The Best Ad Ever 2.0

Becky Morehouse

Becky Morehouse

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Some of you may know Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Stamats’ hometown, was hit by a derecho on August 10th. A derecho is basically an inland hurricane. We had sustained winds well above 120 MPH for 40 minutes.  

When the storm had passed, the entire city and surrounding areas were without electricity. Some had power restored in three days. Many waited a week or more. More than 6,000 homes were damaged. Roofs gone. Walls caved in. Siding striped away.  

It’s estimated more than 500,000 trees were toppled. The estimated loss is around $4 billion.  

I lost eight trees good-sized trees. Five trees were removed immediately. However, that left me with a big challenge: stumps.  

Thinking about my stumps reminded me of a blog I wrote a couple of years ago.  

It addressed what I believed to be the world’s greatest ad. Here’s a reprise. 

It was on a small, 24” by 18” plastic sign stuck in the dirt at the side of the road. It says, simply, Stump Grinding.   

There is much about this sign to like. The font is large and the dark letters against the white background make it easy to read. Therefore, I can make out the words at night, in the rain, fog, sleet, etc. 

No weird fonts, no flashy colors, no cheesy clipart that distracts from the message on the ad.  The sign declares, simply, what they do. They grind stumps. It then proffers the necessary contact information.  

That’s it.  The sign doesn’t say “Stump Grinding…and More.” The sign doesn’t tell me who is doing the stump grinding. 

I learn nothing about the trucks they drive or the equipment they use or when they were founded. I don’t even know their names.  

After reading their ad I knew I was never going to call them if I needed a deck replaced or a fence installed. They would not be my first choice for some concrete work or to have a door hung. I doubt if they do roofing.   

The singular focus of the sign was compelling. 

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Last fall I cut down a tree and I needed to have a stump removed. I was excited. 

I called the number on the ad. A woman answered, “Stump grinding.” The directness and certainty of her voice was intoxicating.  

I hired them to remove my stump. One guy showed up. Ford truck. Vermeer™ stump grinder. True Temper™ rake for the cleanup.  

It took him exactly 17 minutes. It cost me $90. 

The guy’s name was Floyd (really, I’m not making this up). After the stump was out, he asked if I needed help putting in a new tree.  

“But I thought you only did stumps,” I said.  

“Well,” he replied. “We actually do a few other things, but we like to keep the signs simple. People get confused when we tell them too much.”  

I wanted to take Floyd to lunch, I wanted to ask him if he read Ogilvy or Hopkins or Lindstrom. Lastly, I wanted to know what blogs he read and what conferences he attended.   

But somehow, looking at Floyd, I figured he didn’t bother with all that stuff. Floyd was a natural. He knew his business. He knew people. And moreover he knew how to connect the two. 


I called the number after this storm, but it said the mailbox was full and it could not accept messages.  

It seems that lots and lots of people needed to have some stumps ground. 

Want to hear more? Schedule a free consultation with Becky Morehouse today.

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