The Most Common Mistakes in Advertising: No 3 to 12

3. Assuming the Business Owner Knows Best

The business owner is uniquely unqualified to see his company or product objectively. Too much product knowledge leads him to answer questions no one is asking. He's on the inside looking out, trying to describe himself to a person on the outside looking in. It's hard to read the label when you're inside the bottle.

Sometimes it helps to bring in an objective outsider to give you some perspective.

4. Unsubstantiated Claims

Advertisers often claim to have what the customer wants, such as "highest quality at the lowest price," but fail to offer any evidence. An unsubstantiated claim is nothing more than a cliché the prospect is tired of hearing. You must prove what you say in every ad. Do your ads give the prospect new information? Do they provide a new perspective? If not, prepare to be disappointed with the results.

5. Improper Use of Passive Media

Nonintrusive media, such as newspapers and yellow pages, tend to reach only buyers who are looking for the product. They are poor at reaching prospects before their need arises, so they're not much use for creating a predisposition toward your company. The patient, consistent use of intrusive media, such as radio and TV, will win the hearts of relational customers long before they're in the market for your product.

6. Creating Ads Instead of Campaigns

It is foolish to believe a single ad can ever tell the entire story. The most effective, persuasive, and memorable ads are those most like a rhinoceros: They make a single point, powerfully. An advertiser with 17 different things to say should commit to a campaign of at least 17 different ads, repeating each ad enough to stick in the prospect's mind.

7. Obedience to Unwritten Rules

For some insane reason, advertisers want their ads to look and sound like ads. Why?

8. Late-Week Schedules

Advertisers justify their obsession with Thursday and Friday advertising by saying "We need to reach the customer just before she goes shopping." Why do these advertisers choose to compete for the customer's attention each Thursday and Friday when they could have a nice, quiet chat all alone with her on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday?

Memory is formed from images, but not of the images we have seen with our eyes. Memory is formed from the images we have seen in the imagination. For your ads to be effective, they must be recalled when the prospective customer has need of what you’ve advertised. Do you know how to make your ads memorable, or are you foolishly attempting to schedule your ads to the precise moment of the customer’s need?

Tell the customer WHY and wait for WHEN.
Quit trying to predict his moment of need.

9. Over-Targeting

It’s a myth that you only need to get your message to the decision-makers. In truth, decisions are seldom made in a vacuum.

Each of you has a realm of association of approximately 250 co-workers, friends and family ... people you play golf with … parents of children who play basketball or football with your kids ... you go to church with them ... you live in their neighborhood … you work with them ... or they’re your blood relatives.

Now, if I could only afford to reach 10 percent of your community, and I needed to reach you, but you weren’t part of the 10% I was reaching, I wouldn’t worry about that. Because I’ve still reached 25 of your best friends.
I’m not going to target more people than I can afford to own. I’m going to say something memorable ... I’m going to say something persuasive ... and pretty soon

Wizard of Ads does not ALLOW our clients to reach more than 50% of their market. We have a number of advertisers right now whose revenues and budgets have grown so that they could reach literally more than 50% of their market 3 times a week, 52 weeks a year, and no matter how much bigger the business gets we say, “Trust us. The half we’re reaching now already knows the other half.”

Many advertisers and media professionals grossly overestimate the importance of audience quality. In reality, saying the wrong thing has killed far more ad campaigns than reaching the wrong people. It's amazing how many people become "the right people" when you're saying the right thing.

The true secret of advertising success is to say the right thing to as many people as you can afford to reach over and over. Word-of-mouth advertising is the result of having impressed someone, anyone, deeply.

10. Event-Driven Marketing or Expiration-Dated Advertising

For each of our senses, the brain offers short-term and long-term memory. Short-term memory is electrical. Long-term memory is chemical.

The objective of "branding" is to cause your product to be the one the customer thinks of first and feels the best about when their moment of need arises. Consequently, branding must be accomplished in long-term memory. No problem, it's just a matter of repetition, right? Wrong. The brain, you see, is a very smart organ. It knows better than to transfer information into long-term memory when that information is flashing a "soon-to-expire" message in neon letters.
I'm referring to ads that make a limited-time offer. When an advertiser insists on trying to "whip people into action" with the urgency of a limited-time offer, they can be sure that their message will never make it into long-term memory. At best, the message will stay in short-term memory only until the expiration date has passed and then it will be forever erased from the brain.

Yes, limited-time offers, when they work, cause people to take action immediately. The downside is that limited-time offers don't work better and better as time goes by. In truth, they work worse and worse. When an advertiser makes a limited-time offer, the only thing that goes into long-term memory is, "this advertiser makes limited-time offers." In essence, the advertiser is training the customer to ask, "When does this go on sale?"

Consequently, you cannot use a series of limited-time offers as the foundation for a long-term branding campaign.

A special event should be judged only by its ability to help you more clearly define your market position and substantiate your claims. If 1 percent of the people who hear your ad for a special event choose to come, you will be in desperate need of a traffic cop and a bus to shuttle people from distant parking lots. Yet your real investment will be in the 99 percent who did not come! What did your ad say to them?

11. Great Production Without Great Copy

Too many ads today are creative without being persuasive. Slick, clever, funny, creative and different are poor substitutes for informative, believable, memorable and persuasive.

12. Confusing Response with Results

The goal of advertising is to create a clear awareness of your company and its unique strength. Unfortunately, most advertisers evaluate their ads by the comments they hear from the people around them. The slickest, cleverest, funniest, most creative and most distinctive ads are the ones most likely to generate these comments. See the problem? When we confuse response with results, we create attention-getting ads that say absolutely nothing.

Wizard of Ads partner clients measure the results of their advertising success by growth in sales volume, not by comments from friends.

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