Are Your Thoughts Boosting or Killing Your Sales?

Are you trying to boost sales but feel like you’ve lost your Midas touch in your business? You look back on those years when sales came so much easier to you and wonder why you might be suffering a sales slump now?

The good news is you’re not alone. Many entrepreneurs and even the seasoned self employed have felt the same way. What I found is the right thoughts can pull you out of your sales slump. It’s often the missing surge you need to boost your sales and turn your business around.

Figuring out what’s killing your sales can be as simple as answering these 5 questions. I’ve included short action exercises after each question. You can download the PDF version of
this here.

Let’s dive right into the 5 key questions to help you discover how to use your thoughts to boost sales.

#1. Are you more competitive or comparative?

If comparison constantly keeps creeping into your mind, I can tell you first hand ­­ it’s killing your sales and it’s killing your fun. Here’s my comparison confession:

I started out in the direct sales industry in 1990 where I honed my sales skills for six years. The company was run franchise­ style. They supported hundreds of locations throughout the country. I was one of them.

As many companies do, they mailed sales reports every week that ranked how each of the independent business owners were doing in weekly sales volume. I enjoyed many aspects of sales and sales management; however, seeing these weekly reports was not one of them.

Instead of adding fun, healthy competition as it was meant to be, I somehow turned it into an intense emotional roller coaster ­­ — and I don’t like roller coasters. It was not until
years later that I finally realized the problem wasn’t that my sales rankings went up and down.

The torture was I let my self worth go up and down.
Looking back I was letting my sales numbers define me. My subconscious thoughts kept telling me that my sales results was a reflection of my IQ level. The weeks when I was at the top of the sales leader board I felt so smart, but I let myself get puffed up thinking too highly of myself.

Other weeks when my sales sank to the bottom of the national ranking reports I was crushed at the realization of how dumb and untalented I must be. This went on week in and week out.

You would think after six years I would have recognized the root cause of my insanity. But, in those years I never paused long enough to even think about what I was thinking about. So, I just tolerated the torture. I hope you choose to stop torturing yourself.

ACTION QUESTIONS:

> Are you pausing long enough to think about your thoughts? ________________________________________
> How often do you find yourself comparing your results with others? ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________
> What advice do you need to give yourself about this? ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

#2. Are you serving yourself or serving others?

I doubt anyone would immediately answer this question saying, “Yes, I live to serve myself”. But, let me differentiate the two another way:

  • Serving myself is wanting to make an impression to let people know how great I am.
  • Serving others is wanting to make an impact to let people know how great they are.
  • Serving myself is trying to get others to buy largely, to help you meet your goals.
  • Serving others is trying to help others meet their goals through what you have to offer.

We can all start out with a heart to truly serve others, but sometimes life’s worries can subtly shift our focus off of others onto ourselves. If you want to boost your sales, I invite you to take the daily challenge to give yourself a ‘Check up from the Neck up’ with this one question:

ACTION QUESTION:

> Are you more focused on making a great impression or making a great impact? ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

#3. Are you driven more by fear or desire?

Studies on marketing have shown an interesting fact about consumer behavior. People respond more from fear of loss marketing than they do from desire to gain marketing.

In my business coaching practice I have seen that same fear of loss driver kill more sales than a lack of sales skills among the solopreneurs and entrepreneurs I coach.
Here are a few common behaviors that reflect fear driven decisions:

  • You slash prices leaving little or no profit margins from fear of losing the business to someone else.
  • Instead of pruning back the C and D clients you tolerate 80% of your headaches from the 10% of your clients that represent at best, only 20% of your revenue.
  • You need more clients, but you stop advertising for fear you might lose money if it doesn’t work right away.
  • You send people price quotes, but you don’t ask for the order for fear that you might sound too salesy.

When you’re driven more by fear you also end up trying way too hard ­­ and it shows. Whether you are presenting a proposal to a prospect one one one or your are delivering a sales presentation to a large audience, people can smell fear.

Fear revolves around you and not around them. Fear can make you forget to listen, forget to smile and even forget to breathe.

