Is it OK For Roofing Contractor Marketing to Be Provocative?

I heard an ad on the radio the other day that nearly made me choke on my coffee. After I regained control of my car I had to think of how few ads catch my attention like this one did. Then it made me wonder if roofing contractors would ever be willing to use such a provocative method.
When I say provocative I don’t mean in the sexy sense, I am using the definition “likely to bring a strong reaction”. I can’t tell you the number of times roofing contractors have told me that they will never say anything about the competition or other brands. They tell me that customers don’t like that. On some levels I agree, however I don’t know that it is totally true.
So, what was the ad that caught my attention? Before I tell you the ad I will say that it dealt with a problem that many roofing contractors face – low quality, cheap competitors. The ad was for the Shane Company (you know, your friend in the diamond business). The first sentence was spoken by their deadpan spokesperson. He said something to the effect of ‘Our competitors diamonds are so cheap that they look like a chunk of frozen spit’.
That is the line that had me swerving down the freeway. Then he went on to really add the pain by saying that if you were to buy such a cheap, cloudy, milky diamond you and the loved one you gave it too would never really be happy with it.
I love that ad. You may start thinking that customers don’t really like that. After some research I have to disagree. Let’s look at some of the most successful companies and whether or not they use this strategy. Here are a few: Apple vs. PC – Whopper vs. Polycarbonate Roofing Sheets Big Mac – Verizon vs. AT&T – Ford vs. Chevy. I could go on. These companies call out the competition and people love it and respond to it. This gives them the chance to identify with the company they prefer and helps them to really buy into it.
Would this work for Roofing Contractor Marketing? If done properly. The Shane Company ad did not specifically mention any competitor. What it did do was point out an easily identifiable difference between their product and the Is Slate Worth Money competitors (in a humorous way). It also explained how the customer would likely feel after they purchased the inferior product and reminded them that they can easily avoid that pain and embarrassment by shopping with them.
These are principles that could easily be incorporated into a roofing companies marketing materials. Take some time to identify points of difference between you and your competitors and then don’t be afraid to talk about and advertise those points. But what if my competitor just copies me? That is o.k., in my next post I will talk about a little utilized marketing fact “If you say it first. you own it”. It never sounds as good to a customer to hear “Oh yeah…, we do that too”. So, go ahead, be provocative, your future customers may just like it, even if your competitors don’t!

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