Friday, September 2, 2011

Put on the red light

There have been several times over the course of my life when I fancied myself an entrepreneur.  When I was nine, I spent the summer selling cookies and lemonade at the end of our driveway.  (Many thanks to Mom who spent that particular summer baking cookies for my inventory.)  Every morning I would drag a little table and chair to the end of the driveway, slap a gallon of lemonade and Tupperware container of cookies on that bad boy and open for business. 

I was a shrewd businesswoman – my marketing campaign consisted of conning my little sister into holding a posterboard sign 20 feet or so past our driveway that said “Turn back!  You just missed lemonade!” (COMPLETELY readable at 45 mph) and both of us shouting “Stop and BUY!” at passing cars (windows closed).  

My motivation?  My own cockatiel.  (Think parrot, but smaller and gray with a white/yellow head and an orange pumpkin patch on the cheek.  Well, where the cheek would be if birds have cheeks.  Do birds have cheeks?  Google was no help on this one.)

The summer was long, but I emerged victorious.  One quarter at a time, I worked my way to owning my own bird, Tiely (pronounced TEEl-ie).  Problem was, Tiely was a brat.  Instead of riding around of my shoulder like I pictured, Tiely bit me every time my twee fingers got near her sharp and hurt-y beak. 

Since I was a…persistent child, I kept trying to fulfill my vision of having a bird BFF.  Basically, I kept trying to pet my bird to try to get her to like me.  She, on the other hand, kept right on biting the annoying kid that would NOT stop poking her.  Ours was a tumultuous relationship – I think Tiely eventually died of consumption.  Or maybe an early strain of bird flu.  Or maybe (probably) I just didn’t clean her cage enough.  RIP, my angry little almost-bird-BFF.

Anywho, that summer pimping cookies and lemonade taught me the importance of a catchy slogan.  Well, and kid guilt – our street was extremely quiet, so I suspect many people stopped just because they felt bad for the little girl that looked heat stroked slumped at a table amid pitchers of warm lemonade.  Whatever, I still got my quarter.  But I digress – the key to a good business advertisement is the hook.  You want people to get interested in the product enough to actually, you know, buy it. 

Before you start on a slogan, you have to figure out your target audience.  Don’t limit yourself to one very specific and small target group.  Especially if that particular group may not exist in a relatively rural and conservative community.  For example, take the following advertisement posted in our local grocery store:

Call me crazy, but I really don’t think limiting yourself to the ‘working lady’ demo is the way to go here.  And what exactly would make this particular room ideal for said ladies?  Velvet covered walls?  A big lady they just call “Momma” working the door?  Nothing but red lightbulbs, as far as the eye can see?  Lots of readily available feather boas?  (Yes, my mental picture of a working brothel is obviously highly romanticized.  As is my mental picture of a hooker.  I blame Pretty Woman and Moulin Rouge.)

I don't know who is going to be more confused in this situation - the entrepreneurial hookers who see a new brothel opportunity or the poor people just trying to rent a room to earn some extra cash who can't figure out why they keep getting messages from Sugars, Candys, Bambis and Stars.

No comments:

Post a Comment