5 Most Common Advertising Mistakes


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Have you ever heard the John Wanamaker quote “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”?

Over the years, we’ve done many media analyses for businesses who struggle with the same dilemma. They know that they need to advertise in order to gain market share and compete for customers as well as to sustain their business. What they often struggle with is solving the mystery of how to create an effective and efficient media strategy.

We’ve compiled a list of what we refer to as the top 5 advertising mistakes (not in any particular order)  that businesses make in regards to their advertising strategies.

Ritualistic Buying 

Like anything in life, you can’t do the same thing continually and expect a different outcome. That is very true with advertising. Just because a form of media or a particular station has always worked in the past does not guarantee that it will continue to deliver audiences or efficiencies. Audiences shift, demographic needs change, and new trends in consumer behavior trumps everything. Be sure to get the most up-to-date ratings from your media buyer or representative. 

Putting all of the advertising ‘eggs’ in one basket

This happens fairly often. Businesses think that it is better to spend a lot in one medium to increase their frequency. Frequency is good, but in order to be effective, you also need to reach the right amount of people. When you put the entire advertising budget into any one media outlet, you sacrifice reaching more people. And you just beat the same people over the head again and again to the point of becoming wallpaper or white noise.

Cutting their advertising budget to save money  

But the statement has truth in it. Although it is tempting to ‘save money’ in the short run, when your business is no longer on top of the consumers mind, what you are really doing is eliminating any potential future business when they are ready to make a buying decision.

In the advertising industry, several people also quote the following: “The man who stops advertising to save money is like the man who stops the clock to save time.” I’ve seen the quote credited to both Henry Ford and Thomas Jefferson, although I’m not convinced that either of them actually said it!

We have often found  we offer the most value to a business who needs to cut their advertising budget or doesn’t think they have enough money to add new media to their campaign.  By targeting the media mix to reach the right people the right amount of times, you don’t need to spend as much to be effective.  It’s all in the strategy.

Buying a media outlet because they like the outlet not because it reaches their audience.

Of course we like to hear our own commercials or see our ads in print, TV, out of home, etc. However, isn’t it more important to reach your potential customers who will buy your products or services?

Being afraid to say ‘no’. 

It’s not easy to say ‘no’. It doesn’t matter whether it’s to your child, to a volunteer group or even a media rep that has become your friend over the years.   Not many people relish having to turn someone down. In business, however, you need to keep strong. Not every media rep has your businesses best interest at heart.

A strong advertising strategy includes multiple media outlets that deliver the targeted audiences most likely to buy your products or services.   Your business doesn’t need to spend more money than you can afford to budget just to get results.  But it needs to be sure to spend it wisely!