Monday, February 20, 2006

A bad ad that redeems itself beautifully

So, what are the results of “Results-Driven Advice?”

Looks to me like you’re left tottering uncertainly, facing almost certain ruin if you tip back even a bit.

But according to this ad from Grant Thornton in the latest issue of PROFIT Magazine, what this picture represents is “Perfect balance… achieved through working hard, having fun and always giving great client service.”

Maybe. But to me balance is a chair with four feet on the ground, not two.

The other problem with this ad is the incredibly tenuous link to the client benefit. The image and the “balance” theme have nothing to do with Grant Thornton.

The payoff line is this: “The financial advisory service that fits us? Grant Thornton. Their insights and guidance help us sit pretty and considering we’re in the office furniture business, that's a very good thing.”

The key, then, is the incredibly lame pun about “sitting pretty.”

One more problem: While it’s a sound idea to use real entrepreneurs and their testimonials in ads (because entrepreneurs only really trust each other), you need to follow through. For instance, while Jim Mills (pictured above) and his company, Office Interiors, seem to be real (and Halifax-based, no less), the URL they provide,, isn’t working. Here is the screen that URL served up on Sunday night.
(Monday night update: The company's website was back in business when I checked again tonight.)

So what redeems this ad? Grant Thornton’s respect for its entrepreneurial prospect – and his or her ego. The action step in the lower text box is to call or e-mail GT’s CEO, Alex MacBeath, through a toll-free number or what appears to be his actual e-mail address.

This is classy. We’re not sending you to a website or an $8-an-hour call centre clerk. Speak to the boss, CEO to CEO. Because you’re worth it.

I bet that’ll do more to make the phone ring than the smug guy in the unsafe stool.

YOUR TAKEAWAY: Treat entrepreneurial clients as important individuals. Because in their world, they're the boss. And they expect to be treated as such.

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