ACTION QUESTIONS:

> What is the worst thing you are afraid might happen in your business right now? ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________
> If that “worst thing” did happen what difference would it make in your life … in 10 days? ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________
> How about in 10 weeks? _________________________________________________
> How about in 10 months? _______________________________________________
> How about in 10 years? _________________________________________________

#4. Are you proactive or reactive?

When you go through a streak of no sales or your whole year has been a sales slump it is easy to be reactive and slip into worry mode. Worry can keep you stuck in a cycle of struggle if you let it become a daily habit.

“Worrying is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do,
but never gets you anywhere.”
(Erma Bombeck)
Worry and fear go hand in hand. Worrying is reminding yourself of all the negative outcomes you fear might happen and playing that tape in your head day in and day out. I looked up what is the opposite of worry in the thesaurus. It said “confidence”.

ACTION QUESTIONS:

> What is one area in your business do you want to gain more confidence? ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________
> What is one area in your business (with some training) you could get better results to boost your sales? ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________
> What is one thing you can commit to doing differently to increase your sales? ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

#5. Are you getting bitter or getting better?

Challenges are inevitable. But, if all you do is continue to rotate your mind and dwell on your frustrations you’ll only grow more bitter.

Success in anything, whether at school, sports or sales, there are only three areas we can focus on getting better at. We can intentionally improve:

  • our thoughts
  • our delivery (execution)
  • our strategy (technique)

Are you committed to getting better in your business every day?
The right strategy can boost sales. How is your sales and marketing strategy working for you?

ACTION QUESTIONS:

> What is one marketing or sales strategy you want to intentionally improve in your business this month? ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________
> What is a new sales­-marketing technique/strategy you want to learn? ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

SHARE YOUR COMMENTS: What thoughts are boosting or killing your sales?

© Copyright 2021-2022

Easy Local Business Marketing Ideas to Boost Sales

I recently surveyed my email subscribers and asked them what is the number one burning question they would like me to help them with. One of the questions that came up again and again was asking about easy local business marketing ideas to boost sales. So, here are four tactics you can implement right away when it comes to attracting more local clients and customers to your business.

Succeeding as a local business requires a strong foundation in the community as well as a little creative outreach. In a market that seems dominated by online retailers and smartphone shopping, local businesses are still a draw for many people — in fact, Search Engine Watch reports that almost 60 percent of consumers search with Google every month looking for local businesses to visit. Leverage your status as a local business to reach new consumers in your area and stay competitive with the big box stores.

Local Marketing Idea #1: Update your website.

The first easy fix to attracting more local customers to your business is your website. Too often, small local businesses have a website that is completely out of date when it comes to content and design. Update your content and make sure the site is mobile-ready. Mobile customers need to be able to find and use your site, or you will lose business. Google reports that 50 percent of mobile users visit a local business within 24 hours of searching online for one. Having an out­-of-­date site could mean losing half of your potential local customers, so stop relying on word of mouth advertising alone and get your site up to date, so you can meet the neighborhood. If updating your website does not feel easy to you, check out my free training that will help you simplify the process.

Local Marketing Idea #2: Support the community.

Sponsoring local events and programs is one of the easiest ways to connect yourself with the community. It gives you a chance to advertise directly to the people around you as well as build lifelong bonds with community members and other business owners.

You can offer sponsorship in a variety of ways; you could offer your services for free to a group, provide funding for community causes or provide prizes for a nonprofit’s fundraising events. O-ring manufacturer Apple Rubber co­sponsors a Fourth of July celebration in Lancaster, New York, every year that is attended by more than 40,000 people. Sometimes, it can be as simple as opening your doors to let a group use your physical space for their event. Whatever you choose to do will resonate with the community and build goodwill for you and your business.

If you happen to be from my hometown in Bucks County, PA, consider supporting the CB East High School’s new Patriot’s stadium. Even a small $50 investment in the athletic program book can get your business repeat exposure to the local community. (Okay, so I had to throw that one in there for my two boys playing on the high school soccer team 🙂

Local Marketing Idea #3: Share your community support on your website.

Taking pride in your place in the community will not only give more visibility to the community groups you support, but it also makes you much more three dimensional. Be sure that your website mentions all the work you do for the community and posting photos is even better.

