Causes of Advertising Failure
1. The desire for instant gratification
The ad which creates sufficient urgency to cause people to respond immediately is also the ad most
likely to be forgotten immediately following the "expiration" of the offer. Such ads are of little use in
establishing an identity for the advertiser in the mind of the consumer.
2. Attempting to reach more people than the budget will allow
For a "media mix" to be effective, each element in the mix must have sufficient repetition to
establish "retention" in the mind of the prospect. Too often, however, the result of a media mix is too much reach,
not enough frequency. Will you reach 100% of the people and convince them 10% of the way? Or will you reach 10% of
the people and convince them 100% of the way? The cost is the same.
3. Assuming the business owner knows best
The business owner is uniquely unqualified to see his company or his product objectively. He is 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. Too much product knowledge causes the business owner to answer questions that
no one is asking. This makes for extremely ineffective advertising.
4. Unsubstantiated claims such as, "Highest quality at the lowest price"
Advertisers will often claim to have what the customer wants, but fail to offer any evidence. A
cliché is nothing less than as unsubstantiated claim to the public is tired of hearing. You must prove what you say
in every ad. The prospect will not make a new decision about your product until you have given him new information
and a new perspective. Do your ads supply new information? Do they provide a new perspective? If not, prepare to be
disappointed with the results.
5. Improper use of passive media
Non-intrusive media, such as newspaper and yellow pages, require the use of a reticular activator
(such as a photo or illustration) because passive media tends to reach only those buyers who are actively in the
market for the product. Passive media is very poor at reaching prospects prior to their need, which means it is
extremely difficult for passive media to create a predisposition toward your company. With patience, the consistent
use of intrusive media (such as radio and television) will win the heart of the customer before he is in the market
for the 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 will each make a single point very powerfully. An
advertiser with seventeen different things to say should commit to a campaign of at least seventeen different ads,
with each ad being given sufficient repetition to accomplish retention in the mind of the prospect.
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 unreasonable focus on Thursday and Friday advertising with the statement,
"We need to reach the customer just before he goes shopping." Why do these advertisers choose to compete for the
prospect’s attention each Thursday and Friday when they can have a nice, quiet chat all alone with the prospect
each Sunday, Monday and Tuesday?
9. Overconfidence in qualitative targeting
The importance of qualitative data has been grossly overestimated by many advertisers and media
professionals. In reality, Saying The Wrong Thing has killed far more ad campaigns than Reaching The Wrong People.
It is amazing how many people become "the right people," when you are saying the right thing.
10. Event driven marketing
A special event should be judged only by it’s ability to help you more clearly define your market
position and substantiate your claims. If one percent of the people who hear your ad for a special event actually
choose to come, you will be in desperate need of a traffic cop and a bus to shuttle people from remote parking
lots. Yet your real investment will be in the 99% who did not come to the event! 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 Selling
Proposition. Unfortunately, most advertisers evaluate their ads by the comments they hear from the people around
them. The slickest, clearest, funniest, most creative and most different ads are the ones most likely to generate
these comments. See the problem? When we confuse "response" with "results" we create "attention getting ads" which
say absolutely nothing.
Compliments of Roy H. Williams Marketing - Austin, TX