Advertising Mistakes: Ads to Avoid


Are you making mistakes in your advertising?

Advertising is a key weapon in your quest to win one more customer. But one of the first lessons you’ll learn when you begin advertising is that not all ads are created equal, and they can cause you harm if not used properly. What are the biggest advertising mistakes you can make when you are coming up with your approach? There are specific kinds of ads you want to avoid, because they won’t help your business, and will end up only costing you money.

What Are Institutional Ads?

When many businesses start advertising, they end up creating institutional ads. These are ads that are designed to tell the audience how great and wonderful you are. Their primary purpose is to just put your name out there where people can see it. How can you tell if an ad is institutional? The answer is simple: institutional ads are not trackable; there is no definable action you can use to measure the effectiveness of the ad. They can be funny, serious, cheap, or expensive – it’s any ad that just puts your name out there without a feedback channel. The problem with institutional ads is that they’re often a complete waste of your money.

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Why Are Institutional Ads a Mistake?

The problem with institutional ads is that they ignore the reality that advertisement is nothing more than salesmanship in print, in the mail, or on the air. Avoid them! The public doesn’t care how great you say you are or what you want. What people care about is whether you can offer them something that improves their lives, whether you can benefit the customer. An institutional ad ultimately says nothing about how you’ll help people who give you their business. They say nothing, make no case, and compel no action. And even if they do bring in customers, you have no way of quantifying their impact because there’s no specific, measurable action associated with the ad. In the long run, running institutional ads is a good way to make local media outlets rich without bringing any benefit to yourself. They’re a huge advertising mistake.

What Ads Should You Create Instead?

Instead of institutional ads, focus on creating ads that outline a tangible benefit of doing business with your company and direct-response ads. First, ads that tell the audience why and how you can help them are beneficial. If you have a lot of experience, if you have special qualifications, if you’ve received specific recognitions, let people know! That’s different from an institutional ad that simply puts your name out there without any real, specific information; it provides a very specific reason for people to come to you – in this case, your expertise.

Most importantly, your ads need to inspire direct and immediate response. Advertisements are expensive, and you need them to direct people to your business in a real, measurable way. The response can be a qualified inquiry, a phone call, a visit to your business, or an instant sale – these are all quantifiable actions that you can use to measure the effectiveness of your ads and see if they really are bringing you more customers. If it doesn’t bring you additional customers, the advertisement is a mistake.

Think about what kind of ads you run for your business, and make sure that they are measurable and doing more than just blindly tossing your name out into the marketplace. If you avoid these advertising mistakes, your advertising strategy will help drive customers to your business, rather than driving money out of your bank account.

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Chris Barnes

Chris Barnes

Chris Barnes is the Director of Business Development at Tarkenton Companies. Chris has an extensive sales and marketing background, including being part of the product launch for Propel Fitness Water for Gatorade, a promotions and marketing specialist for 94 WYSP in Philadelphia, and part of the Fran Tarkenton Show on SiriusXM. Chris is actively involved in the insurance marketing world, where he recruits for and works with Tarkenton Financial, a nation-wide group of financial agents.