King-Size Marketing Lessons for Small Business


Burger King has recently decided to drop a long-running branding campaign which featured, what some would call, the "creepy king guy." From its inception, this in-your-face marketing strategy garnered attention. Whether it was positive or negative, most people were quite aware of this highly-visible mascot.

In the media and communications world, how many times have you heard a PR expert allude to the idea that even “negative” press is good press – a least you’re part of the discussion, right? Well, this conventional wisdom was put to the test by a very simple benchmark – sales. As it turns out, Burger King’s highly creative marketing strategy was not producing results. For example, there were indications of declining sales. This was made clear in the first quarter while rival McDonald’s realized a bump in sales for the same period.

As a small business, there many valuable lessons tucked away in Burger King’s failed marketing endeavor. Let’s take a moment and highlight some of the most important ones.

See Beyond CreativityWhile creativity is a fundamental component for sound marketing, it is important to know when you have too much of a “good thing”. After viewing your marketing pieces, are people saying, “I gotta have that!, ” or are they saying, “Wow, that was a really cool ad!” If it’s the latter, you may be in for a king-size wakeup call (pun intended). Creativity should never eclipse the basic idea of selling your product or service.

Laughing With You or At You?In an effort to stand out, some small businesses push the envelope as far as they can. It is important to understand that the further you take things, the higher the risk that you become an object of ridicule – not adoration. This reminds me of people who have absolutely no vocal talent, but insist on belting out tunes on reality singing competitions; instead of becoming famous, they fall into the infamous box. Don’t take your marketing so far to the edge that you only serve as a punch line.

Keep It SimpleSome small business marketers feel that real advertising is when you are able to develop a company-specific app, CGI (computer-generated imagery) ads or secure the endorsement of an A-List spokesperson. While these things are pretty impressive, they do not constitute sound marketing. Great marketing is about identifying the need of your audience and communicating that you are able to meet that need – that’s it. This communication should be incredibly simple, succinct and easy to remember.

Measure Success In DollarsYou would think that small business owners would want to know whether their marketing efforts are paying off, right? To my chagrin, I’ve discovered that many businesses never take the time to quantify success while marketing; many just run ads and hope for the best. Don’t be one of them. Before launching your campaign, grab your sales numbers from previous weeks or quarters and be ready to compare and contrast with your current activity while advertising.

Walter Dailey is a marketing speakerand proven creative strategist. He’s the lead consultant and executive producer for Dailey Sound Vector Media, a creative services organization that specializes in jingles, radio ads and marketing campaign development for small businesses throughout the US.  Ask Walter your questions at