By John Houle

We all know that we are living in one of the worst economic periods in our lifetime, but you do not need to remind people about it in your marketing. So, all headlines for ads or sentences in newsletters that begin with such unoriginal lines as, “Especially in these difficult economic times…” should be tossed on the trash heap of trite marketing slogans.

No one wants to be constantly reminded about how bad things are when they turn on their TV, listen to their radio, or read their newspaper; there’s plenty of bad news for the media to over-hype. So, you do not need to tell people in your ads. However, there is an exception. You can illustrate the rising cost of goods and show a comparison to the savings you could offer.

While you’re cleaning out your advertising clichés, you also can toss out “competitive pricing.” I simply expect that you will be providing me a competitive rate, so instead of telling me, show me. Demonstrate for me in an ad how I could actually save with a real dollar figure – $300 is more real to me than some percentage you say I can save. And when it comes to the holidays, unless you are simply wishing people happy holidays in your ad and not actually planning on selling anything, then do not try to tie in your ad with the season. Why you ask? Because everyone else is doing it, and your ad will be lost with the rest of them.Which leads me to the real issue. Be original. Don’t fall into the trap of attempted cleverness, thinking you’re actually being creative by playing off of what is in the news or even worse, the season. This means no more “Fall Back Into Savings” or “A Fresh Start to the New Year.”It’s time we return to what the true focus of advertising is all about – selling! You know that when the best sales people are closing the deal, they do not waste time bogging down prospects with unnecessary superfluities. No, they clearly state the benefit of what they are selling, making a connection between the product and consumer. Good advertising and marketing is an extension of the sales effort; it is supposed to be your best salesperson reaching the thousands of prospects that a single human being is incapable of personally visiting. You would not want your best salesperson out with potential customers moaning about the state of the economy or making blanket statements that anyone can see through – then why would it be acceptable in advertising?John Houle is the owner of JH Communications and provides marketing-communications direction to insurance agencies, companies, associations and small businesses.