There is a local health club in my community who does an excellent helping to spread the message through their sponsorship of an annual race in memory of a local community member.

There are plenty of sports teams to support. If you contribute by supporting a youth sports team make sure that you proudly display a jersey in­store. Being proud of your place in local culture shows the neighborhood you are enthused to be a part of it and endears you to them.

Local Marketing Idea #4: Share more video, more pictures, more engagement.

In some cases, your social media presence will be the first exposure people have to your business — and what do people on social media love? Videos and pictures. Actively share and post images and videos that are more than simple advertisements for your company — show real testimonials from real locals and local news items of interest to your customers. You should also make the effort to post reviews of other local businesses you like to show that you don’t just promote local business, you shop local as well.

As you implement these four easy marketing ideas, be sure to be prepared for new business. You never know when you’re going to get the opportunity to engage more local customers. One time I ran into the grocery store with only my credit card in my pocket. I bumped into a CPA who came to one of my local marketing seminars. He asked me for my business card, so he could learn more about my business coaching — yikes! I didn’t have any.

I have since then stocked all three of our cars with a stack of my business cards, which came in handy when I least expected it — like while dining at local restaurants, meeting people at neighborhood socials, watching my sons’ soccer games, etc.

QUESTION: What has worked the best for you when it comes to attracting more local clients to your business? What has worked the least? Share your comments and questions below.

Use my printable MARKETING CHECKLIST to help you get clear on your marketing plan. Download your free copy here.

Marketing Checklist for Service Based Businesses

© Copyright 2021-2022

How to Come Up with a Great Business Idea (Part 2)

With a job market that’s in a continual state of flux, many entrepreneurial-minded professionals are thinking of a great business idea and looking for ways to earn extra money on the side, sometimes supplementing income lost through downsizing, layoffs, or being underemployed. Chances are, you have a lot of marketable skills you might not have realized could be potential moneymakers. A little bit of research can put you on the path to making your mark in the gig economy. 

 

How To Monetize Your Skill Sets – What Can You Do?

Sit down and make a list of all the things you’re skilled at. You could consider skill sets learned through prior training, education, job experience, or even hobbies you enjoy. For example, if you’ve always been a math whiz, tutoring might be a revenue stream.

If you’re a marketing or social media guru, you could hire yourself out as a corporate consultant. If you’re an exceptional cook or baker, you may find a calling working as a caterer or event planner.

Assess all of your skills, talents, and the things you enjoy doing and consider the monetary potential behind applying those skills to revenue generation.

job-boardConsider What’s In Demand

If you’re a multi-talented person, you might be best served to explore opportunities in fields that are in high demand and finding a way to capitalize on them. For example, according to Entrepreneur, if you search online job boards, you’re likely to get a good feel for the type of services people typically hire out for.

This could be anything from bookkeeping to personal assisting, pet care, mystery shopping, automotive repair, child care, landscaping, or interior design.

Doing a bit of research will help you recognize not only skills that are easy to monetize, but Nolo points out you’ll also get a feel for what others in similar occupations charge for their services.

RELATED BLOG ARTICLE: The New Elevator Pitch – How to Introduce Yourself So People Engage

Establish A Great Business

Whether you decide to freelance for a couple of hours a week as a side gig or launch a full-fledged operation, you’re wise to establish yourself as a small business owner. This includes deciding on a corporate structure, like a sole proprietor or limited liability company.

You’ll also need to write a business plan, get a business license, set up a business bank account, create a website and basic marketing materials, and establish a presence on social media.

Going through all of these steps will allow you to present yourself in a professional way that will help you attract customers.

RELATED BLOG ARTICLE: 4 Small Business Planning Tips to Increase Profits

 

Go Back To School

online-educationIf you’re interested in learning a new skill or further developing an existing one, consider going back to school for a business degree as a way to expand your professional opportunities.

Online educational offerings not only provide a wide variety of learning modalities, but you also have the benefit of being able to study from anywhere, often on your own timetable.

This allows you to work, care for children, and build your business, all while advancing your education. Grants, scholarships, and loans can help you finance your educational journey.

