As an active consumer I get tired of advertising that tries to be cleaver.
In Japan, advertising is about being the loudest, most annoying, constantly in your face on every flat surface and
even around the corners. You can't walk anywhere without having people yelling, literally yelling, at you. Thankfully it all becomes a droan of noise for me as a non-Japanese speaking typical American. But I did find the advertising compelling. All of a sudden I wanted to be a 13yo Japanese girl sipping a beverage, with rainbow drums, out of a straw, with a small cartoon wide-eyed friend.
In the US, subtlties and style change often in this $180.2 billion dollar industry annually.
So how does a small business with an annual budget of only a few thousand dollars (or less) compete? Sadly, they don't.
As a small business, you can't be cleaver, subtle, or over-the-top obnoxious. It won't work. You either have too few of people that will see the information or, almost worse, have too many see the information and not react to the message because it doesn't follow their interests or they don't understand what you are selling. When you are adding up impressions (eyeballs seeing your information), it becomes an effort in futility if the people most interested in your message don't see ad, don't understand what you are selling, or can't figure out what you want them to do next.
This is where the "call-to-action" comes into the play. A call-to-action both filters your audience to only people interested in what you are selling and pulls your preferred action. You have a nano-second to capture the attention and convey your message in a clear and obvious manner. Make sure you are answering the following in a clear voice:
WHAT... WHERE... WHEN (if applicable)
Notice that 'Who' is not included. Because unless you are a name that people will instantly identify with, like Coke-a-Cola and Pike Place Market, the general public doesn't really care. Learning about who you are, may help in the buying decision especially with small business, but not much beyond having a feel good moment about supporting small business.
So how should you answer each question from the buyer perspective?
WHAT... What are you selling me? Play, Stay, Eat, Shop Not your brand, not your logo, not your tagline... just clean, simple, what are you selling me, right now.
WHERE... Be specific!! Do not assume that people know where your town is in the world. I see countless brochures that do not include cities, states, or even area codes on there phone numbers. Instead making assumptions that a tourist will know this information. Always think about the person from the other side of the US or even another country seeing your information for the first time. Do they have all of the details needed to make a buying decisions?
What is the thing that you want someone to do first, after seeing your message? Make a call? Go to the website? Walk in the door? Whatever it is, make sure that is the second most obvious item in your brochure, throughout the brochure. Once you catch someone with your call to action, don't lose the sale by making it hard for them to take the next step.
Also, this is a good time to mention, this is not the time to worry about individualism. As much as I know that a suburb of a major city would like their own identity, to the visitor 20 minutes of travel time to a suburb is the same as being in the city. Own that! It's true that Bellevue is its own city with its own attractions, but to someone from New York, it's still Seattle. And that is okay. Piggy back on the success of Seattle's marketing and reach out to the travelers as the best "whatever" of Eastern Seattle.. You can be individual once you get them in the city limits and show them why that was a great decision to visit Bellevue.
WHEN... only if you have an event or deadline. Otherwise, make sure your hours of operation are obvious in your contact info and you will fulfill this mission.
Use your advertising dollars wisely and make sure everything you put out into the world has a clear Call to Action, driving people to your business. Don't worry about being cleaver, just give consumers a clear message and you will see a return on investment.