- Don’t advertise at all
If you are in business and you don’t do some kind of advertising you are not doing business. The only excuse for not advertising is that you have more business than you can handle and then you should expand, raise your prices, and advertise more.
This is not to say that you should buy advertising that you cannot afford. If you're strapped for cash, look for low cost advertising options like co-op advertising, buying remnant newspaper space, flyers, direct mail, or negotiate for trade.
If you are reading this then I am assuming that Coke and Nike are slightly larger companies than yours. These companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year in advertising. Why? Well, how long do you think they would keep brand dominance if they stopped advertising today? Pepsi and New Balance would take over in a matter of days or weeks.
If things are slow – that’s a ridiculous reason not to advertise. How do you expect them to pick up – magic? Studies show companies that advertise through economic downturns out perform their competitors during the downturn. When the economy picks up they boom.
There are too many cost effective ways to advertise for you not to be building your business.
- Put all your eggs in one basket
One ad in one place does not make an effective campaign. A good advertising strategy includes a good mix of methods. Studies show that ideally you should be reaching your customers 4 or more ways.
Combining radio or TV advertising with print will increase the ROI of both. Multiple exposures to your message has a synergistic effect. Don’t blow the budget on a tv or radio campaign and forget other channels.
- Don’t target your advertising
If you are selling a product or service targeted to people that earn in the top 2% income and you advertise in a mass market medium like the newspaper you are wasting 98% of your advertising dollars.
Who are your customers and where are they likely to see your message?
I saw a great example of targeting recently. An upscale steakhouse advertised in a golf magazine. Golf is a fairly expensive hobby, and many who golf for business networking also do business lunches and dinners in upscale restaurants.
- Run a cute or gimmicky ad
Ads that are cute and gimmicky may win advertising awards (and frequently do) but they do not sell unless they are designed to sell.
I know you have some wonderfully creative idea for an existentialist ad that violates the advertising principles that billions of dollars and hundreds of years of research have proven effective. Good luck! Creativity is great, but ground it with good marketing principles.
- Advertise inconsistently
Ok you ran your 2 column inch display ad in the back of the local newspaper once and you didn’t get the 50,000 new customers you want. So, you pull the ad, change your whole message and put it somewhere else. No dice.
Testing response is ok, and it’s a good idea to test campaigns. However, advertising takes time to work. Did you know that the average person who responds to an infomercial has seen that infomercial 7 times? Print advertising builds to a level of maximum effect after 4-6 months. Even direct mail takes multiple hits to be effective.
Consistency and repetition are cornerstones of effective advertising.