When your advertising turns into “bad-vertising”

Many small business owners inadvertently pay for advertising that produces little-to-no return – but there is help.

You’ve done it before: purchased advertising from your local media salesperson and then you wait for your customers to flood into your business, but it doesn’t happen. And then you do it all over again expecting better results, and it still doesn’t happen. This is “badvertising!”

It doesn’t have to be that way: your advertising can and should work for you. You’ve heard it all before: “You have to spend money to make money; advertising pays; without advertising, nobody knows you exist,” etc. And while it may be difficult, it’s might be helpful to ignore all of the things you’ve heard about advertising and incorporate some of the following ideas.

Advertising salespeople are trained in sales, not necessarily in advertising. Therefore, don’t feel pressured to allow your salesperson to create or write your advertising. A natural issue with salespeople is that they want to please their customer – you – so, they are more likely to create an advertisement that you like, not one that will necessarily drive traffic to your business.

For example, you will tell your local newspaper salesperson that your restaurant is having a Friday Night Fish Fry Special. Your salesperson will ask you questions about it like, “What time does it start?” and “How much are you charging?” and “What else are you doing?” and “What is coming up next for you?” The salesperson goes back to the paper, produces an advertisement that will satisfy you. It becomes badvertising because it is not targeted to your customer — it’s aimed at you!

The ad copy is written like this: “Come to Joe’s Restaurant for Friday Night Fish Fry. This Friday night from 4:30 to 9:00 PM January 17th. $10.99 for Adults, $8.99 for children 12 and older. $5.99 for children 11 to 5. 4 and under free. Fresh deep fried, baked or broiled atlantic cod, served with baked potato, cross-cut fries, seasoned fries, regular fires or onion rings, cole-slaw, bread or toast. Drinks are extra, and drink specials begin at 5 PM. $1.50 domestic tab beers, $2.00 rail drinks, top-line cocktails are $.50 extra. Also serving a full menu, including surf-and-turf, burgers, wraps, soups, salad, and our famously fresh bakery goods. Saturday special is slow-roasted prime rib of beef, salad, soup, and drinks. Sunday brunch buffet starts at 10:00 AM, which includes hand-made omelets, egg plant special, steak, salad, famous baked items, and desserts. Monday, closed. Tuesday dinner specials. Located at 1122 Overwritten Avenue, Yourtown, Michigan (right next to the big yellow Furniture Barn, across from Valley Ford. 248-234-5678. We accept most major credit cards. Reservations not necessary.”

This is a good example of badvertising: your customer will not respond to this advertisement; chances are they won’t even read it. There is way too much unnecessary information! A better way to make your advertisements work is to try this:

“Friday Night Fish Fry at Joe’s Restaurant. $10.99 for AYCE serving from 4:30. On the corner of South Main and 2nd Street, Yourtown, Michigan. Come and try it this Friday! 248-234-5678 or at http://www.joesrestaurant.com.” “Home of the Best Bakery in Yourtown.” Add a photo of people enjoying their night out.

This is a sample of advertising that is directed toward the customer who is likely someone who likes fish fry events, is price-conscious and who knows how to find South Main and 2nd Street. Also, this ad copy has a call to action and a way for your customer to reach the restaurant for more information. This example reduces the ad copy to the basic essential components, that also has a call to action and a branding component. This type of newspaper message should have a return on your advertising investment.

If you purchase radio advertisements, the same principles apply: write to your audience, taking into account what they are like and what would appeal to them. Radio communication messages, and all other broadcast advertising, should have these basic advertising components:

  1. An attention device
  2. A clear brand message
  3. An entertainment component
  4. A call to action

Aim to keep your messages simple, entertaining and have a call to action; this will improve your advertising results. Don’t pay for badvertising. Pay for advertising that works.

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