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Say This. Not That.

Johnny Molson

Listen here…

SAY THIS:  “We’re Carlsbad Chiropractic, and available for you when you need us.”

NOT THIS:  “…and Carlsbad Chiropractic is open during the COVID-19 crisis, and we want to assure our customers we are following all CDC guidelines.”

SAY THIS: “You can now go online and order Tico’s Tacos anytime.”

NOT THIS:  “For the safety of our customers and valued Tico’s Tacos employees, we are only accepting online orders.”

SAY THIS: “Partridge Plumbing guarantees to leave your home doctors-office-clean when we’re done.”

NOT THIS:  “…and rest assured, we use professional-grade chemicals to wipe off all common surfaces of the dangerous coronavirus.”

SAY THIS: “I’m Angie, and at Angie’s Autos I’ll send you a custom video of any car on our lot, and drive it right to your home for a free test drive.”

NOT THIS:  “In these troubling times, we’ve all had to adjust to the new normal.  Until further notice, all new and used car sales will be done virtually using Skype or Facetime.”

The mad dash to make special “COVID-19” advertisements has been an unexpected boon for copywriters, producers, and graphic artists. But is it necessary?

Probably not.

I say “probably” because there are exceptions. If you are one of the many distilleries that has temporarily converted your operation to make hand sanitizer, you should probably adjust your advertising before someone takes a swig. But for many businesses, little or no adjustment is needed.

If you want people to know you’re “still open,” then ADVERTISE. If a business is advertising, I’m thinkin’ they’re probably open.

Your customer doesn’t need to know you’re “here for her during these uncertain times.” Just do the job she’s paying you for.

In the “SAY THIS” examples above, there’s plenty of information to get across the idea you’re open and you’re doing some things slightly differently. The “NOT THIS” examples are the ones I know you’ve heard blast into your already fearful heart by other businesses.

Your customer is already plenty freaked out. By the time he hears your commercial, he’s already read 8 different articles, consumed enough TV news to choke an elephant, scrolled through a waterfall of Facebook posts, and been hit with the Twitter hashtag “StayTheF—Home” 193 times.

It’s the equivalent of boarding an airplane and the pilot says, “Welcome aboard folks, and don’t worry…that problem with the flaming engine yesterday has been completely repaired.” What do you suppose I’m thinking about the whole flight? It ain’t the mini bag of gourmet pretzels, that’s for sure.

I’m not suggesting you ignore the realities or pretend like none of this is going on. But the truth is, 87% of the COVID-19 commercials you see are simply a business echoing another commercial some other business did.

If you’ve temporarily changed how you do business, then just explain what you’ve done. Be clear. Tell me why it’s awesome and how it’s going to solve a problem I have. If I need to hear about COVID-19, I’ll watch Anderson Cooper. But I’m also hungry and want one of those great Tico’s Tacos…so, tell me Tico, how do I get one?

Still not sure how to do it? Send me an email,, with the subject “Say This.” Tell me what your business is and what you are doing differently right now that you think people need to know (or just send me your ad). I’ll write you a clean, one-line sentence that will get the job done. If I think it doesn’t need to be said, I’ll simply tell you to keep doing what you’re doing and remove all the ugly “coronavirus-plane-is-on-fire” stuff in your ad.

Be well. Wash your hands. We need ya.

Johnny Molson

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