Worst of Signs, Pt. 3

Same Day Appointment Sign - Calumet City

I took a picture of the sign above at a dentist’s office in my Calumet City neighborhood. (That’s in Chicago’s south suburbs, if you’re curious.) What’s wrong with this sign? On the surface, nothing. But think about the wording “Same Day Appointments” for a moment. Is this dentist so efficient that he can guarantee to look at your teeth the same day that you call? Or is business so slow that there are always open slots in the schedule?

(To be fair, I’ve never visited this office, so I can only speculate about any specifics about the business and it’s success.)
Speaking of slots, The next sign is a doozy.
Slots Sign - Calumet City
This photo is from a bar, also in my neighborhood.

The bar changed the sign after about a week. Must not have worked as well as they thought…

Either that or the slots really do pay out too much and they started losing more money than they made in drinks…

In which case the lead generation method really was brilliant. The lifetime customer value was just too low or the owners were too short-sighted.

Like the dentist’s office, I’ve never been inside this bar, so I’m speculating again.

A few people told me I took the whole thing too seriously; the sign is probably just a joke. And maybe they’re right. (I could just walk down to the bar and ask the owner.)

But even so, marketers have to be careful; if customers feel misled, they’re not going to be happy.

That’s one of the reasons humor is risky in marketing.

What do you think?

Don’t miss these related posts (with pictures from my neighborhood!):

It Was the Best of Signs, It Was the Worst of Signs

Worst of Signs, Pt.2

Small Restaurant, Big Lesson

Pork Chops and Big Promises


Worst of Signs, Pt. 2

Here are a couple more instances of crummy signs in my south Chicago neighborhood.

Teeth Sign Chicago

This is a billboard for a dental practice just off the highway. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems terribly offensive, or at least insensitive. But it’s been in the same spot for several months, so maybe it’s working better than I think. Of course, since the sign isn’t keyed to produce trackable leads (in direct response fashion), it’s hard to know for sure, even for Dr. Atcha.

Pops Sign Lansing

If I have to point out what stinks about it, you need some help, too.

If I ever sign up for Pinterest, I’ll be sure to have a board dedicated to the good and bad advertisements I see around Chicago. There are plenty of both.

Did you see It Was the Best of Signs, It Was the Worst of Signs Pt. 1?


It Was the Best of Signs, It Was the Worst of Signs

dad highest rank

This billboard by the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse and the Ad Council is one of the best advertisements I’ve ever seen. It doesn’t qualify as direct response or direct marketing, but it is promotional.

More than that, it’s emotionally powerful. For proud dads like myself, for those who are saddened by the lack of father figures in our nation, and particularly for military families, these 7 words speak volumes.

It’s among the best of signs because it’s targeted, which makes it laser-guided towards specific emotional responses. The imagery aims right at the heart.

Does your advertising evoke the right emotions in your target audience?


I mentioned this sign in an interview I did last year as being one of the dumbest signs I’d ever seen. I went back to take a picture of it in the window of a shop in south suburban Chicago.

The handwriting is nice, but that’s about as far as the positives go. And if I’m not mistaken, that shop is no longer open.

This is among the worst of signs because it is wrongly focused. Businesses cannot walk up to would-be customers and say “Hey, give me some of your money.” Businesses only stay in business because they provide value to their customers.

The business exists for the customer, not the other way around.

The sign doesn’t offer any reason whatsoever for the reader to support the business. I could understand a sign that says “Support American Businesses.” That’s asking the customer to do something that is in the best interest of the economy of his country. That means it’s good for him in the long-term.

This particular sign comes much closer to panhandling than marketing. It’s just asking for support without promising anything unique or valuable in return. What reason does anyone have to support them?

Are you giving your audience reasons why they should do business with you in your advertising? Are you telling them what’s in it for them? If not, you’re completely missing the point.