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Why advertising fails - it's driven by ego not bean counters!

Posted by Dale Berkebile on Tue, Feb 07, 2012

Why do most people go broke for advertising? Find out!

20 years ago I was in school learning how to create advertising. Over the last 18 years I have created a ton of different kinds of advertising for all kinds of clients… industrial ads, b2b ads, b2c ads, you name it and I have pretty much done it. As I look back over the last decade I have to chuckle. Several prospects have come to me excited about their product or company and wanting to get out there and tell the world about it.

One thing I know is that business success does not happen overnight just because you have a great product or service. One full-page, full-color ad is not going to make you rich. I have seen many companies bet the farm on that one ad though. As a matter of fact, I have worked with two client just last year that asked me to help them with ads they have decided to move forward on. Neither really gave me time to have a conversation to discuss the pros and cons of advertising before they paid the publisher and committed to the ads. So what can you do? I created great ads for them. They stood out from their competitors, they made offers and drove traffic to a specific website landing page to track visits and conversions. Heck we even included coupons in the download to continue pushing people through the sales funnel.

Although these are great ads with solid strategies, they failed. The client get's frustrated and thinks it is our fault that the ads didn't perform well. In reality, the reason the ads failed was less about the ad and more about how the ad was run. In both cases the ads were run once. The target audience probably saw each of these ads once. Now think about it when was the last time you purchased anything the first time you saw an ad? People see 3000 ads a day, what makes you think your ad will stand out? Heck I created the ads and knew they were doomed without a way to continually hit the target audience 13 to 15 times minimum to break through the clutter in the target's mind.

So how do you make advertising work? Start by asking the CFO or your accountant if you have the money to run a single ad. Here is how to word the question… "Do we have $xxx (fill in the price of the ad here) to throw out with no worries of getting it back?". If they say… "Yes we have a little cash set aside to burn, let's do it", then jump on that ad and get your ego stroking.

If however they say "What do you mean you want to throw $xxx away with no returns?", then chances are you do not have that kind of money sitting in the petty cash box.

So your next question is probably, if advertising doesn't work, why do so many people do it? Because of their ego, because the sales reps is selling them a pipe dream that strokes their ego. This weekend I watched some good ads on the Super Bowl, but I also watched a lot of pipe dreams go up in flames. Bye-bye $3.5 million, it was nice knowing you. Boy that one ad looked great… stroke, stroke.

Honestly, I am not saying advertising doesn't work, but what I am saying is most of the people reading this blog can't afford to get into the game. Advertising takes time and commitment. It doesn't create overnight successes. In order for advertising to work you need to spend, spend, spend and then spend some more. I am not telling you this to make me rich by doing tons of ads for you, I am telling you because I have seen in firsthand (both Brandwise's personal advertising campaigns and the ones we did for clients).

When you get pricing for your next ad, multiply that number by 15. If you can afford that then and only then can you start talking about advertising. I personally would never run another ad for Brandwise unless I had the budget to keep things going forever. That's right it has to be part of the cost of doing business and we have a line item for advertising and just pay it every month and run the ads daily, weekly, monthly (depending upon the circulation/venue). Then over time I would get big results because I have been running these ads for 10, 20, 50 years. Obviously, I do not have the budget for this yet and this is why you do not see any Brandwise advertising, our bean counter slapped the ego right out of me. Of course early on I did spend a lot on advertising, when my ego was big and the bean counter small. Now I understand the importance of cash in a business. So if you were thinking of doing advertising, but are second guessing it now can I ask a question? Were you just looking to stroke your ego or were you looking to generate more business and get rich? Had you ever tried sales?

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Tags: Advertising

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