Fido’s Dead 🐶😢

Fido is Dead

What All Advertising Gets Wrong

Think about a time when you had to deliver some uncomfortable news. Let’s say you had to tell your spouse that your beloved family dog passed away. How would you tell him? Fido was his best friend. You two adopted him as a puppy right after you got married. How could you possibly tell him that Fido is gone?

Get into THAT mind space. You would let him know upfront, with your tone, that something sad has happened. You would have him sit down and you would comfort him before telling him the news. You’d hold his hand and say something like, “Honey, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry to tell you this. When I came home, Fido was really sick. I rushed him to the Animal Hospital and… I’m so sorry, but, they had to put him down.” As he cries, you would hug him. You would comfort him and let him know that you’re just as sad as he is and that you’re there for him.


Seriously, why would you do it that way? Why would you be so comforting and caring? Why wouldn’t that conversation go like this:

He walks through the door and you say from another room, “Hey, Honey. Fido’s dead. Let’s buy a new dog RIGHT NOW! Oh, and I’m thinking Chicken for dinner.”

Ummm… because you actually care about him, DUH! You care about his feelings. You want him to be happy, however, you understand that this is an incredibly sad time for him. So, you change the way you deliver the message to guide him towards a better place of feeling and living. Which begs the most important question in Advertising:

Why don’t your Ads speak to potential clients or customers about your product or service this way?

Wouldn’t it make sense to empathetically match your messaging to your target audience? It doesn’t matter what you're selling. You could be selling a comfy clown nose for birthday party performers and if your messaging is: “Comfortable Clown Nose! BUY NOW! 15% OFF!” It might as well be: “Fido’s dead.” You’ll get some sales, but you’re dramatically undercutting the potential for higher sales AND long-term brand loyalty.

Seeing is NOT Believing: All Clicks, No Conversions

Ads that come from a BUY NOW! Position, ESPECIALLY TO COLD AUDIENCES, might earn you a lot of clicks, but think about human behavior. If you targeted people interested in flannel shirts and put an Ad in front of them that says: “50% OFF Flannel Shirts! BUY NOW!” — what are they going to do? They’re going to check it out, sure. After all, you’ve set them up to think that Seeing is BUYING… it’s not. They might look at the first featured flannel, not like the way it looks, and bail. What a waste...

What you REALLY want to do is set them up to believe WITHOUT seeing. You want them invested BEFORE they click. Who wears flannels? Why do they wear flannels? What are they looking for in a flannel (material, strength, comfort, etc.)? Unless you speak to them like someone who actually cares about them, understands them, and is empathetic towards them, good luck turning those clicks into conversions.

Empathy is Misunderstood

Why do so many people associate Empathy with sadness or pain? Empathy can be as simple as understanding and feeling how annoying itchy mosquito bumps are. Empathy can be feeling the same way about an awesome, comfortable pair of shoes. Empathy spans EVERY emotion.

You tell your husband about Fido in a sad, understanding, comforting way because you’re doing what’s best for HIM… NOT what’s best for your ROAS, Conversions, Sales, or whatever other metric you use to measure “success.” When you focus on what’s best for the INDIVIDUALS you’re targeting, those metrics will increase substantially by default.

Think about this quick example:

“Leaking Roof? Book a FREE Consultation NOW!” — What’s wrong with this messaging?

The first thing that jumps out to me is, if their roof’s already leaking, they’ve most likely already opened Google Maps, found the closest Roofer, and booked an immediate inspection.

“DON’T go with the closest Roofer! It’s Dangerous!” — Notice the difference?

You’re not just offering your services, you’re offering VALUE based on an understanding of human behavior. You’re acknowledging their plight and you’re putting your arm around their shoulder to tell them it’s ok, we’re here for you. You’re protecting them from the most common mistake people make when something like this happens, and, they’ll be grateful you did.

That’s the power of messaging from a point of empathy.

It’s subtle, but potent.


sean hughes

head copywriter