Set your goal and write your plan
Lube Cube was a small b2b company that manufactured and sold above ground storage tanks. There was nothing exciting about the product. It was a concrete cube. However, it was a niche market and our client wanted to increase his market share and become the largest and most profitable above ground storage tank company in the country. That was a BHAG (“Big Hairy Audacious Goal”). The owner of Lube Cube asked us to help and we liked the challenge--advertising and brand development.
I was skeptical at first because the owner was an accountant. Accountants aren’t usually good prospects for advertising because they don’t believe in it. This is my perception. See Bob Evans.
How do you create advertising that meets BHAGs?
Do your homework (know your audience)
We began by doing research on the industry and the competition. We visited trade shows and talked with the competition (the competition was part of our audience). We studied their sales strategies and listened to their benefits. We collected their literature and photographed their booths. We asked the competition what they could tell us about Lube Cube. The competitors were regional companies. They knew very little about any of their competition other than the names of the owners.
We probed our client and their clients to determine what Lube Cube did better than the rest. There wasn’t a big differentiation. The customers said Lube Cube was honest, made a good product, it was readily available, and reliable but they said the same thing about all of Lube Cube’s competitors.
We noticed that none of the competitors used advertising effectively. They had no strategy. They had no consistency. They had nothing to differentiate themselves. They had no ‘big idea.’ Their advertising consisted of small bland ads that they ran sporadically. They seemed to be talking to themselves (this happens frequently). We saw an opportunity to create a huge impact and differentiate Lube Cube at the same time with their advertising.
We did something outrageous
Our strategy was to create an ad campaign that would position Lube Cube as the leader in the industry. There were six competitors, some larger and some smaller than Lube Cube. There were several trade publications that reached the market.
Outrageous advertising doesn’t have to be shocking
We purchased full-page color ads in all of the trade publications. Our ad included a map of the US with our five locations (four of these locations were nothing more than self storage units used to house Lube Cube products to be ready for delivery in the market within a day). We made Lube Cube appear to be a national company.
They call it shock and awe—“military doctrine based on the use of overwhelming power and spectacular displays of force to paralyze the enemy's perception of the battlefield and destroy its will to fight.”
A full-page color ad doesn’t seem outrageous unless you perceive advertising to be very expensive and you don’t focus on your goals and objectives. What the competition saw was a very large company with a big advertising budget coming into their market and some of them panicked.
Our advertising was meaningful and consistent
Sales did not pick up from the first or second ad but three weeks after the first ad ran two of Lube Cube’s competitors called and offered their companies for sale. Within three months Lube Cube had a 50% market share.
We continued the ad campaign for six years. Lube Cube bought out all of its competition. Then Lube Cube received an offer that was too good to turn down from a much larger corporation.
Lube Cube was a great client. They had a goal—they wanted to dominate their industry. They had a realistic budget. They were committed and never waivered in their commitment. They wanted aggressive advertising and were not afraid to engage. Their advertising paid off and created their brand. They achieved their objective of selling the company.
Effective advertising has 5 basic requirements:
- Know your audience
- Set a goal
- Budget to accomplish your goal
- Create a message that communicates your difference (if you don’t have a difference—make one)
- Don’t quit
Advertise. It pays.
About Ken Gasque
Ken Gasque is a brand developer, brand image-maker, marketing planner and designer. Ken works with small companies and Fortune 500 companies who recognize the need to differentiate their products and services to stand out in a cluttered market. Ken is a highly visual, outside-the-box-thinker on advertising, branding and marketing—his work reflects his belief that “We buy with our eyes.” Ken writes and lectures on brands, design, images and brand development. www.Gasque.com