A classic marketing mistake

I’ve just been browsing the pages of London Business Matters and stumbled across an advertisement for a ‘creative communications agency’, to spare their blushes I will not name them. The ad is a classic example of how not to market your business.

There are two fundamental mistakes with this advertisement. The first is that the advertisement is all about the advertiser and what they do and not about what the prospect has to gain by using the advertiser. The second, and in this case more important, mistake is the use of English. If you are in the communications field surely it is a fundamental requirement to demonstrate competence in the subject.

The ad starts ‘** is a creative communications agency, which thinks strategically, applying all our expertise to deliver innovative communication solutions’. I will admit that light years have elapsed since I was in an English grammar lesson but I think there is some confusion of the subject in that sentence. First we have an inanimate agency with the ability to think. Clever! Then we move to talking about ‘our’ communication solutions. OK I might be accused of being pedantic after all the grammar check on Word found nothing wrong with the sentence but if one is peddling communication surely it is important to demonstrate an aptitude for the subject.

The ad doesn’t get any better. The next sentence is ‘Our approach results in producing both inspiring and effective solutions.’ What does that mean to the prospective customer? The ad goes on ‘It is our continual endeavor to provide clients with the very best publishing communication service.’ So they try hard but do they succeed? This is an English company specialising in communication but they have used an American spelling for endeavour. There’s a further spelling horror in the offer where they refer to ‘a free design consultation of you’re magazine’.

I suspect this advertisement will have been a complete waste of money for the agency concerned.

It is always difficult to make advertising work but we can increase our chances by focusing on our prospects and customers:

  • What problems are they having that we can solve?
  • How will they benefit from our solution?
  • Why should they choose us rather than our competitors?
  • How can we minimise the risk of purchase?
  • How can we encourage them to read our advertisement? A captivating headline can help or a photograph might gain attention.

When you are reasonably happy with your advertisement get someone else to check it.  The best person will not be too close to your product or service so that they can ask questions which might reveal weaknesses in your message. Make sure that person can spell and will recognise grammatical errors. When you are happy test your advertisement on a small audience before you pay mega bucks for a campaign. Tweak it to see if you can improve response rates but only change one thing at a time or you will not be able to identify what it was that made the difference.

If you would like some help with your marketing drop me an email or comment on this article. An initial consultation is free and doesn’t commit you to anything.

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