On Thick Skin.

On Thick Skin.

In my work with clients abroad, I get to learn about all sorts of fun advertising regulations and standards. Because a full 20% of our client base is outside the U.S., I’ve been forced to learn quickly. In the United Kingdom, for example, they have the Advertising Standards Authority. It does nothing more than issue strongly-worded letters and seeing as how the British are so polite, even their strongly worded letters are quite nice, relatively speaking. Routinely, I have doctors telling me that I’m ruining the profession of orthodontics and that they find me repugnant. The British would never be so harsh. 

In an annual report, the UK’s ASA listed 755 complaints from consumers about a Kentucky Fried Chicken ad which features a chicken dancing to DMX’s “X Gon’ Give It To Ya.” It was the most complained about ad of 2017. Consumers said it was “disrespectful to chickens and distressing for vegetarians, vegans and children.” This isn’t KFC’s first time to be labeled by the ASA as a troublemaker. In 2005, the company had an ad where people were eating with their mouths open. Consumers in the U.K. complained that this could cause children to adopt bad manners. Wow! I love the British. 

Which brings me to my point: If KFC can’t make all consumers happy with dancing chickens and Disney can’t make all consumers happy with a mouse, how in the world do you expect to do any advertising at all without making someone upset? Each and every time we launch a direct mail campaign, we get a complaint. When my radio ads blast through the airwaves of the entire city, I can almost hear the collective eye rolling of every other dentist and orthodontist. Write this down: if you want to take your marketing seriously, you must be tough minded about all of this. You must grow thick skin. 

It’s always been funny to me that small business owners will pull their punches and throttle great marketing because someone complained or a colleague or peer labeled them as “tacky.” Those are the only people in my town that are never going to buy from me anyways, but I should make my decisions based on those two groups of people? Fascinating

If you could see the stack of hate mail I get from orthodontists who are offended that I have huge ambition and actually take action to see it through, you would be shocked. If I let it impact what I do here and how I’ve helped more orthodontists live up to their God-given potential, you probably wouldn’t know who I am. Think about that for a minute. No one came to my door, begging me to unleash my marketing on the world and teach other orthodontists how to build better practices. I made that decision all on my own. Many orthodontists probably wish I had never shared my marketing with a competitor down the street. They wish me into oblivion. And yet, here we are, with over 3,000 members in 35 countries around the globe. 

Right before the pandemic and resulting shutdowns, I spoke to over 1,200 small business owners in Italy. They are some of the most enthusiastic and passionate business owners I’ve ever met. They have thick skin about all of this. They think it’s laughable that someone is offended by a dancing chicken. Do you? 

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Worked at Burleson Orthodontics. Attended University of Missouri–Kansas City. Lives in Kansas City, Missouri.