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Ten Common Advertising Mistakes That Waste Your Money

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Written by Frank Buddenbrock   

If you're like most advertisers, you are constantly on the hunt for the ideal vehicle that'll get your message in front of as many eyeballs as possible. Where can you get the most bang for your advertising buck? Where will you get your best ROI? A newspaper ad? Magazine ad? Brochure? Email? Direct mail? Banner ads? Billboards? TV and Radio ads? The internet?

Regardless of which vehicle that's chosen, typically, too many ads fail to answer your prospect's primary concern, "What's In It For Me?" And when your ads don't answer that question, your prospect will not respond, and there goes your money, usually lots of it.

Don't write another ad, brochure, email, flyer or direct mail piece until you correct the costly mistakes you're making. To be sure there are more than just ten mistakes, but here are ten of the most costly ones.

Mistake No. 1. Not Focusing On The Most Important Person In Any Sale- The Prospect
You'll see it over and over again: ads that are just a vehicle for the ego of the advertiser. They'll brag about their fancy brochure, their slick ad, or their clever direct mail piece, ignoring the most important person in any sale- the prospect.

Mistake No. 2. Your Marketing Materials Are Too "Me"- Oriented, not Prospect-Oriented
You spend too much time, and money, talking about you and your company, and not about what your company can do for your prospect. I continually see brochures and ads that drone on and on extolling the virtues of the company.When you write your marketing materials, put yourself in your prospect's shoes. He cares only about himself, and how your company's product or service is going to make his life better. Or how your product or service is going to take away some of his anxieties. Why should the prospect care if your warehouse is 30,000 square feet? Does that make your product more effective, ease his worries, or enhance his life?

Show the prospect the benefits he'll receive by buying your product or service.Use every device you can think of to get him to contact you. Show him that you care about him, his wants, his desires.When you consider that the typical prospect is plagued by more than 17,500 marketing messages per week, you'd think that advertisers would want to make every attempt to grab even the slimmest slice of time from their prospects, but you'll see it again and again. Too many ads that fail to answer the prospect's primary concern, "What's in it for me?"

Mistake No. 3. You Fail To Develop Any Kind Of Advertising Campaign
Do you hope to score big with a single promotion rather than a planned campaign? Maybe you haven't really thought it through, the reasons why a prospect may not buy your product or service after seeing your ad ONE time.What if they never saw it? Perhaps their magazine got lost in the mail, was incorrectly delivered, or didn't come this month. It does happen. What if your prospect was on vacation? Did your email blast end up in the spam folder?

Maybe money's a little tight this month and your prospect will just wait until next month when they see your ad a second time. Will there be a second time? Will you let the opportunity for a second chance slip away? Why would you give up after only one ad?Repetition breeds familiarity and credibility. If you contact your prospect only one time, or they see your message only once, how will they know if you're still around? Your prospect is anxious enough about making a wrong decision. You become a high-risk choice if they see your materials only one time.

Mistake No. 4. Your Headline Doesn't Grab Your Prospect
Too many headlines say nothing. Take a look at this headline for a full-page ad for a San Diego engineering firm- "San Diego Pride."Who does that appeal to? What does it mean? What's in it for me?Apparently the writer of this ad forgot that the headline is the most important element of any marketing material. Effective headlines identify the prospect and satisfy his self-interest. They arouse his curiosity, give him new information, or offer solutions to problems.Look at the headline for the engineering firm's ad again. Who does it identify? What self-interest does it satisfy? I'd guess this ad did very poorly. The worst thing is that they probably don't blame the ad or its headline for the poor result. They'll probably run the same ad again, but in a different publication.

Mistake No. 5. Your Headline Doesn't Offer Your Prospect A Benefit
Take a look at the headline for this article. I've identified my prospects (advertisers), and through implication offered a benefit (once they're aware of the mistakes they're making, they can fix them). That's what prospects want to see- benefits, benefits, and more benefits. If what you've written doesn't appeal to your prospect's self- interest, he'll just move on, completely forgetting you.

