A Publication of WTVP

This month, I’m going to borrow a few comments from a recent Business Week article that talked about seven key reasons why advertising doesn’t work. I’ll highlight just a few of them here, incorporating our own client experiences with ads that just didn’t get the job done. As much as we try to counsel clients to follow our advice, sometimes they prefer to go their own direction.

One of our favorite clients, however, made this comment as we were working on the marketing plan for his practice. “Michelle,” he said, “I’ll trust your team to do the marketing, and I’ll stay focused on doing surgery.” And it’s been a beautiful relationship for the last six years! Here are a few key mistakes that can send your advertising down a bad path.

Trying to do too much. Quite often advertisers (or clients) feel that they need to tell the whole story in their ad. After all, they’re paying good money for their ad space. And they have a good product with great benefits that the world needs to know about. That’s true.

We certainly want to help our clients communicate the benefits of their products or services. But if you try to squish too much information into a small print ad, radio spot or TV commercial, people will tune it out or become overwhelmed and ignore it. Stop and think about the most effective ads or slogans you’ve heard over the years. Nike: Just Do It. Or…Save big money at Menards!

The same thing goes for visuals. Please don’t put every “great” photo into your ad layout. It becomes cluttered and the images start to compete for the customer’s attention.

Not giving it enough time (or budget). We see this happen all the time. In fact, if a client doesn’t have a large enough budget, we’d rather see them defer their advertising until they can make a commitment that will provide them with better results. I’m not saying you have to have a huge budget, but you do need to have a budget with a time commitment that spans more than a few weeks and is part of a comprehensive plan. And you do need a leadership team that understands advertising takes time to make an impact.

Advertising is like sunscreen. You can’t just put it on once and hope it protects you from skin cancer the rest of your life. You need to apply it with some consistency.

It’s boring. And it’s safe. I’ve combined two of the seven items into this section because they can easily be addressed together. Sometimes it’s okay to take a bit of a risk in your advertising. Clearly, in a conservative community such as ours, you don’t want to go too far in this area, but it’s wise to take some minor risks to differentiate your organization from your competitors. A skilled ad agency can effectively do this without compromising your company’s core brand.

So that’s four of the seven most common advertising mistakes. To learn about the other three, visit