 

Buy Into A Franchise

If you’re interested in being a business owner, but you aren’t sure where to start, what to do, or how to operate, you might consider looking at franchise opportunities. Buying into ownership of an established and recognizable brand can provide the blueprint you need for small business operations.

It’s wise to conduct your due diligence in advance so you have a solid understanding of the pros and cons of various franchise opportunities before moving ahead. In particular, exploring financing options will help you make the most informed decisions.

Learn To Network

business-idea-networkOnce you decide what you’d like to do, building a customer base is the first priority. You can join chambers of commerce, Rotary clubs, small business development centers, or other networking groups in your area.

According to Copper Connection, this can help you secure leads, make connections, and network with those in your industry and in adjacent industries.

Once you start building a clientele, ask for referrals from happy customers as a way to continue building your operations. Customer service will be important to establishing a good reputation in your industry.

 

RELATED BLOG ARTICLE: How to Generate More Leads and Sales from Your Website – Top Bloggers Share What’s Working Now

Manage Your Financial Resources

It can be a tricky prospect to manage your finances when you’re working a side hustle or attempting to launch a small business operation. Create budgets and marketing agendas, keep good records, and give careful consideration to both income and expenditures to ensure you’re moving in the right direction from a financial perspective. You don’t want to make the mistake of taking on so much work that you’re unable to service all clients in a professional manner.

 

While it can be a challenge looking for new revenue streams when you’re underemployed or need to supplement your income, taking advantage of your own personal skill sets can open a number of doors to new, financially viable opportunities. 

Paramount Business Coach can help you narrow the focus of your business-generating options and help you develop a plan of action for moving forward. Book a free consultation or reach out for more information on the benefits of business coaching.

How to Come Up With a Great Business Idea Part 1

Thinking of a good business idea is tough. Do you want to start a business, but have no idea what you would enjoy doing that’s also profitable? When it comes to running a profitable business, you want to come up with a great product or service idea that solves a problem a lot of people have whether it’s a big or small problem. 

 

At the same time, you’ll also want to consider what kinds of things you are good at and what kinds of things you enjoy for your long-term happiness with your day-to-day life. There’s no sense diving into a fruitful endeavor if it’s going to make you miserable. You’d end up procrastinating because it won’t feel like fun, but drudgery.

 

Here are 4 tips to help you in figuring out a good business idea and how to meet in the middle of career satisfaction and reliable profit margins. 

1. Undergo Self Evaluation

self-evaluationWith the goal being to start a business idea that you don’t find cumbersome, you’ll need to begin with a look inward. This isn’t a process you have to do blindly either. Don’t be afraid to explore personality quizzes, strength quizzes, career tests, or other kinds of assessments to get third-party input. This way, with the more information you collect about yourself, you should start to get a very clear picture of the kinds of things that you’d find suitable in a day-to-day role or even what industries you’d excel in. 

For example, CliftonStrengths is a personality quiz that helps you identify which of the 34 identified personality traits are your strongest top 5. Once they’ve discovered these, they share explanations of the strengths, as well as what kind of work or industry goes best with it. The descriptions go on to include other personality traits that you’d work well within others. This could really come in handy when you get to the stage of hiring people to work with you.

Compare the results of the assessment against your previous work or educational experiences to brainstorm possible industries you’re interested in, compatible with, and of course the tasks you know you’ve enjoyed in the past. This will put together a baseline of good business ideas before you start to narrow in on your future business.

RELATED BLOG ARTICLE: Are Your Thoughts Boosting or Killing Your Sales?

2. Identify Problems In Your Day

identify-problemsNow that you have a little direction, you’ll want to find a more specific space in the marketplace that you can corner. When business owners are assessing their value proposition, what they are really asking is: how well am I able to solve my target audiences’ problem? 

To reverse engineer a value proposition, you could consider the biggest pain points in your day and think about how they could be improved or solved altogether. For Gopuff co-founder Yakir Gola, who was the only car-owner in his college friend group, that one problem sparked an industry-disrupting innovation. Who wants to constantly be called on by all your friends when they need to buy groceries or run down to the convenience store? It led to the question, what if the convenience store could come to you? Now for people without vehicles or those short on time, it can. 

