6 of 12 Causes of Advertising Failure: Creating Ads Instead of Campaigns

creating-ads-instead-of-campaigns* Originally published 10/26/15 - Updated 4/29/21

We’ve come to the halfway point in our 12-part series on causes of advertising failure. Hopefully you’ve been checking back each Monday as we reveal each failure and discuss why and how, as a small business owner, you can avoid these missteps. So far we’ve uncovered advertising failures 1-5: the desire for instant gratification, big reach, small budget, business owner knows best, the use of unsubstantiated claims, and improper use of passive media. In this post we’re discussing failure number six: creating ads instead of campaigns.

Limitations of Creating Single Ads

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again; and if you’re a regular reader of this blog you may get tired of hearing it. In order for your advertising to be effective, you’ll need to look at it as an investment, not an expense. This actually goes back to our causes of advertising failure #1: desire for instant gratification. One of the major problems most small businesses face is that advertising often takes time to work, and they want, well, instant gratification. We want to plant the seeds in the morning and have a full crop by dinner. That rarely happens in business.

The problem is — running a single ad and expecting dramatic changes to your ROI is foolish. Consumers and potential clients need time and exposure to your business before making the decision to do business with you. When advertisers run a single ad, it can’t possibly tell the entire story. It takes time and an investment to harbor a relationship and trust with a consumer; it takes a campaign.

The most effective, persuasive and memorable ads are those most like a rhinoceros. They will each make a single point very powerfully. While it’s a good idea to promote your holiday sales, you’ve got to think about the bigger picture — What is your overall end goal? We’re not just talking about for the advertisement, but for your business.

It’s a waste of your precious time and dollars to sit down and craft a new ad concept each month. It’s also confusing to the consumer. Stick with one compelling campaign, tailoring your message based on the season or sale, but never losing sight of your overall goal.  

Benefits of Creating Campaigns

When you’ve committed to creating a campaign instead of creating ads, you’ll get the benefit of organizing your advertising strategy more effectively. Planning out a comprehensive marketing agenda at the beginning of your fiscal year allows you to think broader. Consider what you’re trying to accomplish with this campaign and never lose sight of that during your planning. So, how do you create an advertising campaign? This is a classic case that can be answered with our old friends who, what, where, when, why and how:

  • Who: Who am I looking to target; does this campaign speak to my audience — will it resonate with them?

  • What: What is my message, my powerful call-to-action?

  • Where: Where do I want to allot my marketing dollars this year?

  • When: When should I cut back a little, and what months do I need to budget more for? (This is a good time to write down all your special sales, events, and any holidays where your advertising might need a little extra push.)

  • Why: This can cover a lot of bases. Why do I chose to advertise via this medium? Why am I looking to promote this product or service over another? Challenge yourself — ask yourself why — now is the time to really be secure in your decisions.

  • How: How can I better prepare my creative for different mediums? How is my marketing going to translate from radio, to social, to digital? How am I going to create these ads? How am I going to get this message across in the most engaging and fascinating way possible? (We’re big fans of letting the experts handle this part. They’re experts in typeface, spacing and blank space, color schemes, and imagery. Leave it up to the professionals to portray your brand in the best way possible.)

Another one of the benefits of creating campaigns is you often get discounted rates. When placing advertisements in advance, many media outlets will give you deals based on frequency. For example, a 1x rate at a newspaper is much higher than the rate for running your ad 13x, 26x, or 52x. The more you run, the more you’ll save.

What to Do Next

We suggest that you plan your advertising campaign 6-12 months in advance. If you set aside a few days to get all the work done, make creative decisions (or consult a designer), craft a calculated strategy, and place your advertising — you’ll have composed a strong campaign.

Get with your designer so they know important deadlines for all advertisements far in advance. Setting early deadlines gives you valuable time to either approve the creative or send back for revisions. Allowing yourself this organization lends itself to better looking and sounding ads. When you’re not rushed last minute to pull something together, it’ll shine through in your final product.

When you’ve created your advertising campaign, you can begin to focus your attention on other important business decisions that may have been sitting on the “one day” shelf for far too long. That day has finally come!

Make sure to check back next Monday when we break down advertising failure #7: Obedience to Unwritten Rules.

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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