5 Advertising Mistakes Most Small Businesses Make

Effective advertising is an investment in your business. Ineffective advertising is a liability and a waste of money. Here are the top 5 things to avoid making sure you advertise effectively.

1. Don’t advertise at all

If you are in business and you don’t do some kind of advertising you are not doing business. The only excuse for not advertising is that you have more business than you can handle and then you should expand, raise yoru prices, and advertise more.

This is not to say that you should buy advertising that you cannot afford. If you’re strapped for cash, look for low cost advertising options like co-op advertising, buying remnant newspaper space, flyers, direct mail, or negotiate for trade.

If you are reading this then I am assuming that Coke and Nike are slightly larger companies than yours. These companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year in advertising. Why? Well, how long do you think they would keep brand dominance if they stopped advertising today? Pepsi and New Balance would take over in a matter of days or weeks.

If things are slow – that’s a ridiculous reason not to advertise. How do you expect them to pick up – magic? Studies show companies that advertise through economic downturns out perform their competitors during the downturn. When the economy picks up they boom.

There are too many cost effective ways to advertise for you not to be building your business.

2. Put all your eggs in one basket

One ad in one place does not make an effective campaign. A good advertising strategy includes a good mix of methods. Studies show that ideally you should be reaching your customers 4 or more ways.

Combining radio or TV advertising with print will increase the ROI of both. Multiple exposures to your message has a synergistic effect. Don’t blow the budget on a tv or radio campaign and forget other channels.

3. Don’t target your advertising

If you are selling a product or service targeted to people that earn in the top 2% income and you advertise in a mass market medium like the newspaper you are wasting 98% of your advertising dollars.

Who are your customers and where are they likely to see your message?

I saw a great example of targeting recently. An upscale steakhouse advertised in a golf magazine. Golf is a fairly expensive hobby, and many who golf for business networking also do business lunches and dinners in upscale restaurants.

4. Run a cute or gimmicky ad

Ads that are cute and gimmicky may win advertising awards (and frequently do) but they do not sell unless they are designed to sell.

I know you have some wonderfully creative idea for an existentialist ad that violates the advertising principles that billions of dollars and hundreds of years of research have proven effective. Good luck! Creativity is great, but ground it with good marketing principles.

5. Advertise inconsistently

OK you ran your 2 column inch display ad in the back of the local newspaper once and you didn’t get the 50,000 new customers you want. So, you pull the ad, change your whole message and put it somewhere else. No dice.

Testing response is ok, and it’s a good idea to test campaigns. However, advertising takes time to work. Did you know that the average person who responds to an infomercial has seen that infomercial 7 times? Print advertising builds to a level of maximum effect after 4-6 months. Even direct mail takes multiple hits to be effective.

Consistency and repetition are cornerstones of effective advertising.

10 Ways Online Marketing Is Different From Offline and How Direct Marketing Overcomes Advertising

10 ways online marketing is different from offline:

The challenges of 24/7

The website is always open for trade or information

Marketing in real time

The website deals with customers in real time, raising expectations of instant query resolution, immediate response to requests and fast delivery


The website can be based on a complex variety of data sources; click stream, personal data, previous purchases, previous views, abandoned carts

Data volumes and integration

Websites can collect high volumes of data and different types compared to other streams

Many-to-many communications

The internet is open, subject to viral marketing and communication through digital devices, can work in favour or against

Comparison shopping

The power has shifted to the buyer who can compare and review similar products instantly

Global reach

Boundaries of markets have been torn down allowing for international connectivity

Keeping in touch

Email can be time sensitive, i.e. business address, easy to measure response

Low transaction costs

A website is more like a shop than a catalogue

It needs promotion and activity to draw customers in

What Digital Direct Marketing Media is there available?

The Internet:




Viral marketing


Bulletin boards


Live webcams

Internet cafes



Interactive TV:



Terrestrial TV

Digital Radio

Mobile Devices:

Wireless application protocol (WAP)



Streaming video


How standard Advertising used media:

Marketing simply meant advertising (and branding).

Advertising needed to appeal to the masses.

Advertising relied on interrupting people to get them to pay attention to a message.

Advertising was one-way: company-to-consumer.

Advertising was exclusively about selling products.

Advertising was based on campaigns that had a limited life.

Creativity was deemed the most important component to advertising.

It was more important for the ad agency to win advertising awards than for the client to win new customers.

Advertising and PR were separate disciplines run by different people with separate goals, strategies, and measurement criteria.

How Direct Marketing solves it:

DM focuses on the customer, their individual needs and the organisations ability to satisfy them.

DM recognises the customer are the major asset

DM has its own means of measuring and predicting customer behaviour, based on customer data

DM reduces the need for intermediaries

DM places need if not more need on retaining customers than acquiring

DM communications provide the missing information allowing customers real choice

DM makes use of individual data to satisfy the needs of the individual

Selecting the Top Advertising Agency for Your Business Depends on the Metrics You Measure

Many advertisers are looking for the top advertising agency for their brand. But what constitutes a top advertising agency? And how do you go about identifying and selecting the best advertising agency for the brand or organization?

The most obvious answer is that the top agency is the one that enjoys the highest profile in the industry. But what does this mean? Is it the one that wins the most advertising awards? Or the one with the most effectiveness awards? Or the one winning the most business?

The answer is that the best advertising agency for any advertiser depends on what criteria you chose. And the choice of criteria depends on the strategic requirements the brand or organization has of the agency.

This seems obvious, but it is a consideration that is often overlooked in the rush often observed in the process of selecting the advertising agency to act like a panacea to poorly performing advertising and marketing plans.

We have seen marketers select an agency based on industry reputation and profile alone. While this may appear like it is a good starting point, it often does not deliver the promised results because of a misalignment of the agency to the strategic needs of the advertiser.

The reason is obvious when you look at how the industry defines a top advertising agency compared to how you may define a top-performing agency against the strategic requirements.

When you look at how agencies build their reputations it is usually through the trade publications who report on the market place. The stories the trade-press report on are: business wins and losses, new campaign launches, creative awards, effectiveness awards and senior appointments.

Of these topics, the most insightful are the senior appointments as all of the other topics are usually dependent on the quality and depth of the relationship between the agency and the advertiser.

The big mistake some advertisers make is appointing an advertising agency with a reputation for creating outstanding work, only to be disappointed that their relationship with the same agency produces less than expected results. The reason is invariably because of the advertiser and the way they engage with that agency.

Rather than selecting agencies based on their reputation, it is more important to carefully define what attributes would be required by your brand or organization that would categorise advertising agency performance.

This is more than simply functional discriminators such as expertise, capabilities, client experience, size, resources and the like. It is also the more intangible discriminators like culture, trust, philosophy, attitude and chemistry.

Of course, the industry will continue to define the top advertising agency against the accepted criteria that make compelling reading in the trade publications. But it is more important that at best this is a starting point in the selection of an agency and not the only criteria in the selection of the right agency.