Do you make these mistakes in advertising?

By John Kuraoka

“Everyone makes mistakes.” Yes, but the fact remains that victory – in sport, in war, in sales, or in market share – generally goes to those who make the fewest mistakes. Here are six of the most-common mistakes in advertising.

1. Failing to advertise. Do this, and you walk away from a vast amount of potential sales, squandering your existing business. Advertising is the engine of growth-oriented commerce – start it up.

2. Failing to spend enough money.

To be effective, your advertising must achievecritical mass. Halfway there, or even nine-tenths of the way there, is nowhere near and money wasted. I have known cases where a 50% larger newspaper ad, which cost only 20% more money to run, drew 800% more responses than the smaller ad. Every ad budget is limited, whether it’s $100 or $100 million. Spend yours where its weight will make a difference.

3. Failing to craft your message.

If you’ve put your money on the wrong horse, doubling your investment will only double your loss. The same is true of your advertising message. Yet, here is a case where one well-crafted ad can do the work of ten mediocre ones, both in readership and in results. A quarter-page newspaper ad I wrote brought more than half a million dollars in new deposits for a small Midwestern financial institution.

4. Testing media with one or two insertions. Yes, you should test selected new media. However, a valid test is one that gives that medium a chance to succeed. That means an insertion schedule equaling that of your other media buys. If your budget lacks enough to do a valid test, don’t test at all and put the money into proven efforts.

5. Viewing branding as a goal instead of a milestone. Capturing hearts and minds are measurable milestones, but your real goal is capturing profitable market share. For more about Brand Management As It Should Be, see Brands and branding: a white paper.

6. Following blindly marketing advice you find online or in books. Generic advice, while often valid, can only get you so far. At some point, you have to engage your brain (or the brain of a professional advertising or marketing person) and consider your specific situation, product, customer, and need.

Many a business falters because of one or more of these mistakes in advertising. Likewise, many an outwardly successful company fails to realize its full potential.

These are six common mistakes – but, being common they often combine or, even more insidious, masquerade as intelligent policy. If you decide a review of your current advertising is in order, I will be happy to cast an impartial, experienced eye over your ads, and tell you in what ways I can help improve your ads and your results.

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