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Give Your Advertising the Black Marker Test

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Does it help you stand out?

Is your advertising sufficiently different? Is it helping you stand out, or is it just blending into the drone/clutter of marketing messages surrounding consumers in your town.

Here’s one test you can try to find out, suggested by the bloodthirstily-titled marketing book, Do It! Marketing: 77 Instant-Action Ideas To Boost Sales, Maximize Profits and Crush Your Competition by David Newman.

Take your ad (it also works with brochures, websites or any other marketing material) and an equivalent piece from your competitor and put them side by side. Black out both company names. Then ask yourself the following questions, and answer honestly:

Could my advertising material be mistaken for the other company’s? Could I just cut out my competitor’s name and put mine on it? Is there any chance my prospects wouldn’t know the difference between the two companies at a glance?

So, how did you do? Try running the same test on your staff, family, customers, and see how you do then.

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If you’re not passing this test, it’s time to take a different approach to your marketing.


This article originally appeared in February 2014.

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