Monday January 2, 2017
What are the most common mistakes made in advertising? Frequently, I find that the approach to marketing is typically less structured and more of a random smorgasbord of unrelated marketing attempts. One example of a marketing attempt might go something like this: You receive a phone call from a sales person offering you an ad in the local newspaper for 13 weeks. You are offered a special rate, so you decide to “give it a try”. After running the ad and getting a weaker response than you had hoped for, you decide that it did not work, so you discontinue your ad with the local newspaper. A month later, you get a voucher in the mail for $100 worth of free pay-per-click advertising with Google. You figure this is found money, and you are anxious to put it to work. After setting up your campaign and loading in 50 different keywords at $1 per click, you find that the entire $100 has been spent in just a few hours, and you have made no sales. This is an example of trying different marketing methods as they are presented to you. With no prior understanding or coaching in the most effective uses and best practices for these methods, and with no structured plan of attack, these efforts will likely fall short of your expectations. Therefore, it is important to approach marketing with a well structured plan that will take into consideration the following 8 common mistakes:
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Mistake #8: Lacking a Call to Action
“50% off really great shoes!” will be less effective than, “We have really great shoes. Call now and receive 50% off!”
Let’s be clear about what a call to action really is: A call to action is not simply making sure that your phone number and website appear on your advertisement; you must give clear instructions (typically with an expressed reward or limited-time offer to create a sense of urgency) that will motivate the viewer to take action. Why does this work? Consumers need to be given a very clear path to follow. Not only do you want to avoid confusing the consumer with too many options, you want to provide a clear message and a call to action.
Mistake #7: Narrowing Down Your Focus… to Everyone?
You must know who has a need for your product or service, so that you can aim your marketing efforts at the right people. You want to identify geographical locations as well as whether you are targeting businesses or consumers, more affluent or less, male or female, young or old. Ask yourself: Who can benefit from the service I provide? What types of clients do I currently have? Where can I find a room full of these people to whom I can market? So, don’t waste marketing dollars on advertising programs that target the wrong audience. Marketing is all about getting in front of the right prospects.
Mistake #6: “I will call them back later.”
One of the most mind boggling mistakes I have seen is related to poor follow through. If you run an advertisement with a phone number that goes to voice mail, do you really think a prospect will leave a message if they have never done business with you before? Some will leave a message, but many won’t. What about your website? If you are sending leads to your website to take some type of action, what is the page's bounce rate? If your bounce rate were 99%, it would make more sense to focus on improving your bounce rate, than it would to spend time and money trying to find more leads to send to a poorly performing landing page. If you consider that your response rate will typically be somewhere between 1% - 2%, and you spend $1,500, which may equate to 15 responses on a really good day, this means each response cost you $100! Every missed phone call or bounced website visitor could represent losing $100 directly from your bank account. Let’s also remember that the intent of marketing is much more than an effort to break even. You need to ask yourself: How much business would that lead have represented? $500? $1,000? Therefore, after picking up the phone, it is also important to deliver estimates and return calls within the time line that you promised on the initial call.
Mistake #5: Unrealistic Expectations
When was the last time you jumped up and did exactly what an ad told you to do? It usually takes a while for an ad to sink in. The average number of times a person needs to be exposed to your message is 7 times before they will take action. Just because your phone did not ring off the hook after the first run of an ad, does not mean that the ad failed.
Realistically then, your expectation should be for a few responses on the first run, and an increase in responses to each consecutive run.
Mistake #4: Feast-or-Famine Situations
I commonly see 2 budgeting strategies for marketing:
“If business slows, we will do some marketing – when we get busy, we will stop,”
“If we have extra money at the end of the month – we will throw that into marketing next
The first method is flawed because it creates a feast-or-famine scenario. Typically, when you have no business, you also have no cash flow, so it can be difficult to pay for additional marketing. When you are busy, and stop marketing, this is often the cause of a subsequent slow business trend. The second method has many of the same flaws. It can create alternating slow and fast periods in your business and make work flow more unpredictable. What should you do about this? A consistent approach based on a budget will allow you to more accurately predict work flow and can help you to grow at a steady pace.
Mistake #3: “Do you want to hear my entire life story?”
One of the most difficult impulses to control is the urge to tell the entire story all in one small ad. If you are properly segmenting your marketing efforts, you should be getting in front of a very targeted audience. Internet marketing makes it possible to laser-focus your efforts on a very specific demographic. The first step in this process is to accurately profile your ideal customer. If you know what they look like and where they shop, you will know what to say to them. If you know what to say, your campaign will be much more effective. If you have more to say, simply run another ad that highlights a second attribute – but be careful not to confuse your branding. Your aim, then, should be to have a consistent flow and feel from ad to ad. This would not be the time to change your logo or color scheme.
Mistake #2: Failing to Address Your Audience's Desires
When speaking to your audience, it is so important to address the audience’s desires. So often we want to speak to form and function because we know our product, as that is the data with which we deal on a daily basis. Don’t try to convince your prospects; connect with them. They’re depending on their gut more than you realize. It is important to remember that we are emotional creatures, and we primarily purchase based on emotion. How much junk food is sold based on a logical assessment of its nutritional value versus an impulse or a desire for something that tastes good? So, instead of marketing a mop by explaining all of its features and the fact that it absorbs more liquid than others – expecting that to close the sale – you should instead close the campaign with an emotional response like a picture of a woman smiling and relaxing with a refreshing beverage. This implies that the mop allowed her to get the job done quickly and effortlessly. Her obvious happiness and satisfaction are the emotions with which the viewer will identify.
Mistake #1: What Marketing Plan?
I would have to say that of all the possible marketing mistakes, not having a marketing plan is the worst one.
The process of creating a marketing plan itself is an eye-opening experience. This is where all your guesses and mental projections become clearly defined. This is also where fatal flaws in your concept can be discovered and prevented. Think of an airplane manufacturer designing a new airplane. The benefit of creating a scale model first and observing it in a wind tunnel is that you can discover flaws before going through the time and expense required to build the full scale airplane. How many of us can afford to create and run a business, only to discover fatal flaws while at full scale? It is so much more efficient to discover these flaws on paper, before you start designing your business cards. So, how can you create a marketing plan? I generally start my business plans with a spreadsheet that lists all of the COGS, labor, sales, rent, loans, and other projections for each month for a 3 to 5-year period. Yes, this takes time, but it is well worth it.