Your ad is visually appealing. You paid hundreds or thousands of dollars for it. It has been printed in magazines and newspapers or played on television and radio. You turn on your open sign the day of the Super Colossal Blowout Sale. That’s funny. No one is waiting in line for me to open. You wait optimistically. You close up shop 15 minutes early. It was business as usual today. Only one person mentioned your ad or brought in your coupon.

Has this been your experience? Would you like to get more from your advertising dollars? Failed ads have no clear objective to begin with or did not meet their objective. In most advertising success or failure is measured by return on investment (ROI) of an ad. Did your ad make money? What was the percentage or return?

Failure to Reach

Did anyone see or hear your ad? Most ad campaigns fail because they aren’t reaching your target audience.  Spend time studying your demographics and psychographics. Your ROI will automatically improve as soon as you start reaching your ideal market segment.

Predictable Ads

Your ad sounded just right. You followed the formulas. It looks like everyone else’s. That’s precisely the problem. Predictable ads do not pique the Broca’s area of the brain, which understands language. They fail to get attention because they’re polished, professional, cliché.

Your ad violated Orwell’s rule, “Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.” “We have the best service and selection” is the equivalent of “blah blah blah.”Clishe allows the reader or listener to passively follow along. It does not conjure up any new imagery. Your ad was background noise.

Ad Content

Ads fail because they are boring.  Get out the yellow pages and look up your business.  Look at your competition.  How many times do you see the same words and phrases throughout?  Your company needs to stand out.

Ads fail because they are all about you.  You know the old benefit-feature rule.  Why are you talking about yourself so much?  People want to know, “What’s in it for me?”

Ads fail when they are too content rich. (That’s hard for me to say, as a writer. But as a copywriter, I know less is more.) You cannot and should not cover every service or product you offer. Focus on one. Capture the attention, grow the interest, build a desire, and end with a clear call to action.

Emotionless Ads

Ads fail because they don’t affect emotion. To arouse desire that motivates purchase, you need to sell the emotional end result, not the product.  Harley doesn’t sell motorcycles.  They sell the excuse/opportunity for 43-year-old accountants to wear black leather and have people in small towns fear them.  Sell the attitude, sell the lifestyle.

Do not confuse this with entertainment. An ad that simply entertains without persuading will not yield a high ROI. The most successful ads deliver involvement and clarity.

Lack of Differentiation

Why should anyone come to you (rather than your competitor)? A unique selling position should answer that question. It must be relevant to your target audience, addressing their point of pain. Think about how you can help your clients.

Don’t be afraid to offend. No, I’m not saying your ad should be sexist, racist, or shocking. But it does need to get attention and compel action. Remember that of the customers who hate your ads, 98.9 percent of them will still come to you when they need your product. These customers don’t cost you money. They just complain to the cashier about your annoying ad while handing over their cash.

No Clear Call to Action

Ads fail if they have no clear call to action. You cannot assume your audience will know what you want them to do. Never overestimate their intelligence. Tell them what to do and cause them to imagine themselves doing it.

Ads fail when they have too many calls to action. Do you ask readers to go to the website, stop in, and call? Do you fill half your ad space with contact info?  This is especially detrimental with radio advertising. No one can remember all that! End with one clear singular call to action. If you even use a phone number on television or radio, make it easy to recall.

By:  Terra L. Fletcher, Fletcher Freelance

About the Author:

Terra L. Fletcher is a freelance writer living in Shawano, Wisconsin. In addition to writing articles for the web, mainstream publication, and industry journals, Fletcher provides business writing and marketing services. She owns Fletcher Freelance where she writes, edits, and provides marketing consultations. Fletcher enjoys speaking to trade and professional organizations on presenting a professional image, internet marketing, and Facebook for business. When she’s not writing, Fletcher loves to cook, spend time outdoors, and read.

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