Finding a very specific need like this for a business idea ensures that people will buy into your product or service. It will be up to you to keep your customers coming back. Solve their problems well and brand loyalty will create a long-lasting revenue stream over time.

RELATED BLOG ARTICLE: Surprisingly Easy Way to Get More Referrals

3. Ask Friends and Family

askIf it’s not your own experiences you draw from, perhaps your friends or family have been through situations that can spark a business idea. Not only will this give you a place to finally jump off from, but it can provide you with a group of people to test out your business on.

Going this route, you know you have customers that trust you right from the inception, and they likely would be happy serving as guinea pigs if it means they get to watch and share in your success. 

This kind of early and immediate buy-in can be a huge help to launching the business and creating marketable materials to pitch the value proposition to others in need of your company.

4. Understand Local Niches

nicheAnother source of business ideas and inspiration can be your local environment. What are the needs within your immediate community? Is there any tourism-related business that can be tapped into? Are you a small town with one busy road running through it that might be able to break up long trips for drivers who need a rest stop? Or maybe the problem is that there isn’t much to do in your town at all and people need something entertaining to do. 

Cross-evaluate these possible opportunities with what you’ve learned about yourself from the self-reflection stage and you might just find a point where they intersect. This is a very important step because any of those businesses could or would work but you want to also get fulfillment out of the work you’re setting yourself up for.

 

All of this advice is not to say the process won’t produce its challenges. You may start feeling absolutely certain of one idea only to end up going in a completely different direction. That’s normal and part of the process. 

RELATED BLOG ARTICLE: Stepping off the Ground: Your Next StartUp Biz Step

You need to be able to know when to push or when to pivot. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, just bring it all back to the center of the Venn diagram and simplify things for yourself. What problem would you enjoy solving for other people for years to come? If you can identify that answer quickly, trust your gut and take the plunge. Starting your business will be the most worthwhile endeavor.

 

QUESTION:

Where specifically do you get stuck in trying to come up with a great business idea you can start?

Share your comments and questions below. 

5 Simple Tips to Help Your Business Run Smoother

No business owner can know exactly what the future holds for their business, or what bumps in the road there might be on the path to success. Even so, every owner is aware that the more smoothly and efficiently a business runs, the more agile it will be in handling the challenges of the future. Here are five simple tactics that can be incorporated into any business to facilitate smoother operations. 

 

1. Leverage the Efficiency of Automation

leverageThe big story in business efficiency over the past few years has been the increasing capabilities of automated systems. Artificial intelligence is powering an array of new tools for business owners that can put many of the more tedious business processes on autopilot. Two of the more common are customer relations management (CRM) software and project management tools.

The former can automate outreach and sales processes and the latter aids in coordinating members of a team tasked with a specific goal. Thanks to the power of cloud computing, these sophisticated AI systems are often available on mobile devices. Paystub generator and accounting software are two additional investments to consider making. 

 

2. Keep Organized

organizedOne of the largest barriers to efficiency has always been a lack of organizational skills. According to an Office Depot survey, 63% of small business owners see a correlation between the level of organization and the profitability of their operation.

The most important factor in getting organized is time management. Day planners and filing systems can help, but there are better options these days than a Rolodex.

Digital calendars and planners are always a good idea. Business analytics software and financial planning programs can be helpful if you need to take an objective look at the status of your business and make productivity forecasts. 

RELATED BLOG ARTICLE: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be in Your Business

3. Institute Processes for Everything You Do 

processWhen we talk about business processes, we mean related tasks that serve a specific goal when performed in a specific sequence. It sounds simple, but whether from stasis or fear of change, many entrepreneurs limit their implementation of specific processes to big-picture goals and let the details sort themselves out. That’s rarely a good idea.

Having clearly defined processes in place for reaching even small targets boosts efficiency and reduces error through repetition and drilling. Process improvement methodologies vary widely, but the ultimate goal is the same: easily implemented standard operating procedures that act to streamline the path to meeting goals. 

4. Hold Weekly Staff Meetings

meetingMeetings get a bad rap these days. It’s true that they can be productivity killers, but “can” does not imply “must.” In reality, meetings can be very helpful…if they’re done correctly.

