Ideas You Can Take To The Bank
In my town, the post office parking lot has just three crummy spaces. Next door to it is a bank that has a big parking lot. Naturally, everyone who needs to visit the post office parks at the bank. Because of all the extra cars parking on their property, you'd expect the bank to put up this kind of a warning sign at the entrance to its lot:
Parking For Bank Patrons Only!
All other vehicles will be towedat owner's expense.
But someone at the bank knew how to think outside the box. They didn't settle for the obvious. Instead of being the town meanies, they put up this sign where everyone could see it:
Union Bank of California Welcomes Post Office Patrons! If you're not banking with us, come on in and see why we're a great place to bank . . . as well as very convenient!
What we have here is an example of guerrilla marketing at its best. The bank took a problem and, using a kind of marketing jujitsu, turned it into a plus. The funny, subversive sign says to potential customers that "we're the kind of bright, responsive people you want to bank with."
Examples of turning problems into opportunities, like the one I've mentioned above, are all around us and are always instructive. Remember the old Avis rent-a-car advertising campaign? Years ago, Hertz was the market leader. Avis was in a distant second place. So their terrific ad agency came up with a campaign theme that acknowledged their second-place status and turned it into a virtue. The headline of one of their classic ads reads:
Avis is only No. 2 in rent-a-cars.
So why go with us?
We try harder.
The body copy explains that "we can't take you for granted" and that when you're No. 2, "you just can't afford dirty ashtrays. Or half-empty gas tanks." Another ad in the campaign used the headline:
When you're only No. 2 you try harder.
Instead of being ashamed of their second-place status, Avis proudly (and humorously) proclaimed it and used it to explain why they try so hard to provide great service and value.
So what does this have to do with your marketing efforts? Plenty. It shows how you can take a problem and use it to your advantage. As the saying goes: "If all you have is lemons, make lemonade." Is your company's "lemon" the fact that you're tiny? No problem. Your "lemonade" is that you provide unbeatable, personal service. Is your company's product back-ordered so that you can't deliver promptly? No sweat. The crush of orders is proof of tremendous product acceptance and popularity. Is your product lacking a load of hot features? Nothing to worry about. It's perfect for people who want to get up-and-running quickly without having to wade through thick manuals.
You get the idea.
The take-away message this month? It always pays to think outside of the box and look for new ways to turn problems or challenges into moneymaking opportunities.
There are lots of them.
Ivan Levison is a freelance direct response copywriter who works for companies like Bank of America, Fireman's Fund, Intel, Microsoft and many others. Levison writes direct mail sales letters, e-mails, and ads. For a free subscription to his monthly e-mail newsletter for marketers, visit his Web site at www.levison.com. He can be reached at (415) 461-0672 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.