Advertising is an essential part of all successful businesses. That’s because it works when placed properly. If not placed properly, it can be a big waste of time and money with a negative impact to your bottom line.

So, let’s avoid avoidable mistakes. Here are the top five:

1. Not properly targeting the market. “Anyone” can buy or place advertising. However, it is essential to properly target your audience and reach them with the right media and message. Media usage and habits for a 43 year old man is different than a 24 year old. This requires extensive quantitative and qualitative research, knowledge in audience measurement, an understanding of how each medium prices inventory. You must also have the ability to negotiate rating points, cost per column inch, etc. while holding media vendors accountable by reconciling and auditing proof-of-performance invoices. Otherwise, you could be advertising in the “wrong place” while paying too much for a media that you shouldn’t be in to begin with. Researching, composing, strategically placing, tracking, reconciling and auditing media campaigns is not a part-time job. You need to have someone fully dedicated to it and working on it daily.

2. Not having a large enough budget. One of the great things today is that there are many ways to advertise inexpensively. Pay-per-click and targeted digital ads are a perfect example. Regardless of the media used always follow this rule: Consistency is the key, consistency is the key, and consistency is the key.  Your budget should be invested in the actual placement of advertising. While it is crucial to have GREAT creative, don’t overpay for it. I’ve witness way too many businesses hire an ad agency and then cough up 25-30% of their ad budget in producing commercials. Don’t get me wrong, a well-produced ad is just as important as the strategic placement, but there are sources to produced ads inexpensively without compromising quality or effectiveness.

3. Having a bad headline. Make your headline pop. This is, of course, the first thing that people read, hear, or see.  So, you have to come up with an initial pitch (the “headline”) that is catchy and clever, and makes people want to know more. That’s its job. Just think – “The Lazy Man’s Guide to Riches” would have a lot more pull than “The Expert’s Guide to Direct Marketing Success.”

4. Creating a bad ad. Once your headline pulls them in, your ad must create some sort of desire on their part; a desire that your business can fulfill. That is why “Sale!” is so effective in advertising; people have the desire to save money. Or eat organic peaches. Or go to Hawaii. A good ad will make people seek out your business, product or service. A good ad does NOT state 10% off or full-service. (Full service as opposed to what?) Those types of one-liners waste airtime or space in your ad as it will not motivate action. Price points certainly can create a call-to-action, but 10% off will not.

5. Having no compelling call to action. A great ad makes people do something. That comes from the “Call to Action.” A call to action can be found almost anywhere in the ad, be it the headline or in the last line. Whatever the case, the point is the same: It makes people take action. For example, a call to action might be:
• “Quantities are limited.”
• “Sale ends Sunday.”
• “Stop in today for a free ____”

I think the best way to remember what a good ad looks like is to remember “AIDA”: Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. First you grab their Attention, then you get them Interested in what you are selling and get them to Desire it. Finally, you have a Call to Action.

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