Mistake No. 6. You Try To Be Too Clever
Don't be too clever. Advertisers use puns, wordplay, and shock and awe. Some of the ads are a real stretch. Don't lose your prospect before you even get started. Be careful about using jargon in your ad copy. Good writing in plain, common English is still effective.

Mistake No. 7. Your Body Copy Doesn't Show The Prospect How He'll Benefit By Using Your Product of Service
Haven't you read ads all the way through to the end only to find yourself wondering, "Just what is this company offering that would make my life better?" When you write your marketing materials, get ready. This is YOUR opportunity to hammer home benefit after benefit. Say it again and again, differently each time. Certain words and words pictures will appeal to separate segments of your prospect pool in different ways.

Show your prospect all the ways he'll benefit by using your product or service. Or show him what he'll lose by NOT using your product or service. Fear and anxiety are powerful motivators. Freedom from worry is a great benefit for your prospect.

Mistake No. 8. You Fail To Make It Easy For Your Prospect To Get In Touch With You And To Buy
Not too long ago, the largest religious organization in Los Angeles solicited me requesting a donation. They sent out a very nice marketing piece. But search as I might, nowhere could I find a return address or phone number. Can you believe it? I thought I was somehow blind or something. I called up the office that produced the piece and when I spoke to the man who designed it, asking him if he was aware that there was no phone number or return address, there was a mortified ten-second silence on the other end of the line. Then a sour, curt "Thank You" before he hung up the phone.

Make it as easy as possible for your prospects to buy what you're offering. Include an 800 number. Include your website address. Give them an email address. Allow credit card orders, both online and over the phone. Offer billing and financing terms. Don't make the mistake mentioned earlier. Make sure you include your address and your phone number.

Mistake No. 9. You Fail To Use Testimonials For All They Are Worth
Testimonials are another valuable ingredient for all your marketing materials. They excite your prospect and soothe his anxieties. Isn't it always easier to buy when someone else has found great benefits from that very thing you want to buy? Why do you think celebrities get paid the big bucks just to put their face in an ad? Or have their voice in a commercial? The prospect sees or hears them and figures, "Hey, if it was good enough for Mr. Celebrity, it must be good. How do I order one?"

Although celebrities bring attention, real people with real names and locations are equally effective. And maybe even MORE believable because they don't typically get paid for their testimonials. Testimonials that state a strong benefit relieve your prospect from the anxiety of making the correct buying decision. It lets him know that the benefit is really attainable.

Mistake No. 10. You Fail To Give Your Prospect A Reason For Responding NOW
Develop an offer that gets your prospect to respond NOW. A sale now is worth two in the vague distant future. Offer something of value to the prospect, but put a time limit on it. Make him think that he'll lose out if he doesn't respond right away. Even if you offer something for FREE, make sure it offers a benefit, and has a definite deadline for action.

Your offer should get your prospect to drop what he's doing right now to send in a check, call in an order, send an email, place an order online, or rush to your store or office to buy what you're selling. Remember that prospects are bombarded with more than 17,500 marketing messages per week. A compelling offer helps separate your message from the other 17,499.

Your prospect isn't just sitting there waiting for your message. Imagine, in his daily mail he gets bills, check, letters from friends, and probably a myriad of other envelopes stuffed with offers trying to separate him from his money. And that's doesn't even include all the spam and junk mail that shows up in his email Inbox. Make him an offer he can't refuse.

These are just some of the mistakes made by the majority of marketers who then wonder why their advertising rarely seems to pay off. Now that we've identified your mistakes, keep them in mind the next time you write any marketing documents, from emails to brochures and ads, from media kits to proposals, and from newsletters to direct response mailings.

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Frank Buddenbrock is publisher of www.findanexpertonline.com, Earth's #1 Source for Advice, Answers & Solutions. Get additional expert advice from speakers, professionals, specialists, consultants, gurus, coaches, and instructors.