3 of 12 Causes of Advertising Failure: Business Owner Knows Best


Originally published 10-5-2015. Updated 10-19-2020.

As a business owner, you’re uniquely unqualified to look at your company or product objectively. You’ve poured your heart, soul, and probably life savings into this venture; it’s your baby. As they say, it’s hard to read the label when you’re inside the bottle. You’re on the inside, looking out, making it impossible to see what others see looking in. That's why in part 3 of our our 12-part series on reasons why your advertising isn’t working, we’re discussing the topic of “business owner knows best,” the subjective hurdle many stubborn business owners need to overcome in order to succeed.

Business Owners (Don’t Always) Know Best

Maybe you’ve seen Chef and Restaurateur Gordon Ramsay’s hit show Kitchen Nightmares; the show in which he barges into failing restaurants in an attempt to revive them. In every show, Gordon inspects the entire facet of the restaurant from ownership and management styles, to their menu items, food taste (or lackthereof), and most nauseatingly, the cleanliness and quality of food standards in the kitchen.

This chain of events never fails: Gordon tries the food, almost instantly deems it dreadful, and then the owner, adamant that their dish is the best filet mignon this side of the Mississippi, has a fit and storms off saying Gordon wouldn’t know good steak if it hit him in the face.

As viewers, these scenes always leave us yelling at the TV: “you’re $150,000 in debt and no one is eating at your restaurant — listen to the man!” This is a classic case of the owner thinking he/she knows best.

Too much knowledge of your own product (where you are the expert) leads you to answer questions no one is asking; this can lead to extremely ineffective advertising. Being too close to your own product or service innately makes you too sensitive to the objections you may hear in the market or directly from customers. An outsider can see your business through a different lens and help you to re-focus on what really matters.

Using an Expert

Looking at your advertising objectively may require the help of an expert marketer. These professionals are trained to understand marketing, what works, and what doesn’t. They are familiar with best practices for advertising, and understand that certain creative is best optimized for use on certain media.

Media partners, especially, are skilled to help with certain media, and they’ll tell you — what works on radio won’t always work on billboards and vice versa. The type of call-to-action you choose will likely be different for something on a website banner ad versus on a radio commercial. And the way you approach a similar marketing message will be different depending on where the ad will play. For example, while you can show someone how a particular car hugs the road when driving through the mountains, you can accomplish this differently on the radio by describing the experience, using the sound of the vehicle and the wind going by, and let the listener visualize the experience themselves. Both can be effective, with the right creative and production, but this same message will be approached differently for obvious reasons.

For example, automotive companies may want to focus more on sounds and visceral feelings such as revving engines in their radio spot, something that obviously won’t translate on a billboard.

On the other hand, radio may not be able to clearly invoke stunning visual imagery; that is something better suited for billboards.

Keeping your branding consistent is critical, it increases brand awareness and allows consumers to build relationships and trust in your brand. Having said that, it’s still necessary to tailor your content based on the media in which you’re advertising.

The “business owners knows best” mindset can deeply affect your bottom line if this is something you overlook. Experts know THEIR unique audience, and how to marry that with YOURS. They are also expert marketers, just like you are expert business owners. Through the years, and all the campaigns they’ve analyzed, a marketing expert knows what does and doesn’t work. Consider hiring someone to create, execute, and manage your marketing plan.

At Zimmer, we strive to fill that role for you, helping our customers through the entire campaign planning and marketing strategy process at no additional cost. Letting us (or another marketing expert) take that weight off of your shoulders will allow you to focus on other business priorities.

Understanding that, as a business owner, you cannot objectively look at your business, is the first step to resolving this advertising failure. Once you’ve handed your baby over to someone who is qualified to help, you’ll begin to notice positive changes to your ROI. You’re a passionate business owner, you had a dream, and you turned it into a career! Get back to focusing your attention on owner-related issues you may have been neglecting, while letting the experts do what they do best: increase your bottom line!

It’s important to note that this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be involved in the marketing planning process, or that your opinion doesn’t matter. It simply means you shouldn’t let your personal feelings, or possibly biased opinions, get in the way of what will actually work. Working together with your marketing partner is the ultimate position to be in.

Stay tuned! Next, we’re bringing you 4 of 12 Causes of Advertising Failure: Unsubstantiated claims such as “highest quality at the lowest price.”

The 12 Causes of Advertising Failure courtesy of Roy H. Williams , author of The Wizard of Ads & Secret Formulas of the Wizard of Ads.


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