5 Attention Getters to Avoid in Your Business

Everyone knows the “marketplace” is crowded and that in order to attract customers or clients you need to stand out. You have to grab attention or you will be ignored. Woman With Megaphone

Well, sometimes getting the attention you desire is easier said than done. I’ve noticed, especially over the last week, that the attention you garner isn’t always the kind of attention you were going after.  You have to make sure your marketing and communications are truly saying what you want them to say.  Are they aligned with your values, your message, and your mission?

Over the last 7 days or so, I’ve noticed some marketing ideas go terribly wrong. So wrong that these marketing efforts actually repelled customers instead of attracting customers.

So here are 5 “attention getters” you should avoid, unless you want to look like a schmuck and drive business away.

Using Words Your Audience Might Misinterpret

When I was thinking of a title for this article, the first thing that came to mind was, “How to avoid looking like a dipstick.” Luckily, I decided to look up the word “dipstick” and found that it means moron, but it also means a derogatory word for a man’s you know what.  That was not exactly what I was trying to convey. Whew, I’m glad I caught that!

Today I read an article about Sarah Blakely, the Billionare inventor of Spanx, and she told a story of  how she went on and on about how a pair of Spanx “lifts and separates your fanny” during a BBC interview.  Eventually, the interviewer stopped her and told her that “fanny” means “vagina” in England and that she must be referring to one’s “bum.” Sarah probably would not have sold as many pairs of Spanx if she hadn’t corrected that faux pas.

The point is: choose your words carefully and make sure they communicate what you really want to say.

Discussing Religion or Politics Lightly

Many people would say that you should never discuss religion or politics in business, but I am all for speaking your truth, expressing what you believe, and being open to dialogue about complex topics. However, if you choose to speak on these topics, you should know that you are going to alienate and anger some people and probably lose some cutomers, clients, and maybe even friends. It isn’t a decision to take lightly, so if you are going to do it, do it with forethought, respect, and integrity.

Today, on Facebook, the owner of a line of beauty products mentioned that her “word of the week” was “Hova” in honor of rapper Jay-Z , whom she credits for inspiring her to give an awesome speech. She goes on to call him a prophet and talks about channeling “Hova.” Well, it turns out that Jay-Z’s nickname, “Hova,” is derived from “Jehovah,” as in God. This post sparked a firestorm of negative comments and a slew of people vowing never to buy her products.  In essence, people thought the post was blasphemous. I’m not sure if she was aware of the religious parallels or not. The lesson of the story, however,  is to think through your communications carefully and make sure you are conveying what you want to say, especially if religion or politics are involved, or could be construed as such.

Dropping F-Bombs Willy-Nilly

One colleague of mine has a 4-letter word in everything she writes or says.  It is very distracting from her true message and the great work that she does. I’m not offended by it, but it comes off as gratuitous and immature. I’ve noticed a trend of entrepreneurs trying to show that they aren’t part of the “status quo” by using cuss words like it’s going out of style (which it is in my opinion). Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think you have to censor yourself all of the time, but you should be mindful of how you are using language. One of my mentors is prone to dropping the F-bomb, but that’s authentic for her.

The problem is that a lot of people I see are letting F-bombs fly because they think that makes them authentic, real, raw, rebellious, edgy, cool, or whatever it is they are trying to be.  Some people are trying to differentiate themselves from the other folks in their industry that are perceived as more “airy fairy,” “fluffy,” new age, etc., but instead of looking more authentic, they just look unprofessional and end up landing themselves on the other side of the “me too” coin. It’s okay to communicate in your own natural voice.  In fact, it’s better than okay–it’s exactly what you should do.


Putting Your Bottom Line Above People

My daughter was sick last week and I had to take her to the doctor.  It was a very cold day, just 9 degrees with a wind-chill of -4.  A wind-chill advisory was in effect all day. On the way to the doctor’s office, I noticed a young man on the side of the road dressed in a flimsy costume dress (he had a coat on underneath) holding a sign for a Tax Company. I was afraid he’d get frost bite.

On the way back, after my daughter’s appointment, there were two young men standing on the side of the road holding signs for the tax company. I thought, surely this company doesn’t realize there is a wind-chill advisory.  So I pulled over, called them and asked if they knew there was a wind-chill advisory. The manager said he was aware of the advisory and that the guys only go out for 15 minutes at a time and they have hand warmers and hot chocolate. I thought “ok.” But then the manager gave me a sneak peek at his values by adding this statement, “No matter how cold it is we still have to have them out there to bring in the customers.”

Really? If torturing people on the side of the road in bitter cold is all you can do to bring in customers than you have big issues.  Needless to say, I will not be doing business with a company that puts their employees at risk just to bring in a few customers.  I can think of 1000 better ways to market your business. If I thought this manager was heartless, I’m sure other passers-by thought the same thing.  Make sure your marketing is in alignment with your values because prospects will form an opinion of you based on it. These days, consumers want to do business with businesses that stand for more than just making a buck.

Seeking Attention for Attention’s Sake

Excuse my French, but don’t be an attention wh$re. Don’t sell your soul to get in front of more people. Please don’t put your kid on facebook with a sign to get likes.  Please don’t show pictures of wounded soldiers or terminally ill children just to get likes. That’s called exploitation and it’s a rather despicable thing to do.

