Joe the Plumber Needs to Flush Vague Out of His Ad Pipeline

Joe the Plumber Needs to Flush Vague Out of His Ad Pipeline

Vague does not work in plumbing ads or any other advertising.

Since he is so much in the news of late, let us use JOE THE PLUMBER to build an example and show the difference between vague selling points that rarely get noticed or acted upon and a tangible message that gets attention and is likely to stimulus action.

Joe decides that his main rare selling point is quick service. After all, no one wants to wait around all day for a plumber (or any trades person) to show up.

Like most small business owners, Joe needs his advertising to generate immediate business. He puts together an ad that reads something like this:

Call Joe the Plumber for Speedy Service

*Trenchless sewer lines

*Water heaters

*Hydro Jetting

*Sewer Inspections by Video

*Drain Cleaning

*Preventative Maintenance

*Free Estimates


24 hours – 7 days a week

Joe dresses up the ad with a clever line art graphic that portrays a plumber on the run with a monkey wrench in his right hand.

Is this ad typical? You bet it is. Is this ad effective? No, because it is VAGUE! There is no concrete reason for you to believe that Joe will live up to YOUR expectation of SPEEDY.

The ad that Joe proposes to run does not have to be larger. It does not have to be in color. It certainly should not run more than once!

In short, the ad Joe proposes is pretty much a waste of money. It is because VAGUE is never effective. VAGUE equals FUZZY which method that this ad reads, sounds and looks pretty much like every other plumbing ad.

The words fail to differentiate the sets Joe offers from the dozens of other companies touting the exact same thing. SPEEDY probably method something different to Joe than it does to his customers.

What happens when we attach a dollar amount to SPEEDY? Not an amount that will break the bank but one large enough to put some teeth into the message of speedy service.

How about $50! Fifty bucks is a nice round number that makes clear that Joe takes SPEEDY seriously and certainly large enough to get the attention of someone needing the sets Joe offers.

Our new headline reads On time or I will pay you $50!

Customers want Joe to show up when he says he will show up (or before). If Joe says 5 p.m. it better be by 5 p.m. or sooner. If not, you pocket fifty bucks!

That wording puts some teeth into ON TIME. We have now made it clear what Joe method by SPEEDY and ON TIME.

If you compare the words in the first ad with those in the revision, you have a good example of the difference between a general selling point and a concrete message.

The first ad implies speedy but leaves the real definition up to the reader or listener. The revision spells it out and makes it crystal clear. Small changes. Huge difference in perception.

Making the words in your advertising average something (to your audience) is definitely not brain surgery but it also is not easy to do. You need to think about the message you are trying to convey. You need to become your prospect. You need to role play in your mind.

proportion your message with a friend or family member and ask them to tell you what they think it method. If they cannot or if their interpretation does not match up with yours, chances are your words are too vague to be effective.

Go back to the drawing board and put some meat on the bone.

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