Over the years I have seen many small business owners make the same advertising mistakes repeatedly.
Why? I’m not sure?
So to remedy that, here are my top 10 mistakes that small businesses tend to make, and how not to do the same...
1. Knowing why you’re in business.
I am surprised at how many small businesses have never addressed this.
Yes, you’re in business to make money, but what will you do with that money after you get it?
Having a tangible goal will give you the right mindset to achieve your objective.
2. Not having a Plan… An Advertising Plan!
An Advertising Plan doesn’t need to be complicated.
It can be as simple as a page with the next 6 to 12 months listed on it, or as detailed as you like.
BUT you need to make sure you include seasonal events, sales you want to run and the different media you want to use.
3. Not maintaining your advertising
It’s as simple as this, if you don’t advertise, you will be forgotten.
If you need to cut costs, whatever you do, don’t cut out your advertising!
Advertising is an investment in attracting business, not a cost...
• Your advertising helps you maintain top of mind awareness. Not everyone will want your product or service right now, but when they do, you need to be the one they remember.
• Advertising doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Special packages are available through media outlets, but only do them if they align with your Advertising Plan. You know, that one from point 2!
4. Not having a consistent branding voice and message.
Does this sound familiar? A business with one message in the newspaper, another one on TV, a different one for the radio and a random post on a business Facebook page?
If it does, and it hasn’t worked for you, here is why…
The key is to have the "one strong clear message on all the media, about your business."
This is so when your potential customers see your TV ad, then later hear your radio ad, they should instantly recognise it as the same business.
It’s about making sure people remember you and remember exactly what you’re about.
However, you don’t need a massive budget to do this, simply:
• Use the same voice over and music/jingle for TV and Radio
• Have the same slogan on all advertising.
• Use the same idea / message across every advertising opportunity.
• Or you can hire an advertising company to do it all for you.
5. Not knowing who your target demographic is.
While most small business owners advertise and ‘hope to hit as many people as possible’. They miss. Why?
It is a waste of time trying to sell something to someone who simply isn’t interested in your product or service.
But when you talk to people who are interested, half the sale is already made.
• Talk to your customer in their language so they can relate to you.
• Talk about what’s relevant to them.
• Keep in mind their motivations and interests.
6. Not focusing on your customer.
Often most small business owners talk about themselves in their advertising, not their customer and their problems, wants or needs.
Sure, it’s great to get an ego stroke from people who heard your ad but… could that time have been better served focussing on their customers.
7. Putting too much information into the one commercial.
Remember: People can’t remember too much!
Usually, they remember one clear and concise thing about an ad, any ad.
So don’t load up your commercial with lots of information, different ideas or lists of things you sell.
It’s a waste of your advertising space and money!
People will remember your advertising:
• If it’s a simple idea, or a simple concept.
• It’s relevant to them.
• It engages them. (Use humour / storytelling / or an anecdote)
Don’t try to promote everything you have in store, lists are boring, no matter how you try to dress it up with product name, price, and discount.
I have already fallen asleep writing about this…. YAWN!
Instead, use humour, tell a story or an anecdote which will engage a listener and make them pay attention.
8. Wanting the ad to sound or look like an ad.
People see and hear advertising cliché’s all the time and assume they still work. But they don’t.
An ad that sounds like another ad makes people tune out and ignore the message.
Boring, repetitive, and irrelevant information that you see and hear every day is ignored by your brain. Meaning that tired old clichés don’t even make it to the conscious part of your brain.
However, an engaging fresh and relevant story will. The mind likes to be delighted and entertained, and pay attention to your ad.
9. Not measuring the results properly.
Yes, it’s important to measure advertising, as it’ll give you a rough guide as to what is working and what’s not.
Here are some effective ways you can measure to see if your advertising is working:
• Do a door count
• Progressively check sales figures
• Compare years
• Website traffic
• You could also ask customers how they heard about you. BUT… This may not be completely accurate. I recently had a client tell me that a customer of theirs said that they had seen them on TV. But they only advertised on radio. True story.
Often clients want to include radio coupon, a ‘mention you heard this ad to get a discount’.
However, the anecdotal data shows that this strategy doesn’t work for a variety of reasons.
1. People are too embarrassed to ask for the discount without being prompted by someone in store. They feel it’s tantamount to begging. You should never ask you customers to do that.
2. The discount being is offered is too small and not worth the effort of asking.
10. Trust yourself and your advertising.
Advertising is not a short-term project. You can’t stop after only a few weeks.
Advertising is a long-term investment in the growth and success of your business.
However, it takes time to build momentum, and this is where most business owners become scared. They pull their advertising too early, before it’s had a chance to be effective.
Now... Imagine this:
You are the pilot of an airplane (that is a metaphor for your advertising) and you’ve invested in your fuel and your plane, you have set your flight path and you have started to thunder off down the runway (it's the dates that you eat, you know!).
It’s bumpy, it’s noisy, it’s scary and you haven’t even left the ground yet. Gripping the flight stick with one hand and your other on the accelerator...
What do you do?
Do you trust that the plane will fly? And it will get to your destination and goal?
Or do you abort the take-off, possibly risking crashing off the end of the runway?
It is up to you...
You need to trust that your advertising will do what you built it to do.
Until next time, stay safe out there, and trust in yourself and your advertising.