Top 5 Advertising Mistakes To Avoid

Here are our Top 5 Advertising Mistakes to Avoid:

1. Not properly targeting the market. You have to know exactly whom you are trying to reach with your ads, and where you can reach them. Too many small businesses have a vague notion of who their customers are (age, income level, schooling, etc.) Without really knowing your customers, how can you ever expect to find the right media source with which to target them?

Are you customers affluent, or not? Young or old? Educated or uneducated? Online or offline? Knowing the answers to questions like these will help you pinpoint where what they listen to, watch, and read, and thereby know where to advertise.

2. Creating a bad ad. Sure, its great to have some funny ad, but if it either 1) doesn’t cause people to remember the name of your business, or 2) doesn’t compel them to buy your service or product now, then it is a bad ad. You want your ad to be memorable and persuasive, not funny but forgettable. A good ad will capture someone’s attention and get him or her to take some desired action.

3. Lack of consistency and repetition. When it comes to advertising, repetition is the key, repetition is the key, repetition is the key. What is the key? See? Running a consistent ad time after time builds brand awareness. Even if someone vaguely notices your ad for months, it still might be registering. When he later needs what you offer, the name of your business will be remembered – if repetition has been the key.

4. Bad headlines. “Donate that car or truck” the local ad reads. Big deal. Who cares? How many times have we seen that? If you want people to notice your ad, you better grab their attention, and quick. “Free vitamins for life!” or “The lazy man’s way to riches” or “Old car demands that it be donated to worthy cause” are the sorts of headlines that stand out.

5. No call to action. The best way to remember what makes for a good ad is something called the AIDA method: Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. First you grab their attention, then you get them interested in what you are selling. Next, you create a desire on their part for what you are selling, and finally, you offer a call to action.

Too may ads fail to give potential customers a reason to act now. That is why expiring coupons, sales that are ending, “quantities are limited”, or a free offer for calling now are so effective. They get the customer to act, and that’s the whole idea.


Steve Strauss

Steve Strauss is the senior small business columnist at USA TODAY, the Editor-in-Chief here at Small Business Connection, a speaker and spokesperson. He can be reached at

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