Don’t ever put that in an ad.

Put the other stuff – who you are, what you do, why you do it, and how come they should think of you first when they need what you are providing and selling and creating. When they need you or are curious enough, you want them to come.

Of course, leave out the free parking, your phone number (they will look it up), and the undisputed fact that you have friendly staff. If you think those are necessary to spell out, we have many things to clarify before you move toward your business taking over the world.

But putting that in your ad should never be done.

If you add the exceptional, fun, WOW! stuff to your advertising then what you are doing will never be enough. We want your clients to walk away working for you with great word of mouth advertising as they tell everyone “You’ll never believe what happened when I checked out that place with the ads…”

We want your business to be beyond bold, and your ads to be just enough to make visiting you by phone, stopping in, or a peek online irresistible. Then, you get to bulldoze them over with the unexpected as they happily hand you their cash.

I’ll have to ask Mom if she still has the picture. In my head I see it, in all its black-and-white glory. Still, I’d love to know if it still exists 54 years later. Moments before it was taken, we three had been excitedly bouncing around the house, waiting and wondering.

It was to be, our parents promised my big brother and I, a giant surprise! Our little sister was too small to understand anything but the electricity in the air.

Was it a clown? Maybe a pony? Maybe a visit from our favorite Auntie and Uncle.

The doorbell rang. It was someone with a HUGE camera. “What a night!” my four-year-old self thought. A door-to-door picture taker, which was a perfect way to pass the time waiting for the unimaginable surprise.

We had all dressed up.

I wore a cozy cream-colored sweater with a grey wool jumper that itched. My brother wore his favorite striped blue sweater with a pattern that’s now back in style. Mom’s hair was gorgeous, piled high and perfect (how did they do that?) and Dad had a precisely knotted skinny tie with glossy hair. He looked like each of my 3 younger brothers who were not yet a “twinkle in his eye”. My baby sister was not to be fooled and looked directly at the camera, oozing cuteness and poise.

We posed in front of new shimmery blue patterned drapes that came from a very expensive store I can still name. My parents ordered them for our low-rental townhouse which is now a gated condo complex way beyond their young family’s budget. The drapes followed us for decades before they became dusting rags.

The camera and the lights finally got packed away. The picture-taking was finally over. It had been fun but my brother and I knew the surprise had to be moments away as we waved goodbye and the door shut behind the photographer.

“Well kids, time for bed.” That would have been Dad. “Yes, that took a lot longer than I thought– it’s really late for you three.” said Mom.

“Hang on.” That was my brother. My sister. And most definitely me.
“What about the surprise? We are still waiting for the surprise!!”
Yeah…. there are not enough exclamation points to contain our wails and whimpers of indignation. Having our family picture taken was the surprise? In what universe was that, in any way, a surprise?

My poor parents had really intended this to be a stellar, exciting family moment. And it should have been. It should have been the most exciting evening imaginable – from the doorbell to the unpacking of the equipment, to the little puppet that was supposed to make all three of us smile (it worked with smiles, laughter, and giggles for all but my astute sister).

The evening ended in a way that wasn’t surprising at all. To bed in tears, beyond overtired and I can’t imagine how exhausted our parents were.

But they broke the rule. They put it in the ad for our evening. They told us there was a surprise coming. A Wow! moment on the way. My brother and I packaged that bit of information into every possibility there is when you are 4 and 6 and forced to wear an itchy flannel jumpsuit and wait for it.

That’s why, you never put it all in your ad. Don’t tell them what’s coming. Don’t make it a bribe. Promise them a possibility and you either make them feel cheap if they want it, unsuccessfully bribed if they don’t, or expecting an experience beyond what you mean.

Absolutely have a Wow! planned and ready to go. A surprise that will make them pause, go home, and tell their friends, neighbors, and spouse what you and your oh-so-friendly and knowledgeable staff did!

“You’ll never guess what happened at that new restaurant- the line was crazy but they served wine while we waited! For free!”

“It was a year ago we bought our TV and can you believe it? The sales guy sent me an email to make sure all was well because our extended warranty ends next month!”

“I went to the new flower shop. I was just looking and they asked me about my birthday and gave me a packet of seeds to plant on my birth month! I didn’t even know that was a thing. There were instructions on how to plant them and an email if we had any questions.”

An ad saying “Stop in for a free packet of seeds.” says nothing and sounds cheap. The unexpected experience, however, is an invitation to every person they tell.

Promise a “Wow!”, and it won’t be enough. Knock their socks off with something they never expected and they’ll join your team and wave your flag.

Don’t break the rule – your Wizard Partner will help you craft the invitation so they come. Separately, they help you uncover your Wow so they never go anywhere else. Onward to world domination. No surprise.