Thursday, March 26, 2009

Why You Are Disappointed in Your Advertising

You spend too much money on advertising. That's a pretty broad statement, but I'll bet 99.99% of the business people in America would agree with it (with the exception, of course, of those in the advertising and media fields).

The fact is that very most companies are disappointed with the return on investment they're receiving from advertising. "The ads aren't working," "I can't afford to keep pouring money into advertising," and "Nobody even pays attention to my ads" are just some of the statements tossed across the corporate lunch table when the subject of advertising is raised. Why such dissatisfaction with a vital part of the marketing mix?

Here are seven reasons why your advertising might not be working as hard as it should.

1. Overly ambitious expectations.
Contrary to what the good folks on Madison Avenue (and other high rent districts across the country) would have you believe, advertising will not solve the problems of the world. Too many hopeful businesses put all their faith and hopes in advertising, while ignoring basic questions such as the quality of their products and services.

Advertising can help position a product and will go a long way toward creating a desired corporate image. But advertising is not alchemy, capable of turning pig iron into gold. Set your advertising objectives reasonably. Even Sir Edmund Hilary didn't expect to reach the summit of Everest on his first attempt.

2. Misdirected creativity.
There are two ways to go wrong here. In the first, the advertiser buys into the concept that “creativity sells” and accepts a wildly off—the—wall (and wildly expensive) ad that is sure to win an award for the art director, but will bomb with the ultimate judge—the consumer.

In the second case, the advertiser retains too much control over the ads content. You can tell one of these ads from a mile away—they contain a picture of the company's president and/or factory or a boastful headline of the advertiser's size/quality/years in business.

What neither of these ad styles even consider is the person who is reading, viewing or listening to their message. Its not what you want to say that matters, but what the customer wants to hear. In order to elicit the desired response, you must know your audience and their concerns. Push the right buttons and your advertising will cut through the clutter.

3. Unimaginative media selection.
Its all too easy to fall into a media rut. Running your ads on the same network—affiliate television stations, the same top—40 radio stations, the same daily newspapers and the same trade journals merely serves to “desensitize” your target audience to your message. Your advertising media plan must be as creative and on target as your ads.

Not selling cars through your ads in the classified section? Move your message to the editorial pages, or train station posters, or highway billboards. Depositors ignoring your bank's CD ads in the newspaper? Try a regional business magazine, cable television or spot radio. The whole idea is to use the media available to “attack” your target from as many angles as possible.

4. Underfinancing - Part A.
The biggest chunk of advertising expense is invariably the media. Advertisers spends thousands—even millions!—of dollars to buy space or time. Then they turn around and nickel and dime the production of the ad that will be running. If you're going to spend all that money to deliver a message, make sure the message is worth it. Budget enough for your print ad, television commercial or radio spot so that it stands out for its quality—not for poor typesetting, shabby artwork or out—of—focus photography.

5. Underfinancing - Part B.
On the other hand, the most creative, on target, professionally produced ad in the world is useless if nobody sees it. Make sure your media budget is healthy enough to make an impact. “I ran an ad once and it didn't work” is not an acceptable excuse. Buy media with enough reach, budget an ad size that will be noticed and plan for plenty of frequency.

6. Impatience.
Rome wasn't built in a day. Unless you're giving something valuable away free, don't expect customers to line up with cash in hand an hour after your television spot ran. Good advertising has a cumulative effect. (So does bad advertising, but that's a subject for another article.) Your customers might not be ready to buy today, or tomorrow for that matter. But if you keep your name in front of them consistently, you'll be in the game when they do decide to make a purchase.

7. No support.
Advertising cannot shoulder the marketing burden all by itself. It should be a part of a more complete marketing mix, encompassing complementary public relations, promotion and sales efforts. The reward will be a whole greater than the sum of its parts—a total marketing impact that will produce the results you're now expecting from advertising alone.

The money you spend on advertising in an investment. Make sure it is money well spent. Pay attention to the details, make the financial and mental commitment necessary to advertise effectively and give it a chance to work. You're sure to see results that will turn your disappointment into delight.

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