertise that the health inspector has shut you down repeatedly for violations. We’ll sweep that one under that table with the unrefrigerated chicken. What I do mean is the biggest challenges your business faces can be spun into good points. Either that, or they can be explained correctly. Sometimes common opinion about your establishment isn’t particularly true. That doesn’t mean you should ignore it. Popular opinion is truth. That’s why we don’t call Alexander the Great “Alexander the Adequate.”

So, you got some issues, deserved or not. You’re not alone. The best course of action is usually to confront them head on in your advertising. Sometimes you can spin something bad as a good thing. This happens a lot when businesses mention their poor locations in their ads. I’ve heard a lot of spots where it explains that the business pays less for their crappy location and they pass the savings on to the customer. That’s a simple idea of turning a negative into a positive.

Some businesses might have bigger problems though. How do you spin real negative concerns? Well, sometimes you don’t want to “spin” negative concerns. Nowadays, the most valuable thing you can be in your advertising is real. Be real in everything you do. Explain your shortcomings in a real manner. Promise to be better. Tell people why they can rely on you. Tell them why you deserve their business. Remember though, I’m not asking you to search for negatives to talk about. If there isn’t anything overly negative about your business, don’t look for one. But, if the majority of people have an “unflattering” opinion about your business, nip it in the bud. Jump on the grenade. You’d be surprised how often you’ll survive the blast in better shape. People respect honesty. Don’t try to fool them. We’ve been trained to sniff out liars.

I’ll give you one audio example of spinning a negative into a positive. It’s well known that the newspaper industry is losing ground to other news sources these days (namely the internet.) People aren’t subscribing as much as they used to. You can find news faster on the web, and it’s free. It’s a pretty tough obstacle to overcome. This next example is my take on how to brand a newspaper in this new landscape.

The perceived negative is that the newspaper is old news by the time you get it. It’s not a strange opinion. It’s a growing one. It’s commonplace enough that I believe the only way the industry can fight against it is to tackle it head on. They need to address the perceived issue. It takes bravery to talk about what others are saying behind your back. It feels like a big risk. But, it is far riskier to bury your head in the sand and believe that it isn’t happening. The only way to deal with it is to face it. That’s what I tried to do with this ad. How can waiting a day for news be seen as a positive instead of a negative? Firstly, I don’t think that the newspaper is an alternative to news from the internet. I just think it needs to adapt. It should go hand in hand with the newspapers own website. So, this ad should be thought of as a complimentary ad. Its purpose is to get people to subscribe to the paper for more in depth form of coverage than the internet can offer. The stories are not written to be the “first on the scene.” They are written to be the most thought out, professional, thorough source on the major topics. You can find the scoop on a story quickly online, but when you want to know everything, from every angle, in its truest form, wait for the paper in the morning. A negative is now an enticing positive.

Don’t be afraid to confront your own negatives. You have to become comfortable with discussing your faults. People appreciate businesses that realize that their opinions matter. If your customers think that you fall short in a certain way, you probably do. Address it internally. If it’s a bigger issue, address it publicly in your advertising.