They can keep workers focused on their tasks, promote a unified vision, and unblock the social logjams that develop when conflict is allowed to simmer unaddressed. Remember too that meetings don’t have to be boring! There are plenty of ways to keep employees engaged without watering down your message.

It’s also worth mentioning that digital communication tools like Zoom have been a blessing for the coordination of teams and remote workers during 2020, so consider using these technologies to keep wasted commute and coordination time to a minimum. 

RELATED BLOG ARTICLE: Why the Right Team Will Transform Your Business

5. Provide Ongoing Training

trainingOn that same note, investing in your employees and their personal capabilities is also crucial to keeping your business profitable by reducing costly turnover. A study by training company Lorman found that retention rates rise 30% to 50% for companies that nurture a strong learning culture. This means not only high-quality individually optimized training regimens but repeating those regimens on a regular basis.

Better skills also decrease the chance of workplace accidents. According to the National Safety Council, the number one cause of workplace injury is overexertion, so teaching people to work smarter rather than harder helps to streamline everything. 

 

Keeping your organization flying level in turbulent times is both an art and a science. By remembering these few fundamental strategies, you’ll be able to keep your business steady and prospering. 

RELATED BLOG ARTICLE: How to Create High Performing Teams

Top 10 Worst Print Ads – Avoid Killer Advertising Mistakes

One small error or oversight is all it takes to derail a marketing endeavor. When creating ads that make an impression, you want them to be memorable for the right reasons. The wrong reasons can prove fatal for a brand, especially in today’s hyper-connected world.

These 10 advertising mistakes offer valuable lessons we can all learn from. Let’s take a look at what happened and find out what they can teach us.

Advertising Mistake #1: Mr. Clean’s Mother’s Day Stereotypes

Print Advertising Mistakes - Mr. Clean

Mr. Clean decided to advertise the brand’s cleaning products with what the company probably thought was an uplifting message about mother-daughter bonding. Unfortunately, the advert depicted a mother and daughter cleaning windows together, featuring text about getting “back to the job that really matters” on Mother’s Day. 

The advert was interpreted as reinforcing gender stereotypes that imply a woman’s job is limited to housework. 

The lesson: Do your utmost to avoid using stereotypes. Before publishing any marketing material in print or online, take a second look.

Advertising Mistake #2: PETA’s Fat-Shaming Billboards

Print Advertising Mistakes - PETA

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has a history of advertising campaigns that attempt to guilt or shame consumers into adopting their hardline approach to lifestyle and animal rights. One of their more shocking campaigns ran in Florida in 2009.

The billboard depicted an overweight person in a swimming costume on a beach. The text read, “Save the whales. Lose the blubber. Go vegetarian.” The fat-shaming caused an uproar, and the outcry soon led to the adverts’ replacement. 

The lesson: Never use insults to get your message across. Laugh with people, not at them.

Advertising Mistake #3: Pepsi Didn’t Read the Room

Print Advertising Mistakes - Pepsi

In 2017, soft drink company Pepsi caused outrage with an advert inspired by the Black Lives Matter protests in the U.S. The advert starred Kendall Jenner, who appears to end a standoff between protestors and police officers by offering one of the officers a can of cola. Pepsi apologized, the advert was pulled and parodied, and 6 months later, company president Brad Jakeman resigned.

The company said it hoped the advert would portray the brand and its products as a culturally unifying force. Instead, it came across as tone-deaf and as an attempt to trivialize an important social cause. 

The lesson: Read the room and avoid referencing sensitive subjects.

Advertising Mistake #4: Bacardi’s Offensive Attempt At Humor

Print Advertising Mistakes - Bacardi

In a poor attempt at humor, an affiliate of the alcohol brand Bacardi ran an advertising campaign that implied that people who want to appear better-looking should find an ‘ugly girlfriend.’ The advert took the form of a mini-site and a Facebook page. 

The brand shut down the campaign after a couple of weeks due to complaints.

The lesson: Avoid being judgmental or degrading people in your campaigns.

