3 Reasons Advertising Fails & How To Avoid Them

3 Advertising Fails
If everyone could just shut up.

An Interview with America’s Advocate for Small Business & Local Marketing

A recent survey of small business owners listed marketing as 1 of the top 3 most frustrating aspects of running a business today.  So we sought out some advice from a local marketing expert about how to simplify marketing and make it easier.  We interviewed Steven Ludwig, the CEO of Source Local Media, a nationwide advertising agency focused on growing small businesses.  He is a self-proclaimed advocate for small business and local marketing who writes a popular blog on local marketing.

“Like most things, marketing a small business just keeps getting more and more complicated.  It’s become virtually impossible for a small business owner to handle advertising, website, social media, directory listings, and every other aspect of marketing alone,” Ludwig said.  “It’s no wonder people fail and don’t know why.  We all know something is keeping us from success, but it’s hard to pinpoint.”

“I’ve talked with thousands of small business owners, and almost all of them have a horror story to tell about advertising.  Even I have horror stories to tell about advertising.  And after 30 years, I decided we had to figure out the commonalities of failure in order to unlock the keys to success.  We found that most advertisers give up right on the precipice of success.  And the workshop came out of that.”

In a recent video workshop, Ludwig shared the 3 most common reasons advertising fails, and how to avoid them.  After watching the video, we wanted to explore them in greater detail:

Reason #1:  Ready.  Fire.  Aim.

Q:           What do you mean by “Ready.  Fire.  Aim.”?

A:           “Marketing plans frequently come together in the wrong order.”

“We typically buy media first.  And the reason is simple; people are selling advertising, not plans.  We buy reach before we’ve figured out WHO we want to talk to (targeting) and WHAT we want to say to them (messaging),” Ludwig said.  “About a decade ago, we developed this basic marketing formula.  Whenever we break from this strategy, we fail.”

“It’s very common that small businesses buy advertising and only AFTER that consider what the messaging will be.  That’s a huge red flag.”


Marketing Formula

Q:           How do advertisers avoid this type of failure?

A:           “Make a plan FIRST, and don’t buy advertising until you’ve given a lot of thought to targeting and messaging.  And be ready to track results.  That minimizes failure.”

Reason #2:  Too Many Roadblocks

Q:           What roadblocks do advertisers create, and how does that cause advertising to fail?

A:           “We often put customers through all sorts of unnecessary hoops and obstacles that stop them from becoming actionable leads.”

“The goal of advertising is to generate actionable leads, meaning people you can contact who have expressed interest in your product or service,” Ludwig said.  “Since most small businesses don’t sell on-line, the goal of advertising is most commonly a phone call, a form fill on your website, a chat or text exchange, a store or showroom visit, or some other step that creates an actionable lead you can then convert into a new customer.”

Q:           How do advertisers avoid this type of failure?

A:           “Consumers today want total control of the sales process.  So remove any unnecessary friction in the process.  In other words, what’s the minimum you need to move them to the next step in the sales process?”

Reason #3:  Blurry Vision

Q:           How does blurry vision create failure?

A:           “Almost every business generates a TON of useful data that never gets looked at in any meaningful way,” Ludwig commented.

“We interviewed hundreds of small businesses and asked them if they felt their advertising was successful.  Here’s what was amazing: regardless of whether they felt successful or not, most small business owners were just basing that on ‘feel’ rather than real data,” Ludwig shared.  “That blew me away.  Because the results can easily be tracked today, and you can base your success or failure on real information.”

In Conclusion

Q:           What’s your advice for small business owners who are frustrated?

A:           “Don’t give up.  When you have a strategy that works, you can get back to loving your business and start a growth pattern that takes it far beyond anything you’ve ever experienced.”