epr developed this 1/3 page ad for the laundry products division of Meese Orbitron Dunne Co. targeting executive housekeepers, laundry managers, facility managers and others involved in buying bulk linen carts and trucks. In an industry where such carts had become commodities and ads had become nearly identical from one company to the next, this advertisement departs from the commonly used photos of a broad range of carts. Instead, the ad features a member of the target audience and speaks to her colleagues as people. It demonstrates the company understands their plight.
Since many companies advertise with small, classified ads, this display ad captures a disproportionate share of attention. Positioned within featured editorial, it stops prospects already in the market for carts and also stops prospects who may have neglected to consider how badly they need to upgrade to the company’s new carts.
After spending the day at the CMM converting and TFM facility management trade shows at McCormick Center in Chicago, I was walking back to my room at the Palmer House Hilton Hotel when I peeked between the doors leading to a service elevator and noticed a laundry cart stuffed top to bottom with clean towels. Thinking it might be a MOD 72P, I ducked inside, verified that it was in fact the MOD 72P and started taking pictures (getting photos of these carts in action is always a challenge) when the elevator doors opened and a houseman came out pushing another laundry cart. As soon as I explained that I worked with the cart manufacturer, he excitedly explained everything he liked and didn’t like about their fleet of carts, as if relieved that someone finally asked him what he thought about the carts he uses every day and that perhaps I could somehow deliver an all-new fleet of carts, or “cans” as they refer to them at the Hilton. Before I could even respond, he was on the walkie-talkie alerting his supervisor that he was bringing me to see him (my Spanish was rusty but I figured it out). We went down the service elevator, through hallways no hotel guest was ever meant to see and eventually came out at the loading dock where the linen carts are picked up and delivered. The sight was similar to when Sigourney Weaver stumbled upon thousands of alien eggs in Aliens. Scores of empty laundry carts of various makes and models filled the area. The supervisor eagerly showed me which carts they liked, which casters rolled easily on the carpeting and which carts made their lives miserable. With one more call over the walkie-talkie, I was escorted back to the service elevator and up we went to the housekeeping department. The executive housekeeper – who could’ve been the model for the stock photo in this ad – agreed there was interest in new carts and very pleasantly explained how the purchasing is done and gave me the manager’s name and phone number. – Paul Entin
This experience demonstrates that several people in different departments and locations with different interests and agendas are often involved in the decision to buy (or not buy). That’s why it’s critical for marketers to deliver their selling messages not only to the primary decision maker but also to everyone involved in the decision. In this case, the executive housekeeper manages a budget but substantial orders must be approved by purchasing. Meanwhile, the drive to buy new carts was actually coming from staffers in housekeeping. The executive housekeeper may be reading magazines like American Laundry News but the purchasing or general manager may be reading Lodging Magazine. Advertisers who reach all of these diverse titles often minimize resistance inside as their salespeople enjoy seeing their quotes sail through into sales.