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7 Common Business Advertising Mistakes

You've probably heard the famous saying "I know that half of the money I spend on advertising is wasted: if only I could figure out which half it is!” Well, now you can. By eliminating the common mistakes many businesses make with their advertising programs, it's easy.

Here's a checklist of mistakes many companies make with their advertising:

1) Not focusing enough time and effort on their advertising

Most business owners spend far more time and effort on mundane things that don't really affect their bottom line than on advertising. This is the first huge mistake. Without effective advertising, almost all businesses will fail.

If you feel you don't have the time or desire to handle the advertising for your business, consider hiring a consultant or agency - but with caution. It's almost more difficult to find an ad agency that knows what is effective than it is to study it yourself. Many agencies are far more focused on winning awards than creating profits for their clients.

If you do feel you need to hire an agency, find one that will work on a results compensation basis vs. a straight commission for all the media they buy. This gives them an incentive to provide results and not pad the budget to justify a larger commission for the agency.

2) Relying on advice from friends and relatives

If business owners do handle their own advertising, many times they let their friends/wives/husbands or other various employees who have no idea whether or not advertising is effective make the decisions about their advertising plan.

Would you ask your dentist for advice about fixing your car engine? Of course not - that's not their expertise. So why in the world would you base something as important as decisions about your advertising on a relative who has no idea what he's talking about?

3) Being led by pushy or aggressive media sales people

The reason media companies pay their sales people big bucks is because they can influence you to buy space, air or time (in the newspaper, radio or television) and give you no guarantees if it doesn't work. Sounds kind of crazy, doesn't it? Your customers probably wouldn't buy from you and not expect the product or service to perform the way it should. But ad sales reps do it all the time.

Now sometimes they really mean well, and they have lots of experience and some fluke event or problem comes up. But for the most part, ad sales reps will do virtually anything they can do to get the sale.

If you feel like you're being bullied by an ad sales rep or that they really aren't looking out for your best interest, but really feel you want to work with that station/newspaper, etc., then ask for a new rep. They want your business and you're the one calling the shots, so if they want your business, they need to find someone you're comfortable working with.

4) Allowing your creative delivery to be ineffective

You can buy the best media schedule in the world that reaches 100% of your market 100 times, but if your message is not well created, it won't bring you the results you want. Most companies rely on either their ad agency or the media company themselves create the ads for them. This is a very difficult thing because most companies acting on your behalf don't take the time to learn about your business, your customers and what makes you different in your market.

To be effective, your commercial or ad must give the potential customer a compelling reason to buy your product or service. That means you have to come up with a better slogan than "we have the best service and we've been in business for 112 years."

No one really cares....well they do, but they don't believe you. If that's what you want to convey to your market, then give them a story that tells them that you have the best service. Make your company stand out.

You also have to include some sort of call to action. If you have a wonderful warm and fuzzy commercial that makes people 1) notice the ad, 2) actually read or watch it without being distracted by one of a million other things going on in their lives, and 3) become compelled and engaged by the message to have a positive feeling about your company and don't ask them to do something as a result of that - you're wasting your time and money. This is something that many ad agency creative types don't get.

If you don't ask them to do something specific within a certain time period, there's no way to measure the response. You may say that you can compare last year's sales for the same time period with this year's, etc., but that doesn't take into account a myriad of other possible reasons that your sales went up or down.

By giving your ad viewers/listeners/readers a specific action to take, you know that the reason they did that is because they were motivated to do so by your ad.

5) Always doing the same old thing because that's what you've always done.

If you're not growing, you're dying - and the same goes for your business. If you're happy with the same old returns on your advertising (assuming that you're measuring it in some way), then continue to do the same thing. Most business owners aren't though, so it's important to try new things.

The way society changes the way it uses media and as quickly as those changes happen, you need to keep up or lose out. Many business owners are afraid to try something new because it takes them out of their comfort zone - especially if no one in their industry has ever tried the new idea. This is a huge mistake and robs them of potentially huge profits.

6) Falling into the price trap.

This is another huge one! Unless you're Wal-Mart and can guarantee that no other business can sell for a lower price, don't use that as your main selling point. Once you start down that path, it's virtually impossible to stop.

If you can't come up with another reason for your potential customers to choose you instead of your competitor, you really need to find one (or more)!

7) Not using publicity or events in their advertising plan

It's amazing how few businesses even try to use publicity or special events in their advertising. It's often the best advertising you can get - not only because it's free, but because it cuts through the clutter. If the newspaper runs a story or a TV station is covering something during their newscast, it has automatic credibility that you just can't buy.

Of course you can't control the message 100%, but if you learn solid techniques of creating your publicity or press event, you can have a great deal of influence about how a story is covered.

If you can eliminate only 1 or 2 of these mistakes (assuming you're making them all), you'll wonder why you didn't do so earlier! In business, if there are enough of the right customers buying your products and services, many of your problems seem to disappear.

About the Author: Kevin is the publisher and editor of, a site that provides information and articles on how to succeed in your own home or small business.

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