Positive Or Negative Ads – Which is Better For Your Business?

May 31, 2010 by  Filed under: Advertising 

In hamburger ads, you will see one ad comparing their hamburger to another fast food chain’s hamburger. Do you know who loves these ads? The CEO of the fast food franchise company. These ads are designed mostly by advertising agencies to appease their client. They almost say at the end of the ad “So There!”.

Some of these ads (in different industries) don’t even compare product, they just say something bad about a competitor, and then the advertising company’s name is mentioned at the end of the commercial, or print ad. The question I always ask is “Does this make you want to buy the product of the company that paid for he ad? In most cases, no.

It’s a bad investment to spend time proving that another company in your industry is giving bad service, or has a shoddy product. Do you watch negative political ads? Unless you live in a cave, you do. After you see a vicious ad about a candidate, do you think “This guy is so bad, the other guy must be great”? Do you know who react well to these ads? Core supporters of the candidate they are supporting. This is another example of “So There!” ads. I also call these “Take That!” ads. Can you imagine if one candidate had all of these negative ads, and the other candidate only talked about the good things he has done? Nobody would be talking about the other candidate.

Here is the bottom line. Negative ads about your competitor, don’t build desire to buy your product. They don’t make you look good to the public. They don’t build confidence in your company, service, or your brand. And the biggest reason (as if these weren’t enough) is that you are making the buyer aware that you even have a competitor. And savvy buyers know that if you didn’t think the other company was a threat to you, you wold compare yourself to them at all.

The ad “At Avis, we try harder” is brilliant. They say that they are number two, but don’t compare themselves to number one directly. And in the slogan is a real buyer benefit. “We try harder’ carries the meaning “We try harder to make you happy”. Most people also identify with the “second biggest” more than the biggest in practically any area.

Can you imagine that if someone was asking you out for a date, and they said “Don’t go out with that guy, he has bad hair! Go out with me instead”? How would that sound? Like someone has low self esteem, like they feel like they are less than the other guy, like they feel threatened by the other guy. Is that how you want the public to feel about you, and your brand?

When people see your sd, what they want to know is; Is this for me? Will this help me? Is this a great solution to my problem? What do I get if I buy this?

Years ago, I had a local competitor that sold what I sold. Different brand, same product.

It was so long ago that I forget who started it. We started spending thousands of dollars a month in ads, whose sole purpose was to irritate each other. The only person who cared was him and me. The only person who profited from this was our ad rep.

Years later we met at the bank (on unrelated errands), we talked briefly. We both started laughing over how stupid we were to waste all that time and money irritating each other when we could have both been getting richer by advertising what we sold, and just ignored each other.

I’m a slow study. I hope you are a bit faster.

Claude Whitacre is the author of the book The Unfair Advantage Small Business Advertising Manual. Claude speaks on small business advertising and retail marketing. You can buy a copy of his book at http://www.claudewhitacre.com or you can download a free copy of Claude’s book at http://www.Local-Small-Business-Advertising-Marketing-Book.com

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