There are some people who are just being polite, and others who really want to know what you did over the weekend and how it went.
I assume that most of us don't really want to know. We just want to make a mild connection. So we all know we're safe.
A lot of advertising talks to me that same way. They're being polite, maybe even somewhat entertaining, but they don't really expect to hear from me. They won't.
Every day, Macy's tells me their having a super sale. They're just being polite. If they were really interested, they'd tell me what that suit could do for me. How it could open doors, make me look better, even make me look slimmer. Instead, in bold letters in red ink, they're telling me what everybody knows. They're having a sale for a change. They wanted me to know. They were just being polite.
Macy's has the chance to remind us what we loved about department stores years ago. They had the real Santa Claus. We dreamed of being locked in the toy department overnight. But they don't tell their story. In fact, do they even have a toy department today, or have they taken that away,too? Toys R Us has never been the adventure that department stores were. The department store had, in one building, everything you could want in your lifetime. And they blew it.
Today it's hit and run. Buy something on sale and run for the specialty store you love. In a way, that's how Nordstrom competes with Macy's; by feeling like a big specialty store. Stuff to die for, and service that responds while you're still among the living.
Getting back to advertising, the "polite" kind doesn't seem to work. Who wants to buy a polite car? Who wants to look polite at a party? Do we really want to wear a polite fragrance? Advertising is trying to be polite, while that other side of you is screaming to be noticed.
A lot of people starting out in advertising try to be polite. They try to make ads that look and talk like ads. When someone tries to get them out of the box, they look for another box to drive into. They go from the pizza box to the toothpaste box to the family around the dinner table box.
My advice is simple. Don't be so polite any more. Be tough, or romantic, or provocative, or even silly. Make your marketing too appealing to pass up.
In other words, the next time someone asks about your weekend, tell them the truth. That'll get their attention.