We hear about the extraordinary. We share the extraordinary.
We hear about the nasty mung of awful. We share horror stories of said nasty mung.
That’s the thing about extremes: for better and for worse, they get covered. And even when a company stinks up the place, it usually gets at least one chance to make good – and that chance, if taken advantage of, tends to get as much coverage as the offense. We do love our redemption’s, don’t we?
But what about the rest?
Imagine an inverted Bell curve.
At both extremes, you get discussed.
Everyone else – wallowing in the pit of average – gets ignored. Wait … here … I’ll draw it on a legal pad for you.
There, in the saggy, soggy bottom, sits a black hole suck from which it’s hard to escape. I mean, why would you try to escape when you don’t think there’s a problem?
“Our service is fine.”
“We do a pretty good job.”
“Hey, we’re good. When we make a mistake, we always try to fix it.”
Fish don’t know they’re in water.
It’s a dangerous wasteland, my friends. It’s a narcotic malaise that deadens souls of employees, companies, and customers.
And it’s true for most of the companies with whom we do business.
What does all this have to do with advertising?
Advertising only accelerates the inevitable.
Good advertising will make a good business more successful more quickly and more efficiently.
Good advertising will make a bad business go out of business faster.
If you’re in between, languishing in the PitofMediocrity, you’ll try advertising, and it won’t work very well (if at all, depending on a few factors) – at least, not nearly as well as it could.
There’s a billboard for a convenience store I see every time I go to St. Louis that drives me crazy. It’s meant to look like either a Twitter or Facebook status update. It reads: “FastLane: For Fuel, Food & Fun!!”
Why does it bother me so much?
Because it’s false advertising.
I’ve been a couple times to investigate.
It’s not fun.
I mean, at all. I know that may come as a shock.
It’s got gas and beer and Funyuns and Combos and all that…just no fun.
But I’m not arguing they should change the billboard to match the experience.
Imagine if they changed the experience to match the billboard.
Have you ever … ever … walked out of a convenience store thinking, “Oh man, that was awesome?”
I see an opportunity. How about you?
What if this convenience store spent six months visiting amusement parks, carnivals, Las Vegas, Branson, and a few other places that sell fun for a living? What if they took notes and figured out ways to provide a mind-blowingly fun experience at a convenience store?
Free whoopee cushion with every full tank of … wait for it … GAS?
Spin the wheel of canned cheese?
A dunk tank filled with Red Bull?
Who can make these things happen?
Suddenly, you’ve got a C-store everyone’s telling their friends about. Suddenly, you’ve got people lining up to not only fill up their tank, but come inside for your high-margin snacks and joy buzzers and stuff.
Suddenly, my kids are begging to stop at FastLane in Warrenton on the way to Grandmom and Granddad’s house. And my wife is telling her friends. And some goober’s on the web blogging about their relentless capacity for fun.
Oh, people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.
Because you’re a convenience store.
And our experience at convenience stores across America is drowning in mediocrity.
Advertising messages fail for two reasons:
Companies don’t speak to consumers about things consumers care about in a language consumers understand.
Companies don’t live up to the promises they make in their advertising.
FastLane passes number one with flying colors. We all need fuel, food, and fun.
They fail miserably at number two.
The easy road is to change the ad.
The company on the road less traveled changes the company.
And that will make all the difference.