An idea came to me while sitting on the beach today (as us entrepreneurial types are want to do, according to roughly a million stock photos).

The spark of inspiration was delivered by a little crab that kept popping in and out of his hidey-hole near my blanket. Every time I saw him, some sort of pun or bit of wordplay would pop into my head. Not entirely sure why.

But it got me thinking about how many corny advertisements I’ve seen during my career, and how these types of ads are almost always a waste of space.

When I got back home, I put this together to illustrate my point:

msp ad

It took me all of half a second to come up with the tagline, and maybe 20 minutes to find the stock images and render the ad in Photoshop.

This is absolutely terrible, yet I’ve seen ideas worse than this get used in very high-profile locations.

I’ve even seen this sort of thing on the homepage of an MSP’s website! Right at the top, above the fold, wasting the most valuable real estate on the page.

Why does this happen?

I’m convinced it’s because many people don’t know the difference between creative marketing and corny wordplay. My crab ad might get a chuckle, but it has very little to offer in terms of marketing power. Plus, the crab is kind of creepy.

You really want to avoid this “clever” nonsense in your marketing, especially in extremely valuable places like your website banner.

These tips will help you make sure you don’t waste precious space on puns:

Stay on message
Your advertisements can be funny, but they still need to align with your marketing strategy. The crab doesn’t clearly illustrate a pain point or offer a solution. Unless someone actually had a crab come into their office and sever their network cable, I don’t see it resonating with them.

Avoid cliche phrases
We’ve seen ads that say “Get your ducks in a row” on top of an image depicting…a row of ducks. Taking an aged turn of phrase and slapping it on a stock photo that perfectly matches it is silly at best. Again, it doesn’t carry much in the way of messaging. And it’s boring.

I would let a cliche phrase slide if it was incorporated into some really creative artwork with some kind of embedded message. The phrase isn’t the major problem here, it’s the slapdash application to a stock photo that renders it inert.

Which brings me to…

Don’t just crab …I mean grab… a stock photo and shove a tagline on it
I’m so against doing this that I couldn’t even do it for my example of a bad advertisement. I went through the trouble of adding in the cable and making it look like the crab cut it. Why? Because most of the time, a plain stock photo has no pizazz. No production value. It’s the easy way out, and people will generally notice this and judge you accordingly. I’m not saying you have to make every image on your website a work of art, but don’t be boring or sloppy, either.

Remember that the ultimate purpose of your marketing is to drive consumer behavior. It’s not to make them chuckle or to “get your name out there.”

Not all of your marketing materials should be gung-ho about forcing a buying decision, but it should all create some kind of resonance between your business and your audience.

Join the conversation!

Categories: MSP Marketing Blog