21 reasons why advertising campaigns fail

An objection I sometimes hear from suppliers and service providers is that they don’t advertise because they weren’t satisfied with results in the past.

This objection usually comes with an implication that the poor response lay squarely at the feet of the publisher or the magazine or the unscrupulous person who sold the ad.

Rarely does the advertiser admit mea culpa. Funny that.

There are many reasons why advertising campaigns fail, and yes, regrettably there are some unscrupulous sales people who fan the flames of resentment towards our profession. However, in my experience the advertiser is more often than not at fault when their campaign’s a fizzer.

Before I list those reasons, let me clarify the role of advertising in business-to-business publications: it is to deliver information that allows people to make informed decisions about the purchase, procurement or specification of plant, equipment and services.

Advertising in the trade press is unlike advertising in, say, the classifieds section of your local newspaper where it would be perfectly reasonable to expect calls after your ad runs.

Expecting people that procure equipment and services worth millions of dollars to beat a path to your door after seeing your ad for the first time is fantasy.

If somebody is considering the purchase of, say, a crusher and screener they are not going to pick up the phone and place an order after seeing your ad for the first time.

The buying process for big ticket items is long and complex. It can involve many stakeholders with decisions taking months – sometimes years.

So why advertise in trade publications? – Essentially it is to build brand awareness.

Building brand awareness means increasing your share of voice in the readers’ minds about your company and brand, as well as your equipment and services.

Providing you have a good product or service that’s in demand and you’ve invested in an effective advertising campaign over a reasonable period you will reap the benefits when the purchaser is ready to buy. Why? – Because you’ve built brand awareness, gained the trust and confidence of the market and grown the share of voice in your brand.

As former Australian PM John Howard once famously quipped about what it takes to win election campaigns: “You can’t fatten the pig on market day.”

Now back to the reasons why your advertising campaign may have failed:

  1. There was no demand for your product or service.
  2. Your competitors have done a much better job of building brand awareness through advertising and taken market share.
  3. You advertised to the wrong audience.
  4. Your ads were lackluster passing by the readers’ eyes like a ship in the night.
  5. You advertised in the wrong publication.
  6. You advertised too little.
  7. You had no strategy behind your advertising campaign.
  8. Your ads were to small to be noticed.
  9. Your ad layout and design were poor.
  10. The graphics and images in your ads were inappropriate.
  11. Your ads had no headline.
  12. Your ad headlines had no clear call to action or highliht the problem that your equipment or service solves.
  13. You don’t track or measure the source of enquiries.
  14. Your ads were in poor positions.
  15. You bought the advertising because it was cheap – or the cheapest compared to the competitor publications.
  16. The person responsible for designating and booking the campaign had no idea what they were doing.
  17. There were too many people involved in the decision-making process about your advertising campaign. This reminds me of a riddle: what’s a camel? – A horse put together by a committee!
  18. The magazine had copies distributed on newsstands bought by people not involved in the purchase, procurement and specification of plant, equipment and services.
  19. The person who sold you the ad had no genuine interest in your business or marketing objectives.
  20. Your expectations were unreasonable and, therefore, unachievable.
  21. Your advertising budget was inadequate.

For help with your advertising needs, call me on 0435 945 868 or email jamie@wadebusiness.com.au

One Response to “21 reasons why advertising campaigns fail”

  1. Ben Derham January 9, 2012 at 7:16 am #

    A very informative article 🙂