Small business advice when advertising and online videos aren't working
What following the crowd or hiring the wrong videographer or designer does to your ROI
This is a story about a plumber in Phoenix, and while that might not sound relevant to you, if you've ever advertised your small business, if you're currently advertising your business, or if you plan to advertise your business—you need to keep reading.

A husband and wife plumbing company asked me to design an advertisement that would help to separate them from the competition. They did not have a brand image or any way to separate them from the rest of the field, consequently, prospects didn't pay them much attention and they had to compete on price more than they would like. That's where I came in.

Plumbers love to advertise, so there's a tremendous amount of competition—that's the bad news. The good news is that 95% of the marketing is comprised of under leveraged, boring, and ineffective ads that most people are inclined to ignore.

Take a moment to look at the plumbing section in the yellow pages, what do you see? You see questions like, "Do you need a plumber," or the obligatory plumber's van in the ad. Well, these two ideas fail the “obvious test,” which all marketers/designers should know: if the idea or information you are placing in the ad is obvious, take it out.

For example, you might guess that a plumber might drive a van over a semi truck or an Infiniti FX 35. So why do so many plumbers place white commercial vans in their ads? The answer is, they don’t know what else to put in there, and the creative professionals designing the ads don’t know either.
I took a different approach to advertising. Instead of following the crowd, I made sure the content and photos in the ad I designed focused on pain, problem, and wants, a person would have when looking for a plumber.

So what's the solution? In order for this ad to be effective, I had to find out how people and why people selected one plumber over another. I also needed to get to the root of why people chose to work with this particular husband and wife team. The point here is that instead of just designing an ad or shooting an online promo video, which is what most artists and videographers do, I started the creative process in understand the marketing landscape. If your goal as a small business owner is to make money off (and get customers from) your advertising, online video, or marketing efforts, you’d be wise to hire someone who is a creative AND marketing professional.

Well, after talking with them about their marketing, we determined it was the husband, his friendly demeanor, boyish looks, and yes, his smile that made people feel at ease. That’s why customers hired this plumber, and not because they saw a white van in his ad. From investing time learning about their customers and their marketing, I learned that potential customers are apprehensive about having a stranger they don't trust in their house. Furthermore, they want to see the actual person who’s going to fix their plumbing—they want to feel like they can trust them. This is called trust-based marketing, and it’s why online videos that personally connect a small business with their target market is so popular now.

Despite some initial reluctance to break away from the crowd, the plumbers agreed to have me photograph the husband and feature him, and his smile, in the ad.

Well, the ad worked, it really worked—so much so, they responded with the following: 
"Thank you so much for all of your hard work on our logo & ad! You did a fabulous job! The ad was a home run, we love it! I feel we hit the nail on the head with adding his picture to the ad, people are noticing it, talking about it, and calling! It feels good to have professionals in the artwork and design field comment on what a great ad it is too! We are very proud of it."
What can this case study teach you about how to invest in an effective ad?
* Work with a videographer, video marketer, or designer who is not only a skilled artist, but is an expert in understanding how to bring in customers (marketing), if you want results from your investment, this is the only way to go.
* Don't follow the crowd unless you want to blend in with them.
* Remember that people don't talk or pay attention to businesses that are just like all the others
* Find out why clients really do business with you and use this as a part of your marketing message
* Hone your marketing strategy around the real value and benefits clients receive from you.
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