A Publication of WTVP

Entrepreneurs who are experts at what they do are often not
experts on advertising. They may make mistakes that can adversely affect their
business. Here is my "top ten" list of advertising mistakes to avoid for small

10. Hiring
the wrong consultants
. Be sure that you don’t pay an advertising consultant
or agency on a commission basis. Commission agreements mean that the more you
spend the more they make. That may lead to ill-advised recommendations. If you
need to hire a consultant, be sure to check references. Find someone who is
already working with a friend or colleague. Trustworthiness, integrity and
intelligence can be hard, but not impossible, to find.

9.   Using space advertising that is too small. Don’t waste money buying space ads too
small to tell your story. Buy adequate space and save money by running it less

One exception is: if you have a
product with a strong visual, then you can get along with smaller space. For
example, a company that sells bow ties via catalog runs a one inch ad in the New
Yorker. The ad doesn’t say much, can’t – no room. But it has a line drawing of
a bow tie taking up most of the space with a web address along the bottom.
Great ad. One picture gets across the whole idea.

8.   Not
having a website.
I don’t care
who you are or what you’re selling, if you don’t have a website you don’t appear
to be legitimate. Websites originated as sources of information for employees –
the company directory, company rules, for example. Today, a website is an
invaluable source of information, like a yellow pages listing with benefits.

As a potential customer, if I
can’t go online at my leisure and check out your business, what you sell, your
location your phone number, then I’m not going to buy from you.

You don’t have to have a
complicated website. Just a simple site with basic information and an email
address will do. It’s not as expensive as it seems. Do you belong to an
association? If so, see if they offer cheap website hosting. I have two
websites through the Author’s Guild and I only pay $9 per month for each.

7.   Not
capturing customer data.
If you
aren’t compiling your customers’ contact information and setting it up for
email and direct mail, you are throwing away a huge opportunity for low-cost or
no-cost sales. No matter how small you are, you should be communicating
regularly with your customers through email. Remember the old saying, "Out of
sight, out of mind."

6.   Wrong
kinds of communication with your customers.
Are you emailing your customers regularly but not including a
money-saving offer? If you are, then you may be wasting their time and yours.
Never send an email to a customer that doesn’t have a special offer. Making it
time sensitive will make it more compelling.

5.   Not keeping track of the lifetime value of
your customers.
Getting customers
is expensive. You don’t know what you can afford to pay for a customer if you
don’t know how much revenue you can expect each one to generate over his or her
lifetime with you. This number, called the "LTV" (lifetime value) should be recalculated
over time.

You should know how many times a
customer will buy from you and what their average expenditure with your
business will be. Then you can establish a realistic budget to spend to bring
in a customer and still make a profit.

4.   Not
branding every message from your company.
Branding means selecting a logo, color scheme, type font, tag line,
overall look and other features that remain the same no matter what
communication goes out from your company. Whether it’s a TV commercial,
newspaper ad, email communication or just a letter, every communication must
uphold the image of your brand. This consistency creates awareness of your
company, your products and services.

Company owners who keep changing
the look of the company and product advertising and marketing confuse potential
customers. Just because you’re not a Fortune 500 company doesn’t mean you
should ignore branding.

Be completely rigid about
branding. Insist on using it for every communication. You will make all your
efforts work together toward brand recognition and increased sales.

3.   Lack
of respect for creative talent.
get discouraged with clients who listen to their well-thought-out, targeted,
tightly written copy only to say, "Yes, that’s good, but my cousin Bernie says
we should say…"

Do you know how frustrating that
is? Copywriters stop doing their best when clients ignore their advice and use copy
tossed off by every idiot they know. Everyone thinks he can write copy, but it’s
not true.

Find a top-notch copywriter you
trust and stick with his or her copy. Don’t tell them how to write; they don’t
tell you how to run your company. Tell Cousin Bernie to come and make some
sales or handle customer service, but that you’ve got copywriting covered,
thank you.

2.   Incorrect
Under buying or
overbuying can kill a business. How do you know how much product will sell?
There is no magic formula and mistakes do happen-that’s why sales were
invented. But if you use direct marketing, you should be able to read your
results and project sales with reasonable accuracy. In fact, you might be able
to use direct marketing results to help forecast retail sales.

For example, if the small black
attaché case was a big hit in your catalog, perhaps it belongs in a highly
visible spot on your sales floor? While results are not always easily
translated from catalogs to retail, often they are. At least it will be an educated
guess, made through proven responses and sales.

1.   "I
don’t need advertising. I rely on word-of-mouth."
Word-of-mouth is great. It makes unheard-of movies hits; it
makes unknown actors stars. But you can’t control word-of-mouth. Advertising is
the best way to get the word out the way you want it, when you want it, about
your company, products and services. Even if you can’t afford a big budget,
some advertising is better than none. Ignoring advertising may make your climb
to success uphill all the way.