I Tried Advertising Once and It Didn't Work


Sometimes when we talk with business owners who have never advertised with Zimmer Communications before, we hear them say “I tried advertising once and it didn’t work.” Unfortunately, this sometimes means that they’ve decided that ALL advertising doesn’t work and they aren’t open to considering new options. We get it. You feel burned. You spent money on a campaign and didn’t get the results you expected. While advertising can have an element of trial-and-error to it, there are steps you can take to minimize the “error” and make sure your next advertising investment is set up to succeed.

Here are 6 steps experience has taught us that will help you move forward and find the marketing success you are looking for: 

1. Make sure you were reaching your target audience. 

Remember, you’re not really buying an advertising medium, you’re buying access to an audience. Make sure that audience is the right one for your business. We highly recommend you make the investment to build a Target Persona for your customer base. The research helps you understand more about who they are, where they can be found, how they make buying decisions, what’s important to them and what isn’t, where else they shop, and why…for starters. Never assume you know what your customers want and why. Ask them. Then align your marketing with their responses.  

2. Make sure the offer was one that actually motivated people to respond. 

Let’s say you have a product that’s piling up or a service that is languishing. For whatever reason, the demand just isn’t there. True, the public may not know about it, making it a prime candidate for advertising. But make sure the product or service you are promoting is one that consumers actually want before you start shouting it from the mountain tops. 


3. Make sure your expectations were aligned with your budget. 

If you had a Prius budget and a Lexus expectation, you may be setting yourself up for failure. Your expectations didn’t match your budget. There are ways to leverage a smaller budget and still get results, and your marketing partner will know how to do that (or should). But it may mean starting with a more affordable option and scaling back your expectations. Be realistic. 

4. Make sure your campaign was set up correctly from the beginning. 

Successful advertising is based on consistency, reach, and frequency. For this to work for you, it’s crucial for you to know about the 2 foundational marketing strategies: an awareness campaign and an action campaign. Know what the difference is and how they work. They function differently, they are scheduled differently, the ad creative is different, and they drive different outcomes.

action and awareness campaigns

5. Make sure you aren’t an advertising “hopper”.  

If in looking back across your advertising history, you’ve consistently abandoned one strategy and jumped to a completely new one - whether it’s every 3 months or every 3 years  - you are a hopper. The fact is, hoppers lose a lot of money in advertising. Why? Consider the big dogs: there’s a reason Coca-Cola, Mcdonald's, and Nike continue to advertise in spite of the fact that just about everyone knows them. Advertising builds trust through consistency

When you jump from platform to platform, you lose all the equity you built with that audience and have to start completely over each time. The goal is to keep your core campaigns consistent but build on them as your business grows. You can add different elements and new strategies to keep things fresh as your budget allows. 

6. Make sure there was alignment across all channels, even internally. 

In other words, if someone heard your ad and went to your website (a logical next step for a consumer), did they see anything about your offer to reinforce what they just saw or heard? When they walked into the store, did your sales or customer service team know about the offer and could they answer questions appropriately? Did all your advertising mediums present the same offer? What about your on-hold messaging or in-store signage? Make sure that, with every touchpoint, a consumer has a consistent experience with your business. 

the marketing bridge

An Important Last Question

Do you want to spend money testing a marketing medium or would you rather invest in getting results for your business? A radio station for example doesn’t need you to tell them whether or not their station has listeners. They know that. They pay consultants and research companies a lot of money each year to verify that fact. You as a business owner are much wiser to invest in growing your business and doing it in a way that drives results. 


Back to Blog

Related Articles

WOW! I Didn't Know Zimmer Communications Does All That!

At Zimmer Communications, our mission since we started in 1965 has been to help our client's...

Why You Shouldn't Copy Your Competitor's Creative

We all know the saying, “imitation is the best form of flattery.” When it comes to art, science and...

Project Management Tips (That REALLY Work) for Busy Business Owners

When you own your own business, it can seem like everything about your business is a project that...