Avoid "Family Business" Advertising Pitfalls

February 27, 2012 by  Filed under: Advertising 

The following is a local commercial you have seen before, hundreds of times, in various forms. The actual product or service that is being advertised doesn’t matter because they are all interchangeable in this situation. On your television screen is a mom, dad, and two sons. They are standing inside a warehouse or office with western décor. The setting is either a furniture store, jewelry store, auto body shop, insurance agency, moving company, or bail bond service. During the course of the commercial, the mom will introduce everybody in the family, state the business name, and then use lines like “family owned and operated since ____,” or “from the good family folks at____,” or ” a local business with family ties in ____.” And then the commercial ends. In the span of thirty seconds, you learned that that in your city is a business that sells furniture or jewelry or bail bonds and it is owned by a family. Nothing too memorable or catchy, and nothing to motivate you to step through their door, unless you have some sort of obsession with families.

What these local, family businesses are tying to do makes sense. They are trying to use sentimentality and local pride to separate themselves from major national competitors in the hopes that you would rather buy your furniture from a family than a corporation. But what happens all of the other family and local businesses in the same viewing area are also advertising themselves on TV with the same happy family routine? The business is now making zero progress in their advertising campaign because fifty families are on the air selling the same thing with the same empty phrases. These all just blend together as one family blur, leaving the national corporations as the only ones whose ads stand out because they are employing a different set of advertising skills: branding, creativity, and good writing-the things any advertiser needs to employ, even if they put their kids, grandkids, and dogs on TV.

In a market full of family and local businesses, an advertiser needs to make theirs stand out as the most prominent. Leave the empty phrases and stereotypical images to the rest, and create something that differentiates your commercial and makes it memorable. Is there an interesting story behind your family business? Did you invent a new method of dry cleaning, or a new stun gun for bond collecting? One company that effectively markets its family aspect is the Coors Brewing Company, which has been family owned and managed since 1873, built the largest brewing facility in the world, survived Prohibition through cleverly creating other businesses, and was the first beer maker to use aluminum cans, which it manufactures itself.

If your main focus is the geographical location of your headquarters, or the fact that your family runs the shop, wisely utilize your air time with information that will drive the consuming public to your business, rather than using cliché slogans that everyone else is saying. Local car dealerships are notorious for cranking out family ads that are exceptionally bad. They seem to think that if they have their kids do all the talking, you’ll be eager to buy a car from them. If you’re banking on the notion that your sales are going to increase because people like your family so much, you may be taking a big risk-not everybody is going to like your family! Shocking, yes, but if someone were to, hypothetically speaking, not be thrilled with some part of your family (car dealers…), there goes your campaign. What else are you offering?

As a copywriter for Frink Inc., an Austin advertising agency, my focus is on bringing a fresh perspective and insight to advertising that has not been considered before to make a client’s television commercial stand out. By creating original branding and memorable copy, thirty seconds of television and radio air time is maximized to ensure that a client’s message will be well received and action will be taken by the viewing public.

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