Should Snowplow Operators Handle Your Painting Projects?

September 3rd, 2009 by Rob Berman Leave a reply »

Social Media is like a tidal wave.  Everywhere you turn you are hearing about Twitter, Facebook, Linked In and many other social media phenomena.

However, many small businesses do not understand and certainly have not embraced these tools.  In many instances, they have not even moved to e-mail marketing.

Local advertising can still be powerful when used properly

Small businesses rely upon that old favorite called Word Of Mouth marketing plus some advertising.  That advertising is often in local papers.  Frequently, those papers are free to the people receiving them.  Every house in a geographic area is part of the circulation.

Here is an ad I recently saw in a local free paper during summer in the Northeast US.

“Painting contractor looking for interior work.  Specializing in refinishing kitchen cabinets.  Unwanted wallpaper need stripping? Thinking about changing colors in your house? Snow plowing available.”

Business owner or copywriter?

Often, the ad is designed and written by the business owner or an employee of the business.  What happens when the business owner does not focus their message?  The result is confusion for the reader or even worse a poor impression of the business.

Most potential clients do not know the company. Their only impression is gleaned from the ad.  A potential customer makes a split second decision to continue to read the ad and contact the business to discuss their services OR to ignore the ad.

Over to you.  What do you think?

  • Would you call this snowplow operator to handle your painting project?
  • Would you call this painter to handle your snowplowing?
  • Is local advertising the way to reach new customers for small businesses?
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  1. reitano says:

    For you to tint white paint, give a packet associated with powdered drink mixture in the desired colored instantly to colour.

  2. I usually come in to fix jobs by guys like this, but unfortunately I have come in to fix jobs by contractors who just paint also. It just shows that research and references go a long way.

  3. you can always say that email marketing is one of the best ways that you can market products :

  4. Great post Rob!

    While “word of mouth” is ideal, everyone has to start somewhere. Kudos to this guy for a noble effort. And, let’s hope his skill is in his work as opposed to writing ability!

    • Rob Berman says:


      Many folks can have mulitple talents. With seasonal businesses there is an off season. This guy paints part of the year and plows part of the year. Hopefully, he is better at them than writing as you said.


  5. I don’t know if I would want to hire him to paint or plow. (Sounds like he may have a bad case of ADD!) On the other hand, I love your headline. I had to read your article to figure out what you were talking about.

  6. paul novak says:

    Ads like that tell you many things. Few of them good.

    The business is not serious.
    He is not professional.
    His credibility is likely questionable.
    He does not specialize.
    He is likely not licensed.
    He is likely not insured.

    It’s very important that if you list multiple services, they be in some way related to your main services.

    Persons like those who place these types of ads are probably local folks operating out of the garage with a pickup and some tools and looking to make a few extra dollars here and there. He happens to have a snowplow gathering dust so, why not chuck it in there too right?

    These are the exact folks who do best with WOM, and should save their money for bills and not advertising. While I might be willing to pay a guy my buddy Joe says will plow my drive for 40 bucks, no way am I going to hire someone whose ad offers to paint my house, who just so happens to plow driveways as well.

    Local advertising is very effective when done right, and for a serious business or services based company, even local and small, is pretty much a must have.

    • Rob Berman says:


      I think you are exactly right. WOM would be his best bet. I am guessing that he does not have enough business to get much WOM. Hence, the ad.


  7. Maybe he plans on using a snowplow to refinish kitchen cabinets? People like this scare me! LOL

    Thanks for the post. It is nice to know that there are others out there who see things like I do – especially when they are totally absurd 🙂

    • Rob Berman says:


      It is kind of absurd that business owners think they are being effective with Marketing like this ad. It keeps a lot of consultants busy helping them.


  8. Laura Sheman says:

    Funny! I wonder if he meant it as a joke of if he felt it would be a way to advertise two things at once (which would be an error). Humor can be a huge asset in advertising. I wonder how he did?

    I probably wouldn’t call him, because I wouldn’t be confident in his ability to do both things.

    I have tried advertising, but it has never worked for me. I get all my business through word of mouth, always have.

  9. I don’t know. His last comment just tickled my ribs. I sort of liked the sincerity of the ad.

  10. I am sure one person could have expertise in all of those areas but the add makes you think he is not specialized in anything.

    You may be able to consult with individuals, large companies, small companies or new startups. companies.If you are at a networking it would be better to say I would like connections with independent insurance companies.

  11. Am not really used to small town marketing anymore. But I do believe that word of mouth is still probably the most important aspect in small towns and villages.

    If the ad you quote had appeared in for instance the New York Times it would have been a disaster for the company. But in a small town I’m not sure if it’s such a big deal. People use whatever painter they like or that’s recommended regardless of his copy writing skills.

    • Rob Berman says:


      Small town or large town it is all about image. The ad does not help his image. Word of Mouth is great if you can get it. If he had enough of that he would not have run the ad.


  12. Susan Oakes says:

    Talk about an added extra. I wonder what his results were.

    Unfortunately with this ad it does not contain any benefit for potential customer.

    • Rob Berman says:


      Exactly. He should be talking about features and benefits. He cannot possibly offer both services at the same time during many months.


  13. Too funny of an ad.

    I don’t normally use the yellow pages but when I do I KNOW what I am looking for the company to say. This is one ad I wouldn’t call mainly because he says “looking for work.”

    If I wanted a snow plower I would be in that section.

    I think for many brick and mortar businesses, local advertising makes sense. Particularly if their business IS local only.

    Love this humor!

    • Rob Berman says:


      Glad I could make you laugh. That was my reaction when I saw the ad. In fact this is the first post I ever wrote for my blog.


  14. peter says:

    This sounds like an exterior painting contractor, which in the NE would be seasonal. The snowplowing makes sense.

    Frankly, its the kitchen and wallpaper “specialization” that gives me pause. How credible is it to declare one’s self one thing and then claim to be a specialist at something else?

    I’ve lived in small, rural NE towns where people cobble together a living doing a number of vaguely related things. So, such an ad in a publication in such a town would probably be typical.

  15. Mary Nell says:

    Hey, Rob!

    To answer the questions
    1) Yes, I would likely call for a painting quote. There is enough info regarding the painting to make me think he might be worth checking out.
    2) No, I probably would not call about snowplow service and not only because I am in southwest Louisiana. 🙂
    3) It is VERY possible that the local rag misprinted the ad!! The local rag in the little town I find myself in is notorious for missing things in a BIG way!! Seriously. I wouldn’t necessarily hold the ad-placer responsible.

  16. Varun says:

    The ad is definitely confusing! I would probably call him for a painting project. To answer your third question, I personally search the Internet before I get into the newspapers. Local advertising is good but they have to use other freely available marketing tools too. It is anyway not going to cost them money.

    • Rob says:


      Thanks for reading the blog. I find that many small businesses still rely on print advertising. They do not understand or have not built any infrastructure to handle on line.


  17. Joe Machuta says:

    Hi Rob,
    It looks like you are off to a good start. It appears that you and I are targeting the same audience. I read the article because I saw it on LinkedIn. I look forward to more of your articles.


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