Sign at carwash saying "Make Mom Happy and Wash the Car"

Low-Tech Advertising Works!

This morning I was driving along, minding my own business, when I encountered a dozen or more enthusiastic young people waving home-made signs for their car wash. My car was due for a wash, and I do like to support folks who are willing to get out there and work for a cause, so they had my attention.

Then I spotted the sign: The one that said Make Mom Happy and Wash the Car

That was completely unfair – but effective. 🙂  In fact, far more effective than a hand-scrawled sign has any right to be. If your neighborhood is anything like mine, you’ve passed hand-written signs guaranteeing to refinance your home, offering a lucrative work-from-home job, or perhaps something else that might sound a little too good to be true. I don’t pay them any attention; do you? Their rough nature doesn’t instill confidence that the people who created the signs are really in the business of high finance or sophisticated marketing.

Why was this sign different? For starters, the people who made the signs were right there, waving them. They were also doing the work (washing cars) right there on the corner, so I could see that actual work was being done – and was being done well.

They also had a great outbound marketing hook: A tie-in with Mother’s Day.

One more thing they did right: They thanked me. In fact, they thanked me when I pulled-in, thanked me while they were washing my car, and then thanked me with a sign as I departed. With some establishments not even bothering so much as a verbal thank you, I found this incredibly refreshing and gratifying.

Thank You and God Bless
Never Underestimate the Power of “Thank You”

My car is cleaner, my wallet is lighter, and their friends get to go on a trip overseas. I think everyone is happy with the transaction. That’s Win-Win!

What was the last time you felt this good about a purchase?


15 thoughts on “Low-Tech Advertising Works!”

  1. Excellent post. “What are you trying to accomplish?” is always the way to start, and I am getting better at remembering that, Steve. This one made me feel good all the way just reading it. Great marketers!.

    1. It looks like you hit a point I missed Scott – one so obvious I didn’t think to include: If something makes you feel good you’re more likely to respond!

  2. Hi Steve, that’s a really great story.

    It underlines the importance of relevant, emotionally-based marketing and heart-felt customer service. Even large businesses get this so wrong so many times, that it is refreshing to see it around the street corner!


    1. Maybe it all comes down to the simple stuff, as Scott mentioned above. Stuff that makes you feel good is more likely to make you a repeat customer.

  3. Great Post Steve! I like to stop into the Car Wash ones too as they are usually a charity initiative. As for the last thing I bought because of a street sign…afraid to admit that it was a pizza, lol. Glad to see the posts starting to flow!

  4. You mean they didn’t use QR codes, Analytics, or Pinterest boards, and STILL got business? Amazing! 😉

    But seriously, in this case that all would have been “neat” but not with the same impact. Although, “Make Mom Happy” is a good example of keyword optimization.

    Cool post!

    1. However did they manage to market anything before we had social media? Funny to think about “keyword optimization” as an early form of search engine optimization (SEO). Thanks for the observations Richard!

  5. Darn, I wish they were in my neighborhood! This is a great example of GOOD customer service! Mostly a thing of the past. You felt good, they felt good, you got more than your money’s worth. WHY CAN’T cell phone companies learn this simple lesson!!!????

    1. Thanks Bruce – and ain’t it the truth!
      Too many companies we have to do business with and not enough we want to do business with. It really does come down to customer service at least as much as the product.

  6. It’s me Audaciouslady. I really like this post. 1. Great customer service always wins out in anything
    2. Love the way they kept it simple. Also important for a win/win situation.
    3. I can’t remember the last time I felt appreciated when purchasing something.
    4. I had a friend selling puppies along the side of the road. I advised him get colorful balloons to stand out from the other people who were selling stuff too. He did. It worked. Cheap and effective
    I like this simple case and look forward to more of your posts.

    1. Thanks Natasha. I appreciate the comments and agree on all points.
      Great example about the puppies: If it works for selling cars, how could it not work for selling puppies?

  7. It does work. Take balloon advertising for instance. I have seen businesses first-hand make tremendous gains in both foot traffic and revenue by simply employing this tactic. Simple works!

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