Over the years, I’ve heard numerous small business owners recite horror stories regarding ad campaigns that flopped.  In many cases, they would place the blame squarely on the medium itself – cable, billboards, mailers, and so on. They would tell me that radio advertising, for instance, was either flawed or simply not the best way to deliver their particular message.  While some ad delivery choices may accommodate certain marketing plans better, I believe the majority of failures are a function of neglecting key marketing principles.

 So before you declare a particular delivery method a dud, look to see if you have any of the five campaign killers lurking around:

Inconsistency
There is no bigger saboteur to your campaign than inconsistency.  If you have an on-again and off-again relationship with marketing, you will slowly eat away at your ad budget and wind up with little to no return on investment. When you’re inconsistent with your communication, you deprive your business of building any real momentum.  It’s like being in stop-and-go traffic— you waste more energy overcoming inertia.  So commit to keep moving – even if it’s at a snail’s pace.

Content Overload
If you randomly opened a dictionary and closed it shortly thereafter, would you be able to remember every word on the page?  For most of us, the answer would be no. Apply the same logic to your ads. If you were to cram a ton of info into your marketing, can you realistically expect your audience to retain anything of value? Your ads will work effortlessly if people can remember them.  So keep your selling points to a minimum.

Identity Crisis
A recent client of ours contracted us to work on their radio campaign while another group was developing their TV commercials. To make things worse, yet another group was tasked with their web development.  Each group appeared to produce great material for this small business, however in the larger scope of things, this business does not have a cohesive strategy. Its personality changes with each medium. In the end, this will only serve to undermine the strength and focus of the brand. Don’t make this mistake. Be sure that your message is consistent across all platforms.

A Failure to Negotiate
When purchasing or placing your ads, negotiate. Never assume that prices are fixed (even if you’re presented with a written price sheet) Always ask for a better deal. If met with resistance, pull back a bit. Most reps are willing to be flexible. In many cases you’ll find that the savings you negotiate can provide for more ad placements – increasing the odds that you will succeed.

Nebulous Deals
Be sure that your offers can be quantified.  For instance things like 20% off, $100 dollar rebate and buy-one-get-one-free, provide the consumer with a clear picture of what they’re getting.  When you resort to language like, “super savings,” “deal of the century,” and “everything must go,” you fail to substantiate why someone should take decisive action upon hearing or seeing your piece.

Walter Dailey is a proven creative strategist. He’s the lead consultant and executive producer for Dailey Sound Vector, a creative services organization that specializes in jingles, radio ads and marketing campaign development for small and mid-sized businesses.  Ask Walter your questions at walter@dsvmedia.com

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