A business sign that makes me laugh

A changeable sign  by Stutts-Cox builders in Tomball Texas reads, "Quiet Please Meditating..The sign"
This sign made me laugh each time I drove by when they put up this message.

For the past week the Stutts-Cox Contractors sign I’ve driven by on my way to work has made me laugh with the message “Quiet please meditating..the sign.” Typically they use their sign on the side of a 55 mph road to congratulate a community member that has done something of note, such as congratulate the local homecoming queen and king.

Do I think it’s the best advertising for them? Honestly, no. I’ve been driving by this sign for a year and a half and, prior to taking this photo, I’d never read the name of the business responsible for the sign.  As a former outdoor salesperson, I can tell you it’s too many words/too small of words to be seen at that speed and there’s too much visual clutter around it.

But I do think, for those who do know who the sign is by, it creates some community goodwill for the company. By putting up a humorous saying every once in a while, I also think this sign gives the company a bit of a personality, which is becoming more essential in branding these days.

Lifetime Fitness model too thin. This billboard needs to come down.

A Lifetime Fitness billboard with a model that is too thin, anorexic-looking. The copy says "I can do it all in my lifetime"
A Lifetime Fitness billboard with a model that is too thin, anorexic-looking. The copy says “I can do it all in my lifetime”

Dear Lifetime Fitness,

Normally I don’t use this blog to openly criticize advertisements and the companies that put their brand on them, but I find the above billboard for your fitness centers in Houston, TX absolutely appalling.

This woman is not fit, she’s anorexic-looking. Particularly, her arms are the size of small twigs. They can’t be real; they must be graphically modified. At least, I hope so.

We’ve done a lot of work as an industry to get away from using too-thin models and, instead, using models that are fit AND healthy (for examples, see Shape Magazine or Oxygen Magazine). Advertisements like this that show someone who is simply too thin to be healthy are a step in the wrong direction and outright harmful to the impressionable.

Please take it down immediately, replace it with a model that is a true portrayal of health and fitness, and figure out a way to do so in all future ads.

Sincerely,
Nicole Finkbeiner

P.S. If you are wondering why I chose this venue to bring this matter to your attention, it wasn’t my first choice. I was planning to send you an email and/or talk to you via your Facebook page. But, after reading comments on your Facebook page about unhappy consumers not being treated well by your customer service staff and seeing how Facebook complaints are handled on your page (most responses from your company are of the “We are sorry, but you, Mr, Customer, are wrong” nature), I decided to utilize my blog instead.

Lessons from sales series: Three-legged stool, leg #2, you have to love your product or service

When I was working at Adams Outdoor Advertising, they brought in Dr. George Pransky of Pransky and Associates to talk about what would make us successful.  One of the things he talked about was a three-legged stool. The three legs were: You have to love people, love your product, and be resilient.

#2 on the three-legged sales stool is today’s topic: love your product

It’s one of the oldest sales adages out there, you can’t sell what you don’t love. And, it’s so true. It’s really hard to convince someone else that you have the greatest thing since sliced bread if you aren’t convinced of that yourself.

Does that mean you have to believe your product or service is right all of the time?  No.  When I was selling billboard advertising, I knew my product wasn’t right for everyone. But, I targeted the customers I knew it was right for and shared my love with them vs. those it couldn’t help.  And, by the way, I’m still madly in love with outdoor….good outdoor that is.

A young woman at a table with a stack of CD's she is selling
It’s easy to sell CD’s for a band that you love. And, I bet that’s why this young woman has a smile on her face while doing it! From flickr mikecogh

This “love your product” advice is also why I work in higher education and particularly why I work at a community college. I believe to my core that education is the best way for our children to succeed. And, I believe community colleges offer the right combination of opportunities (small class sizes, affordable tuition, etc.) for a large majority of our population.  This belief makes my job of “selling” the college I work for, community colleges, and higher education in general, very enjoyable and easy (although a lot of work!). If you ask me to get up in front of a group and discuss my college, the hard part won’t be trying to get me to do it, the hard part will be getting me to STOP talking.

So, if you are going to be in sales, marketing, advertising, public relations, etc., find a product or service you love to “sell.” You will be amazed at how much more successful you will be at your job.