Yet again, I was driving around town and saw the work van for a local home heating and air conditioning business. A business that will remain nameless to protect the innocent — or guilty.

And I got angry.

(Keep reading and you’ll very quickly realize that I come by the title of “The World’s Youngest Direct Marketing Curmudgeon” honestly.)

Here’s the thing.

You can’t miss these vans. They’re painted in the official company color. They have the name and phone number in HUGE print on the side.

And they have their slogan, in a clever italics font, at an angle next to the name, so you always read it first…

“We make house calls.”

No $#!*, Sherlock!

What home heating and air conditioning business DOESN’T make house calls?

How does that DIFFERENTIATE you from any of your competitors?

How does that lead to a BETTER customer experience than a customer would get from calling anybody else?

WHY does that mean I should CHOOSE YOU over every other option available to me in the marketplace?

It doesn’t tell me ANYTHING about the business other than that they’re dedicated to doing the bare minimum that’s needed in their industry… Showing up at my house when I call.

Obviously they do alright. Because they have quite a few vans that drive around town, annoying me.

But it’s certainly NOT because of their slogan.

In fact, last year when I had to have my air conditioner replaced, I was so annoyed with their slogan that I didn’t even call them for a quote.

While we’re at it, I grabbed the Yellow Pages, looking for more stupid slogans that tell you absolutely NOTHING about the business… Or why I should do business with them versus any other option in their category…

Serving up advertising stupidity, one slogan at a time!

Serving up advertising stupidity, one slogan at a time!

“Where Quality Meets Affordability.”

“Call For Competitive Pricing.”

“Full Time… Full Speed, working for you!”

“Honesty. Integrity. Performance.”

“We take pride in our work and it shows.”

“Where pleasing you pleases us.” <— what kind of business is this for?!

“… Because you expect more!”

“Turn to us with Confidence”

Okay, I’ll stop beating you over the head with meaningless platitudes.  (But you can comment below with any more you’d like to share!!)

In every single case, these businesses invested good money in getting these slogans and headlines to show up in big text in their Yellow Pages ad.

That’s money that could have been spent displaying copy that actually creates a differentiation in the customer’s mind.

Or points the customer to a real and unique benefit they’ll receive as a result of calling these companies.

Joe Polish, of Piranha Marketing and The I Love Marketing Podcast fame, tells the story of when he turned to direct response marketing in his carpet cleaning business.

He was a dead-broke carpet cleaner, living off credit cards when he discovered direct response.

He was using this same stupid advertising as everyone else — he didn’t know any better.

Then he bought a big magnet to go on the side of his van that said something like…

“DO NOT hire a carpet cleaner until you’ve heard this free recorded message. Call: 555-1212”

On the free recorded message he offered a free “Consumer Awareness Guide to Choosing A Carpet Cleaner.”

And he used this consumer awareness guide — with a sales offer enclosed — to teach about how to hire a carpet cleaner. Including calling out some shady competitors on their questionable and deceptive marketing practices.

By the time you were done reading — even if you didn’t hire Joe’s firm — you could be confident in choosing a carpet cleaner.

And most folks who requested the consumer awareness guide did choose Joe’s firm.

How well did this work?

Splendidly! Joe grew his business by over 500% within months of implementing these smarter direct response marketing methods.

He went on to transform the entire carpet cleaning industry. Over a billion dollars’ worth of carpet cleaning services have been sold by Joe’s students.

And it all started when he decided to drop the slogans and meaningless platitudes… When he decided to put his needs lower on the totem pole than his customers’… And when he started implementing direct marketing principles, like those you’re getting here in Breakthrough Marketing Secrets.

Is your business using a stupid slogan, offering up meaningless platitudes instead of real differentiation and benefits to sell? How can you get into your customer’s head and offer them what they care about and what matters, instead of empty words?

Yours for bigger breakthroughs!

Roy Furr

Editor, Breakthrough Marketing Secrets

PS — I’d love your comments below!