Can “in your face” messaging up your advertising effectiveness? Advertisers who know the secrets of in-your-face marketing say it’s the only way to go in the ever-increasing clutter, confusion and hyperbole of the zillions of messages assaulting consumers on a daily basis.
Defining “in your face” is the key to success in this strategy.
According to www.thefreedictionary.com, in your face is a slang expression suggesting aggressive, confrontational, provocative posturing. In the Collins English Dictionary, the definition is “blatantly aggressive, having or showing determination and energetic pursuit of your ends.”
The digital world has tried to capture the essence of in your face with shocking hooks in massive typeface, interactive banners exploding across the screen dominating all other information, often delegating the searched matter to deep grayscales until the tiny “x” in the corner or the “skip this message” is clicked.
Broadcast ad wizards try to get “in the face” of viewers/listeners with insults, innuendos and gutter language having absolutely no connection to the target message other than a hope that the shock value will excite and sustain potential customer attention to commercial message attached.
Rather than focusing on what’s right, wrong or inconclusive about the “in-your-face” concept, let me share a few examples of what actually is working in this category.
Lead with negatives. While that sounds counter-intuitive to everything we”ve learned in marketing 101, leading with a negative can be an effective hook in appealing to customers dissatisfied with prior or existing product/service relationships. Typical negative lead-ins in the automobile business might be:
“Sick and tired of the doubletalk and games most dealers play?”
“Did you get gouged the last time you bought a car?”
“Do car dealers lie just to get you in the door?”
(Starts with a few seconds of sped-up disclaimer) “What is that garbled, mumbo jumbo all about anyway?”
Leading with a negative in a sarcastic, cynical tone can gain empathetic emotion suggesting you understand the frustration of previous disappointments. The lead should be short, serious and to the point. Where a lot of ad folks mess up with this concept is taking it too far. Don’t fill your ad space/time with constant back and forth negative/positive comparisons. Illustrate the idea then move to the counter experience of what you have to offer.
“Are you sick and tired of the numbers game some dealers like to play? You see a vehicle advertised for $179.00 a month, then when you get to the dealership, you find out you need a college degree, military experience, and four children to quality for the offer! Maybe that’s why Tom Smith is selling so many Chevys! What you see is what you get! For instance, this week we have five new Chevy Luminas with a payment of only $179 a month with only $1,999 cash or trade equity with 60 month financing at 5.9 annual percentage rate on credit approval by GMAC with a score of 600 or higher. That payment includes everything! Even tax. $179 a month. And by the way, if you’re waiting for all that high-speed garble you hear at the end of most ads, we don’t have to play that game. By the way…we have five Luminas at this payment! Just pick out your color! $179 a month! Tom Smith Chevy makes it easy.”
Street talk. In the age of text messaging and abbreviated conversations, “in-your-face” can simply be an appeal with less structured grammar. This doesn’t mean you should talk like a street hoodlum with a wise-guy accent, it just means communicating on a level your intended audience relates to. Hint: recording actual customer experience, verbatim works extremely well. A number of dealerships now keep pro-video cams and microphones handy to capture real-time responses at time of sale and delivery.
Example: “That’s it, man. That’s all I can afford! Matt Jones of Beantown gave our saleslady Sarah the bottom line. Twenty minutes later, while Matt was having a Starbucks down the street he got a text from Sarah. ‘Got it done. Get your keys.’ That’s how simple buying a car at Bellows Ford can be. You tell us the deal. Tell us what you want to put down. Tell us what you want the payment to be. Then watch how fast we go to work for you. A car dealer that actually listens to the customer? Shut up! Get started with a text to dealme@54467 or fill out your credit app right now at bellows.com. Stop with the games. Start with the dealer who listens…and then gets it done your way. Check our Facebook page to see what real customers are saying. Bellows Ford. Words out: No baloney. Less bread. And we deliver!”
Friendly advice. How would you recommend a car dealer to a friend? You wouldn’t say, “For a deal that can’t be beat you need to visit Midtown Motors, home of service satisfaction.” You’d probably say something like… “No car dealer is perfect, but these people are about as close to that as I’ve ever found.” Here is a paraphrased example of one dealer’s very successful campaign with a first-person format that has been running for almost 20 years:
Example: “Hi, Ed Parker here for Parker Motors. Recently I asked several of our repeat customers what brings them back again and again. Frankly, I was a little surprised. I didn’t hear: ‘the best deal’ or ‘the lowest price’ or ‘no money down’ even though I’d like to think we offer all of those things. What I did hear was friends telling me things like ‘you treat me like family Ed!’ and ‘you fixed my transmission even though the warranty had run out.’ and ‘I don’t know if there’s a lower price out there, but as long as you’re here, I’m doing business with you.’ When my dad started this business almost 60 years ago he gave me some good advice. Take care of your customers. Don’t try to retire on every deal. Always think of ways to exceed our customer’s expectations. Those aren’t slogans, those are the words we live by. If you see a car with our name on the license plate, ask the owner why they bought here. They’ll probably say it better than me. Thank you for making us what we are today at Parker Motors in Hillside. And if you’ve never been here, we’ve love the opportunity to earn your business!”
In your face advertising doesn’t have to be obtrusive, aggressive or vulgar. It can be provocative. Maybe even confrontational. Most importantly, it should reflect reality. It helps if there are consistent unique hooks for brand definition in your marketplace.
Some of you may remember the classic oldies hit: “Tell it like it is.” In a nutshell, that’s the primary objective of in your face advertising.