How to Make Your 'Negatives' a Nonissue

I recently saw a story about a new move McDonalds is making with regard to its position on health and nutrition. While it appears that their core food offerings will remain the same, the way in which they present them has begun to change.

It was recently reported that the nation’s largest fast-food chain will lead their industry with a new menu layout that will clearly outline information such as calorie count, sodium, total fat, carbs and protein.

Given all of what we’ve heard about the nutrition (or lack thereof) from such establishments, why would McDonalds run the risk of making themselves even more vulnerable with this potentially damaging display of openness? The answer is simple; by preemptively going after their perceived shortcomings in an open fashion, their weaknesses cease to be effective weapons in the hands of critics. In short, they are making their negatives a nonissue.

As a small business owner, you too may be carrying around some “negatives.” It may be that there has been a shift in public opinion on what you sell or that your rates are a bit high. The point is if you do not have plans of changing your entire product line, change how you handle the unflattering stuff.

Don’t Ignore the Elephant in the RoomConsumers are incredibly smart; don’t insult them by pretending that your weaknesses are imaginary.  On the contrary, use them to your advantage. You can say things like, “Sure, our shop is located in the middle of nowhere but…” Or, maybe something like, “You’ll forget the hour spent waiting for a table once you taste our…” As you tackle the elephant in the room, you will be free to engage on matters pertinent to increased sales.

Don’t “Ad” to the ProblemI recently saw a TV commercial for a local bank. In my estimation, this institution had several things working against it: they have one location, it is far from the city-center and competition among banks in our area is quite fierce. It’s a tough spot to be in, but not insurmountable.  Their problems, however, compounded by presenting an incredibly cheap-looking commercial.  In addition, there was a bizarre appearance by the bank president feeding his dogs while wearing a tux. The lesson is clear; your marketing should never accentuate your negatives or, in this case, create new ones.

FluidityI recently heard a story about a luxury car dealer that struggled to attract customers due to the downturn in the economy. While the majority of dealers in the area acquiesced and held on for dear life, this particular business crafted highly unconventional ways of going after new customers.  In the end, he was quite successful. Some of you are probably hearing the same story – the economy is horrible. If that is indeed true, be like the quick-thinking dealer and find a way to reinvent your marketing message.  Actively seek out ways of using the very thing that’s hurting you to your advantage.

Walter Dailey is a proven creative strategist. He’s the lead consultant and executive producer for Dailey Sound Vector, a creative services organization that specializes in jingles, radio ads and marketing campaign development for small and mid-sized businesses.  Walter is finally on Twitter. Follow him here: @wrdailey