Please don’t pull a Go Daddy. Go Daddy is notorious for creating ads that are really designed to get attention for the sake of attention.  Last night’s Super Bowl ad from Go Daddy is a great example of how terribly wrong this can go for you. Within seconds of airing, people were talking about how terrible and disgusting their ad was.  Even long-time customers began looking for alternative places to do business.  Some may argue that all of the attention they got was a good thing, but it’s not really. Driving away customers is very expensive, and it’s hard to get new ones when you’ve already disgusted them while the world was watching.  It’s like the boy in school who likes you but pulls your pony tail and chases you with a booger to get your attention. You notice him alright, but you don’t want anything to do with him. If you make me want to vomit during the Super Bowl, I don’t want to do business with you.  Plain and Simple.

I would love to hear what you think.  Please feel free to leave your comments below.





About Tiffany deSilva

Tiffany deSilva is the founder, CEO, and visionary leader of BrightFire Women’s Business Network, LLC.

BrightFire Women’s Business Network is the premiere sales training and coaching resource for service-based women entrepreneurs who want to increase their sales, serve more people, and change more lives.

Feedback & Comments:

  1. I didn’t see the offensive Go Daddy ad, but they lost me a few years ago anyway. Great tips, and I bet I know who you are talking about who sticks in the F-bomb just for shock value. Didn’t know about the “fanny” word in England. Oh God, I’ve probably used that word over there before (but not in a speech, thank God!). Great read!

  2. Interesting things to avoid. I would say dressing up your employees in gorilla suits or green Statue of Liberty gowns and crowns is a dumb way to market regardless of the temperature. I would have to wonder what kind of customer I am getting with that kind of advertising.

  3. Heidi Alexandra says

    Great tips and advice here Tiffany which seem common sense but sadly are more often not! We also call a vagina a fanny here in Australia so I caution all your readers when communicating with us Aussies also. And I fully support your point about not being an “attention wh$re” the need to grab the limelight using unethical or desperate measures will never have the long term successful impact as authentic marketing will.

  4. Tiffany, This blog post is hilarious! Great points all around. I completely agree with you about the despicable commercial not only for the company you mentioned but for several others as well. Thanks for reminding me how glad I am to live in the South where, thankfully, dropping F bombs would not be considered appropriate!

  5. Tiffany,

    I agree with you 100%. That’s exactly why I created my program How to Create Marketing Messages with Integrity. I am so tired of people who are just not keeping it real or doing things for the sake of publicity even if it means bad publicity (like the Go Daddy Superbowl commercial).

    Great post. Solid points. Keep it real!

    Write on!~

    Lisa Manyon

  6. Loved this post – great examples and good reminders of how one can get waaaaaay off track in their effort to stand out. Sometimes mistakes are made innocently – but it’s always worth an extra thought before putting something out there.

  7. Tiffany
    I agree, really good read and good biz advice for all of us! well done for stopping and talking to the manager – those poor guys!
    and PS, for us South Africans, fanny means the same thing as in the UK and Oz!

  8. Great advice Tiffany! Researching words and their use seems pretty important when you are in foreign territory but it also seems to me that when one is really delivering quality you don’t have to go to lengths that are insensitive and poor taste. Agree about the Go Daddy ad!

  9. Well-done! I agree with you on all points, especially Putting Your Bottom Line Above People. As far as GoDaddy….maybe they aspire to “even bad press is good press”, as it gets people talking?

    • Thank you Carmen! I’m pretty sure GoDaddy does believe the saying “even bad press is good press.” This ad did generate a ton of new business for them, but it also turned off a lot of existing customers.

  10. Tiffany,
    LOL! You had me laughing. I enjoyed your examples. The one addition to other comments is some people are only going for a certain niche and if the methods you describe is what their niche vibrates with then they are okay to go there. Just not my cup of…er… tea.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it, Mitch! :-) Yes, I agree–you should do things that resonate with your audience and align with your own values. Not everyone will like what you say, but at least you know you’re being authentic and showing up with integrity. what’s cool in one niche won’t neccessarily fly in another.

  11. Totally agree Tiffany. Attention for attentions sake is obvious and uncool. And desperation smells bad. Far better to do something that clients really want, need or appreciate to get attention the good old fashioned way.
    Great post, thanks!

  12. What awesome points you make, Tiffany! And so on target, given the GoDaddy Superbowl ad that creeped me out..LOL I completely unsubbed from someone’s list because she was constantly using 4 letter words in her info. Trust me, I’m no saint, but I would think that common sense would dictate that there’s a time a place to let loose with the profanities and a time to keep in in check. IMHO, for my biz, I keep it in check (most of the time..;->)

  13. I love the tip about seeing the company “values” reading between the lines like the tax company you mentioned. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what a company truly stands for. Great job Tiffany!

    Kiyla Fenell

  14. Awesome points and you make one think about how each move we make and each word we speak is “branding” ourselves in the moment. Your brand is your business. Great read!…pep

  15. Tiffany – As I read this post, I found myself cheering for each each one! ALL of these are fantastic reminders for every business owner … and OMG, you hit on a huge pet peeve of mine … “Dropping F-Bombs Willy-Nilly”

    No, using the f-word doesn’t make you authentic, it just makes you look like a moron. Are you so inept and communicating what you’re thinking / feeling that you can’t use intelligent words? It’s unprofessional and bad enough when you say it, but even WORSE when you write it … it’s so much more deliberate when it is consciously written. Not much respect for that!

  16. Sometime so many what-to-do’s and what-not-to-do’s are confusing. And too many bullet points to remember. I guess down to the bottom line: I do what I authentically feel like doing. Atention will flow, or not, but I’ve done what I feel like doing, and it’s enough.
    Do business is like do life. There is no difference.

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