Advertising Mistake #5: Adidas’ Poor Choice Of Words

Print Advertising Mistakes - Adidas

After the 2017 Boston Marathon, Adidas sent a congratulatory email to customers who participated in the race. The subject line was a simple, “Congrats, you survived the Boston Marathon!” A similar short, sweet message would’ve been appropriate for any other marathon. 

However, the subject line could have been better worded when it comes to one of Beantown’s biggest fitness events. In 2013, 3 people died, and more than 250 people were injured when a bomb exploded at the marathon. The company apologized immediately. 

The lesson: Have more than one person proofread all the copy included in your advertising campaigns.

Advertising Mistake #6: Burger King Goes Below The Belt

Print Advertising Mistakes - Burger King

When Burger King decided to advertise its BK Super Seven Incher, the ad agency it used took an approach that went below the belt. The advert featured an open-mouthed model faced with a sandwich. The pose and the accompanying text suggested a sexual act, which provoked a backlash from angry customers. 

Burger King responded by saying it was a limited-time promotion and that a Singapore-based agency was responsible for creating the advert. Several years later, the model stumbled across the advert and called for a boycott of the fast-food company, as she had no idea they’d used her image. 

The lesson: Don’t include sexual innuendo in your advertisements, and don’t use people’s images without consent.

Advertising Mistake #7: Hacienda’s Massacre References

Print Advertising Mistakes - Hacienda

In the mid-2000s, Hacienda Mexican Restaurants ran a billboard campaign in Indiana. The advert featured a cocktail, a headline that read, “We’re like a cult with better Kool-Aid,” and a slogan that read, “To die for!” The Kool-Aid and death references alluded to the mass murder-suicide that took place at the Peoples Temple in Jonestown, Guyana, in 1978.

The marketing chief, Jeff Leslie, said that the brand wasn’t trying to be controversial but rather that it wanted to be noticed. Whatever the brand’s intentions, the public, and press weren’t having any of it. After two weeks of outcry, the brand removed the advert. 

The lesson: Avoid sensitive subjects, especially when they’re tragedies that resulted in the deaths of innocent people.

Advertising Mistake #8: Flora Forgets Inclusivity

Print Advertising Mistakes - Flora

In a misguided attempt at being relevant, South African margarine brand Flora ran an advert that featured a heart made of porcelain, and the words, “Uhh, Dad, I’m gay,” shaped like a bullet headed toward the heart. The advert also featured the text, “You need a strong heart today.” 

Unilever, the Anglo-Dutch company that owns Flora, ordered the withdrawal of the advert after activists, the public, and the press condemned it as homophobic. 

The lesson: Be inclusive. Your ad will reach different groups of people.

Advertising Mistake #9: Airbnb Forgets The Importance Of Timing

Print Advertising Mistakes - Air BnB

Despite being one of the most user-friendly, well-designed sites, Airbnb doesn’t always get everything right. In 2017, they learned an important lesson regarding the timing of advertising campaigns. On August 28, Airbnb launched its Floating World campaign, which features an image of a house floating on the surface of the water. It also featured lines of text that read, “Stay above water” and “Live the life aquatic with these floating homes.” 

The problem was that Hurricane Harvey was pummeling the city of Houston. A spokesperson apologized for the insensitivity of the timing. 

The lesson: Pay attention to current events and make changes where necessary.

Advertising Mistake #10: Antonio Federici’s Naughty Religion

Print Advertising Mistakes - Federici

Italian ice cream company Antonio Federici ran an advert in the United Kingdom featuring models dressed as a Catholic priest and nun in what appeared to be a sexual encounter. It also featured text that read, “Submit to temptation.” 

Many angry Christians called for a boycott of the company and to submit enough complaints to see the advert banned by UK authorities. The company ran a few other adverts featuring sexualized images of religion, all of which prompted a backlash from Christians. 

The lesson: Leave religion alone, as the advert undoubtedly will offend people.

The Takeaway

No matter what format your marketing takes, your advertising needs to avoid offending, insulting and marginalizing people. Creating a memorable ad is one thing; creating an ad that tarnishes your brand is another.

If you need help coming up with your wow factor message that’s laid out by professional graphic designers, book a complimentary discovery call to see how we can help you. 

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QUESTION: What question can I answer for you about advertising your business? Please share your comments or questions below: