If you’ve been in one of the 97,000 thousand cars a day hurtling along Sydney’s Parramatta Road in the past nine years, you’ve probably spotted the sign above.

It hangs outside Three of a Kind Furniture in Leichardt and it may surprise you that it wasn’t done by some clever clogs advertising agency, but by the owner of the business itself.

Karl is his name. He’s one of the butt ugly blokes. And, as I discovered, he’s got a thing or two to teach small businesses about advertising.

Find what inspires you

Karl is a bit of a fan of Aussie advertising legend, John Singleton.

Years ago, contemplating all those cars whizzing past his front door and wondering how to make them stop, he thought of something he’d heard Singo say.

That was that there are only three ways to sell anything: with humor, with sex, or by annoying the sh*t out of people.

A lot of advertisers would take issue with that as a gross oversimplification or just plain wrong, but Karl – it goes without saying – isn’t one of them.

Inspired by the legend, he chose humour, writing his signs in the self-deprecating style that lots of Aussies find funny.

Wisely, he also kept it simple.

Don’t make people work

“Anything, I’ve learnt about advertising, I learnt by myself, by watching people,” says Karl.

“People don’t want to work, they want everything on a silver platter. If you give them too much information, their eyes go blank, they just gloss over it.”

He also gave that first sign a ton of personality, something that Three of a Kind has always done with its furniture and that it’s done ever since in its advertising and marketing.

A poster in the workshop, for example, reads, “Boofheads with power tools.”

Copy on their website observes, “… the only other place in Australia you can watch stuff being made is in a sandwich shop.”

And their next sign, according to Karl, will say, “Just cause we’re nasty, doesn’t mean we’re cheap.”

What Karl and Three of a Kind have managed to do – possibly without realising it – is to create not just a bunch of clever individual marketing items, but a unified tone of voice for their brand.

Importantly, that voice isn’t a manufactured one either.

Be true

Viewing their advertising, you can almost hear Karl and the two other butt ugly blokes, Daniel and Geoff, bantering in the workshop.

It’s a true voice.  And consistently delivered.

On their website, they put the “butt ugly” line to work again, up there at the top on the front page. Their tone is peppered throughout the copy with observations like the sandwich shop reference.  And they don’t muck about with any unnecessary fluff.  It’s all about product and how to buy.

Customers recognise it and appreciate it, too.  Coming to the workshop after visiting the website, they say, feels very familiar.  That’s important.

Building value

Why?  Because as Karl looks from the rear rollerdoor of his workshop, he can see his neighbour across the way selling imported mass-produced furniture from Korea and China.

You could fill your house with that furniture, he observes, for the same cost as a single, bespoke piece from Three of a Kind.

Three of a Kind doesn’t only have to capture the attention of the passing traffic.  They need to justify a price premium.

Everything they do needs to continue to tell their unique story, to remind people what they are making is that rarest of things – something beautifully crafted, by hand, to order, for you, in Australia … by butt ugly blokes.

They’re doing a great job.

As you’ve hopefully discovered, they’re not only makers of handsome furniture, but self-taught marketers and advertisers whose talent is as unique as the voice they’ve created.

The lessons

Let’s recap the simple but important advertising lessons they have for other small businesses:

  • Understand who you’re talking to.
    (For Karl, it was people in cars)
  • Know what’s special about you.
    (Bespoke furniture handmade by Aussie craftsmen)
  • Say it in your own way.
    (Be true to yourself and your product. Three of a Kind chose self-deprecating humour, because that’s what they’re like)
  • Keep it simple.
    (People like things on silver platters)
  • Roll it out.
    (One thing is only one thing. But a unified tone of voice is a brand asset)

Tailored advice

As it is, I called Karl to ask him about his views on advertising.

I wondered though how things might have gone if the shoe had been on the other foot.  What might have happened if Karl had visited me online in my capacity as the creative and copywriting expert at RealTimeMinds.com?

Perhaps he would have asked me what he should do next.

“Stick with it,” I’d have said.

“If anything, give us more of the same. Maybe a few more of those tasty bits of copy on your website.  Not too many.  Nothing more.

“Unless, of course, you’ve got any more of those cracking headlines lying about. You could send those over to me.”

Stuart GhentAbout the author

Got a question about your advertising or marketing? Want some tailored input on how to make it read better, get more attention, work harder?

Catch Stuart Ghent online, live at Real Time Minds. Ask him anything. Your first ten minutes are free.

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