There are many different ways To evaluate your advertising. Of them, this is one of the easiest evaluations to do, and possibly one of the most revealing. Pull out one of your advertisements and take a look at it. Now, grab a black marker and cross out your name Everywhere it appears in your ad and write in the name of one of your competitors.

Here”s the important question: with your competitor”s name in the ad, does the ad still read accurately? If it does, then you fail the evaluation.

Yellow page ads are notoriously bad for having identical-looking ads. Frequently, all of the yellow pages ads in a given section look very similar. Let”s take a section for an example – how about attorneys. You would think an attorney would be fairly proficient at building a case for his or her services. After all, that”s what attorneys do, right? In the Portland phone book, there are more than 1,100 attorney advertisements. And they all look exactly the same. The only thing that differentiates them is their specialty in law. They all fail the Cross Out Write In Evaluation.

Let”s look at a couple of ads: Okay, the first ad is for a law firm that specializes in bankruptcy. The headline reads “Bankruptcy”, and then there”s a picture of a guy sitting with his face buried in his hands like he”s really sad or something. Next to the sad picture is a red stop sign that says, “Federal Law May Allow You To Stop Foreclosures, Bill collectors, Repossessions, IRS Seizures, Lawsuits, and Chapter 7 & 13″ Then there”s a picture of a nerdy looking attorney, a distinguished looking attorney, and a pretty female attorney. “Phone answered 24 hours, Hablamos Espanol” then the phone number and their name. That”s it. A full-page ad at a cost of $91,160 a year! What do you think? Could you take out the name of this law firm and stick in the name of any other law firm and the ad still be accurate? Sure you could.

Now, by way of comparison, let”s take a look at one of their competitor”s ads. One page over there”s an ad with a headline that says, in really big font, “Bankruptcy”. This time there”s no guy, but there”s that familiar stop sign again. “Stop Foreclosures, Repossessions, IRS Garnishments, blah blah blah blah blah.” Different ad, same stuff. This ad has a picture of an attorney, and he looks pretty friendly. But do you think you could cross his name off this ad and put in a competitor”s name and the ad still be accurate? Of course.

Why is passing this evaluation so important? Because your marketing should build a case for your business that definitively and conclusively allows a prospect to draw the conclusion, “I would have to be an absolute fool to do business with anyone else but you…regardless of price.” If your marketing builds that kind of case, then there”s going to be things you do that are unique, that are different, that are better…and that your competitors just couldn”t and wouldn”t say. In other words, your marketing needs to communicate your company”s Inside Reality. If you remember, the Inside Reality, has to do with all the things your business does that actually makes it valuable to your customers – from a product, operations, and management standpoint. It”s what gives you a competitive advantage in the marketplace. It”s the instantly recognizable things that make your business great. It”s your ”Something Good To Say.” And if you truly have something good to say, and you can say it well, then there”s no way you”d be able to fail this writing evaluation.