Do you still think advertising doesn’t work, that it won’t help your business, that it’s a waste of money?

Let me tell you a quick story about my recent Kijiji experience and then you tell me if you still don’t think advertising works.

I had an inexpensive red guitar. It was more of a novelty item than a serious guitar but it did play fine and looked cool; no, more than cool, it was unique.

I never learned to play well despite having owned many guitars over the years. But this cool red guitar was just collecting dust so I figured I would Kijiji it. (Did you notice how I turned Kijiji into a verb?)

Even though I’m a marketing guy and have been all my life, as I wrote up my Kijiji ad I think I devolved into a plain Neanderthal consumer –  or maybe a left brained client. I completely ignored every rule and every bit of marketing knowledge it had taken me a lifetime to learn.

My ad was careful to point out that this wasn’t a high quality instrument. I went out of my way to say that it was more of a novelty item or a fun thing than a serious guitar. I probably had ten  anti-selling words in a 30-word ad all intended to not give the wrong impression about the guitar.  Lots of information.

After about 3 weeks with no response, I had all but forgotten about the dumb ad. Then one day I was checking out my other Kijiji ads and remembered that my guitar ad was still up. When I read the ad again, I thought, “this sucks big time.” I wondered who the heck would buy this guitar based on my ad?  Lots of information, but no compelling message.

So after a quick Darwin reference check I evolved back into Homo Creativus and re wrote the ad as follows:


This cool red guitar would make a great gift for someone without a red guitar.
It’s cooler than Angry Birds, more fun than a barrel of fish. What’s not to like? Go Red this Christmas.

Ya, I know, it sounds flippant, goofy, and might never get approved by a client. But, by gosh, it worked. I received 7 emails about it within eight hours of posting. The first email said they called purely based on the “hilarity” of the ad. That person came the next day to pick it up. SOLD.

By making the ad involving, interesting and fun I sold the same item I couldn’t sell with logic in three weeks. The ad added value to the product and sold it.

Now tell me that good advertising doesn’t work!

For an earlier blog on a similar subject (You’d think I would have learned from this one), check out one of the Five Mistakes Retailers Make:

PART IV: Ads filled with information but no message

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