Better Your Brand: As Told By An Award Winning MarCom Company

Good Advertising Tells The Truth

As soon as I say the word “advertising,” I know many of you are going to tune out. The same way you fast-forward the DVR, change the station or curse that ad popping up on your screen.

So, why is so much advertising “bad?” On the contrary, there is often good advertising. Just watch the Super Bowl. Often times, the advertising is better than the game itself. Which then begs the question, why is Super Bowl advertising accepted and enjoyed while the rest is detested? (Hint: it’s not because advertisers spend more money on the Super Bowl; a great idea costs no more than a bad idea).


First and foremost, good advertising tells the truth in an interesting way. If it’s misleading or confusing, it’s bad. The BBB was actually founded because a few bad-apple companies tried their hand at false advertising. If a company is an Accredited Business by the BBB, they are in the starting place of good and truthful advertising.

What does Accreditation mean to a company like MSI? How does upholding the Standards of Accreditation help MSI to remain successful?

MSI is an advertising agency. The BBB was founded on truth in advertising. We think that being a BBB Accredited Business not only means that we subscribe to that belief; it’s also the sign of a better business.

What is one of the biggest and most common mistakes brands make in their efforts to connect with consumers?

Nowadays, consumers reject advertising not because it’s false, but because it has no meaning to them. When advertising for a brand just talks about the brand itself without thinking about how the product or service fits into the life of the consumer, we tune it out. We want information about what the brand offers, but we also want to understand– “what’s it going to do for me?”. Advertisers can get so excited with the desire to tell their story that they forget to include the consumer in the conversation. It’s like meeting someone who only talks about themselves – we can’t wait to walk away.

What role does trustworthiness and transparency play in consumer relationships and brand loyalty?

Brands try to establish relationships with their customers, the same way that we establish relationships with friends, neighbors and new people we meet. If the brand can’t be trusted, and if how the brand interacts with customers is not positive and transparent to the consumer – the brand may get trial but it will get little repeat business… and no referrals. And that’s what loyalty is all about. Think about a positive experience we each have had with a business – we tell our friends, we tell our relatives, we tell our neighbors. Just the other day I got an email from a group asking if anyone had positive experiences with a small printer. Three trusted members of the email distribution chimed in with recommendations. As you might expect, turns out that all three recommendations were for BBB Accredited Businesses.

How big of a role has social media played in your campaigns for your businesses and how has it changed?

Social media, when it works well, can be the best friend of both the consumer and the business. When consumers post positive experiences with businesses on social media, other consumers can use that information to guide their purchasing decisions. Whether it’s for a restaurant, a roofer or a rehab clinic, when consumers can make more informed decisions that makes for a better overall experience. Social media also gives consumers the opportunity to interact with companies to get additional information. We can’t and shouldn’t put everything in an ad. The ad is to create interest and attention. Websites and social media are for detailed information and interaction with the business where consumers can ask questions like, “Do you have that in stock? Do the sizes run large or small? Why aren’t you open on Tuesdays?”. It’s the new form of customer service.

It’s interesting that for some “review” websites and social media platforms that claim to offer reviews, those reviews are either completely anonymous or are, in fact, paid advertisements in the form of social media reviews. Even some very well-known providers of information for things such as home improvement services and reviews of restaurants offer information that can be posted by someone who has never done business with or even been to that place. You don’t know if it’s someone with an axe to grind or the business owner’s favorite uncle writing the review.

What differentiates the BBB and makes it so valuable to consumers is that its reviews are verified as being only from consumers doing business with that company. Positive or not, they’re the real deal.

Explain how has one of your clients has changed their approach to generating small emotional ties between their brand and their customers?

The work we did for MB Financial Bank is a great example of how a business creates emotional ties that help in their success by being more relevant to the consumer. In this case, the MB consumer is the owners and founders of small and mid-sized businesses in the Chicago area.

When we first started working with MB, their advertising was chest-beating – “isn’t MB great” -creative. It was all about them and there was nothing in it for the audience.

We turned that around and made that about the business owner; we honored the reasons why they run a business. Just listen to one of the MB television scripts. You can hear some of the reasons that we heard:

“Many people think you run a business just to make money.

No. You run a business because you get to build something.

You get to impact the future. To help employees and partners put their kids through school.

You get to create value that didn’t exist before — Because that’s your name on the building.

And it’s not just a payroll, it’s people’s lives, and they’re like family.

And there’s nothing like reporting to yourself.

At MB Financial Bank, we know why you work. MB Means Business.”

As you can read from this example, this advertising is all about the audience. MB simply states that it understands who their audience is, how they think, and therefore, what they need. It’s 90% about the audience and 10% about the company.

And it’s really a reflection of how MB does business: that’s the important thing. All we were doing is telling the truth in an interesting way. MB is a leader in the business-banking marketplace because they really do understand business owners.

So the change that we’re showing here is how advertisers create emotional ties between themselves and their customers starting with the advertising that is one of the most regular presentations of a brand. The change for MB, and for other companies with whom we work, is to think about who the audience is and what their needs are. Then relate the brand’s product or service to that need.

What is the biggest shift in the way consumers connect with their favorite brands?

This is an easy one: mobile. The smart phones that we have are allowing us unprecedented access to information and brands — in real time. We’re at lunch and want to know who nearby has the brand of shoes we want. What do we do? We grab our phone. We want to see if we can get a better insurance rate? It’s on our phone. We want to talk with someone about how to assemble the grill we just bought. We call them up, even on a Sunday. Brands have to be mobile accessible and available more often than ever before. That’s what’s delivered by the better brands. And that’s what’s becoming expected of all brands.

Written by Dave Hamel, MSI Strategy Principal 

Better Your Brand: As Told By An Award Winning MarCom Company

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