3 ways to make sure your advertising fails

Failure No one likes to think about and surely no one likes to actually accomplish it — failure.

And yet day in and day out some business owners and marketing directors make some common mistakes that almost guarantee it.

Let’s look at three easy to avoid errors when it comes to traditional advertising.

Trying to reach more people than your budget will allow:  For a media mix to be effective, each element in the mix must be substantial enough to establish retention.  Too often, people sacrifice repetition for the sake of reach.

Assuming the business owner knows best:  If anyone has a bias or a blind spot about a business – it’s the person who owns it.  You’re on the inside looking out.  You can’t possibly see yourselves as the consumers do.  Find perspective.  Talk to customers.  Do some research.  Ask an outside consultant.

Late week schedules:  Everyone buys ads that run on Thursdays and Fridays.  Which means you have to share the space/time.  Imagine having 1/3 the competition for your audience’s attention.  Sound good?  Then, consider buying early in the week.

5 comments on “3 ways to make sure your advertising fails

  1. Eamon says:

    Drew. Spot on.

    From my experience as an advertising account planner, the marketing idea must, first, be relevant to your audience. In order for it to be relevant, you have to do some research. You often don’t have to spend lots of money or time (well depends on the scenario) on good, basic research (qualitative research works well, although if you can get quantitative research as well, then even better). Doing an advertising campaign without any sort of good, basic research is like going into a lightless attic without a torch. Research is key.
    Secondly. Don’t just go for the first good idea. Do some creative thinking. Creative thinking involves brainstorming (without critical thinking at this stage). And then applying some analytical thinking to develop / cull ideas. Questioning whether good ideas really are that good – or could be improved – and whether ‘poor’ ideas have the seeds for great ideas. And so on.
    And thirdly, once you have your marketing idea, make sure that you are clear about it, and clear about it in communicating it to others working on the project, in particular, the creative team.
    And lastly, you need to write out a time plan for the research, creative-thinking and strategic-thinking stages of the campaign / marketing project. And be disciplined in keeping to that.

  2. Eamon says:

    There is loads more i could have said / would like to say to do justice to this important subject. Your marketing message (not the creative message / copy headline or copy in general) must engage your audience. This is part of the creative-thinking part stage of your campaign. There is too much to write here about this. But a good place to start reading about this, I think, is David Ogilvy (and, in particular, with his concept of the ‘big idea’ – but be careful, with digital advertising / new media, traditional creative advertising has moved on a bit, and ‘the big idea’ is not quite as key as it once was, but is still a key concept to understand.

    Sorry for writing a book, but I genuinely enjoy this subject and love rabbitting on about it .. (hope of some use / interest).

  3. Very true! I’ve seen these so much in my line of work. Many of my clients often don’t even know who they are really targetting. It’s like shooting a gun while blindfolded…

    Great post!

  4. Eamon,

    DO you think the big idea is dying? I wonder, with all the additional noise we have in our world, if the big idea is the only thing that rises above the din?

    One of our mantras is…you’ve got to push past the first ideas. They’re always the more expected and where most marketing people stop. If we really want to be remarkable, we have to go deeper.


  5. Terra,

    I think the vast majority of marketing is still the shotgun approach — let the pellets fly all over and hopefully we’ll hit something.

    That’s why we’re so big on branding. If nothing else, it helps attract the right fit clients and repel the wrong fit ones!


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