When marketing creative works, a campaign can soar. It might be a catchy slogan, a perfect image, or an earworm jingle — whatever it is, it makes your advertisements memorable and drives sales. But sometimes, the creative doesn’t work. Maybe it’s lacking a call-to-action, attempting to put too much information into a single ad, or simply a boring idea. But where marketing creative goes wrong, ROI decreases and sales drop, so it’s essential that business owners and marketers get their creative right. Here are some examples of marketing creative gone wrong, along with ways to make them right. For this article, we’re going to look at best practices for radio and print and digital; however, these tips can be applied to nearly any part of your marketing creative.
Have you ever heard that fast-talking disclaimer guy at the end of commercials? The reason he speaks so quickly is because he has a lot to fit into a short period of time — usually for legal reasons. With a typical ad, however, you shouldn’t feel rushed. Indeed, as the Harvard Business Review notes, too much information can actually impair decision-making and keep potential customers from choosing your product or service.
In radio, a rushed ad makes the message unclear, muddying the call-to-action with information overload — address, phone number, website, social media handles. In other media (print, video, digital), this excess of information makes the ad visually unappealing without giving the viewer a clear understanding of what he or she should do. Instead of trying to fit every bit of information into a single ad, come up with a concise purpose and clear call-to-action — usually, your website is sufficient, as it should contain all other contact details). This will help you “trim the fat” and make your ad as clear-cut as possible.
Another major hindrance to improving your marketing ROI is a poorly designed ad. Poor design doesn’t necessarily have to refer to bad design choices or contrasting colors (though these can indeed be signs of poor design). Rather, it is all about structure. Does the ad speak to the right audience? Is it too lighthearted when it should be more serious? Does it bombard the listener or viewer with extraneous information that doesn’t promote the benefits of your product or service?
Think about your ad in terms of what you’re trying to accomplish. In radio, you are likely trying to drive traffic to your website, engage your audience using a hashtag, or have a potential customer contact you for more information. You should make sure your ad is centered around these ideas. In print, video, and digital, your aims may be similar, but you want to make sure there isn’t a visual miscue, such as contrasting colors or use of a low-resolution photo or video. Ensure nothing can be considered distracting to take away from your overall message.
It’s also important to remember that your ad’s main purpose is to be effective for the short period of time you have the audience’s attention. Speak to your audience on their level, not yours. For example, a medical practice advertising a preventive health screening should use language that everyone can understand — not just doctors. The ad should also focus on how the product or service benefits your customers. Nothing makes an audience lose interest quicker than focusing on obscure information like the year your business was founded or how many awards you’ve won.
In advertising, the key question you must ask yourself is, “Does this message make a lasting impression?” Marketers often select the safest advertising strategy or one that blends into the crowd. However, taking risks with elements such as color, messaging, and branding can make huge impacts. Many radio programs do this with a catchy, viral jingle or catchphrase. Stuart Dornfield explains that jingles increase brand marketing by 100-fold and that even the youngest listeners can pick up earworm melodies and rhythms.
On the other hand, print and digital marketing face an entirely different challenge. The average person sees an average of 362 ads per day, yet only recalls 153 of them according to Media Dynamics, Inc. In order to stand out on the page or screen, there must be a concerted effort to choose colors and images that do not blend in with its surroundings, but rather contrast. One of the ways to do this is to avoid white backgrounds or use borders in brighter colors to make your content pop.
Having a great story is one thing, but when the story serves no purpose or is confusing, your viewers will be less likely to want to follow along. Determine a specific goal for your advertising and keep your message clear. For example, like promoting your automotive business but not mentioning the services you provide, like body work or general maintenance. Don’t confuse your prospects with vague calls-to-action either. Let them know that they should “Call to make an appointment now!”
These advertisements fail because there is no clear goal. There is no one telling the listener and viewer what the product is, how it can benefit them, or what to do about it next.
Finally, so many brands rely on just one medium to market their products and services. For example, a radio ad fails to mention a popular Twitter page or a banner ad leads to the website with no tracking metrics set up. Integration is the key to tying everything together. This should include branding strategies such as maintaining the same look, feel, tone, and message across every channel used. Consistency is key.
Contently describes inconsistent branding as a dinner party in which no one can see your face, the tone of your voice, or your dress. Instead of interacting with one another like you know the person, you are left wondering who that person is or why they are even there. Branding gives a face to your product or business. When you vary your advertising too much on different platforms, it causes consumers to question your brand and wonder if they’re still working with the same company that had that really compelling radio ad or really creative banner graphic.
Learning from marketing creative failures is the best way to get your brand or business’ marketing strategy on the right track. With messages that are simple, integrated, and memorable, your advertising can attract both attention and retention. Ultimately, knowing where marketing creative goes wrong will help your business improve your marketing ROI and gain greater traction in an ever-evolving marketplace.