Advertising Sucks A1

Top 5 reasons traditional advertising sucks.


Reason #1: Business are frustrated with poor results (particularly in a slow economy)

We regularly survey business owners, and ask them “What are you doing to promote your business?” and “What results are you getting?” The answers are always the same “Yellow pages, internet, newspaper, radio, TV and direct mail” and “Crappy, lousy, frustrating, low response, waste of money”.

We get the same responses with businesses spending $1,000 to those spending well into the six-figures each year.” And here’s the real kicker- most of them are perfectly willing to continue the waste and simply “hope” that things get better!

In theory they are supposed to give people a warm, fuzzy feeling when they think about that company, and make people want to buy from them. In reality the only people making money from these kinds of ads are the ad reps.

Even so, most business owners wind up using ‘traditional’ advertising because they simply do not know any other way.

Reason #2: “Traditional” advertising is about building “image” rather than building wealth.

“Traditional” advertising creates ZERO differentiation between you and your competitors. It doesn’t demonstrate the value your products/services provide nor does it motivate the customer to buy those products/services.

Major corporations can afford to dump millions of dollars towards a long term branding strategy, but you can’t – as a small business you have to make every advertising dollar count. You simply cannot afford the waste involved with “traditional” advertising.

‘Getting your name out there doesn’t make you any money …. the only thing that makes you money is getting the customer ‘in there’ (ie your business or website)”. ‘Direct response’ marketing is specifically designed to get the customer IN THERE … RIGHT NOW … FAST!


Reason #3: ‘Traditional’ advertising copies the copy cats

The majority of business owners may be experts at their business but are clueless about marketing their products/services …. so they look at how everyone else in their industry category is advertising, and copy them. Marketing expert, Dan Kennedy, calls this “marketing incest,”

I’m sure you’ve had this happen … You sit down with a yellow page rep, or newspaper ad rep, and the first thing he does is look up other ads in your industry. He then begins pointing like a rabid monkey to all of your competitor’s ads and says things like ….“You could do an ad like his!! Or one like his…or his…or his!”


Reason #4: Prospects discard most advertising unopened

There is enormous waste in the vast majority of mass marketing campaigns. Studies show that approximately 60% of direct mail gets thrown out unopened, email is even worse at around 80%. Consider how often you sort your mail over a trash can, sort emails with a finger on the delete key or change channels/stations as soon as ads come on.

To make things worse, the untargeted ‘blanket approach’ to traditional marketing ensures the response rates of people bothering to pay any attention to your advertising piece is insignificant … consequently the cost of acquiring a new customer is always excessive.

The final nail in the coffin, relates to ‘traditional’ advertising being a long term strategy. The theory being, over time presenting your brand (in a favourable light) builds familiarity and consequently trust. Which over TIME will prompt the prospective customer to CONSIDER your business IF they need your products/services. Note the terms ‘time’, ‘consider’ & ‘if’ are in capitals … you join the dots.


Reason #5: “Traditional” advertising promotes the myth of “The Silver Bullet”

Most business owners are looking for that one “magical” ad, or “super” campaign, or “hot” new product, or one new something … that will bring in all the customers they need and solve their financial woes. I call this the “Myth of the Silver Bullet.”

Every advertising rep, industry rep, web designer and promotional-gift-item rep who walks through your door will try to sell you on the idea they are offering … [sound the trumpets] … your Silver Bullet. Consequently, most business owners stumble from one “magic” solution to another, desperately seeking that “silver bullet.”


Let me state for the record, I believe traditional advertising has long term value (if done correctly), is critical to business sustainability and should be included in your marketing mix …. tell your market what your business stands for, develop a brand persona and continually reinforce that image via advertising.

What I disagree with is the belief that traditional advertising can be used in isolation. Poor response rates, excessive lead times and ambiguous results tracking – limit its utility to a support role (broad brand recognition) re-enforcing direct response marketing campaigns. Traditional marketing therefor only becomes of any value when applied in conjunction with direct marketing campaigns. That’s not what you’ve been told …. Is it.


Still unconvinced …. Let me prove it.

The main issue with traditional advertising is not whether or not it should be used …. rather how and when its used. You are bombarded with marketing agencies telling you to advertise your brand, but not shown how to do it effectively nor informed its primary benefit is reinforcing direct marketing campaigns.

Still think your ads are working ….

Open the yellow pages to your industry category, or Google your industry…most of those slick, pretty ads you see are ‘traditional’ image advertising. Block out their business name and put yours in. See any difference? Neither does your prospect!

All the ads say the same thing. Business name, bullet-points of what they do, and a phone number. Basically just blown up business cards. None of the businesses give a compelling reason why the prospect should use them verses everyone else.

Now turn to your yellow page ad or website and ask yourself the following questions (from the perspective of your customer):

  • 1.   Who is this for, and can your products & services solve my specific problems
  • 2.   How do I know your solutions work
  • 3.   How are you different … how do you provide unique value
  • 4.   What value add options do you provide
  • 5.   Why should I trust you … what guarantees do you have

Your prospects are asking these questions when assessing your ad (and by extension your business). If your ad doesn’t have answers to at least a couple you have no chance in attracting new customers.

…. Are you still surprised at the results you are getting.

About the Author

Peter VidaPeter Vida is a serial entrepreneur and sales & marketing strategist, with a visionary ability to take organisational objectives and produce real solutions for long-term success. Specialising in strategic planning, sales process engineering, sales & marketing management and performance development - Peter devides his time driving growth of 'Optisell' & 'Bizii', as well as contributing on business panels and corporate speaking engagements. Peter enjoys discussing sales & marketing issues, technology & trends, commenting on sales related news & events and challenging conventional business beliefs.

Number of posts: 19
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