Friday, April 13, 2007

Advertising's Biggest Money-Wasters

They say that fifty percent of your Advertising budget is wasted. The only problem is, nobody knows which fifty!

Well it's your lucky day, because over the years, I've uncovered advertising waste aplenty. Let me tell you about the most common ways advertising dollars are squandered, misspent, misdirected and misused.

But first, I think it's important to define which advertisers are likely to be the most wasteful.

1. Companies that don't use professional media-buying services.

2. Companies with in-house agencies that lack the expertise to buy media correctly. They save the standard 15% agency fees, but waste way more in weak creative, poor media planning and overbuying (it impresses the boss to hear or see his company name every 3 minutes).

3. Businesses that simply don't use the proper media to reach their target market.

4. Businesses that rely solely on their Agency. Although Agencies are usually very adept, honest and have the company's interests at heart, they may not be quite as frugal with their client's money. It is wise to hire an inside marketing professional to be your liaison.

5. Companies that lack a leadership approach in their creative and simply follow the same old - same old.

These are just a few examples of the kind of companies that are wasteful when starting up an advertising campaign. Let me say that we are talking about wasteful - no successful.

In fact, many of these companies are major players as well as spenders. That being said, I only wish I had the money they wasted.

So, what are the most wasteful advertising practices that go on day after day?

Let's start with Print.


They're simply not necessary unless the colour of the product is integral to making a sale. ie: fashion collections, paint, wallpaper etc. The fact is, when you take a full page ad, there is no competition. You dominate. Your message is absolutely getting through. Colour ads will serve you much better when you want your ad to stand out on a page filled with ads. Don't get me wrong, I think full page ads say something very important - THIS IS BIG, DON'T MISS OUT! But I believe spending extra money for full colour is generally unwarranted. And really, newsprint colour rarely does justice to the product.


Here's a real money waster. People are driving by at a fair clip, and some companies actually expect them to read sentences, paragraphs and even instructions. Can you believe?
And what's with the 5 point type? Yes, we know it's big when you stand on it, but from the ground....


There may be plenty of talent in the graphic departments of the nation's newspapers, but truth be told, they'll never give you cutting edge creative with font finesse, eye-catching headline and motivating body copy. Why? They simply don't have the time. It's a sausage mill environment typical of most media that offer up free production services. Bottom line - it wastes your money because it lacks impact. It may even lower your customer's perception of your business if the design qualities lack taste.


When it comes to branding, your logo is key! Nothing irks me more than a poorly designed logo. If you plan to be in business a while, invest in a properly designed logo that will inevitably define who you are. If you're looking to build trust, consider a consumer's perspective. Shoddy design = shoddy company.


I say in-direct because that's exactly what it is! Unless it's got the recipient's name and address on the envelope it will more often than not, end up with the dozens of other flyers it is grouped the trash.
When you tally up the cost of designing, printing, and distributing your "in-direct mail" piece into the marketplace, the return on investment is just too low. Always remember. TARGET - TARGET - TARGET your market, otherwise you might as well just throw your money to the wind.

Let's look at money wasters in the RADIO media.

Radio happens to be one of my favorite ways to advertise and for many reasons. But there are companies that just don't understand it well enough to buy it responsibly. And that leads to an inefficient campaign. There are a number of reasons to use radio, but I'll focus on the 2 main reasons.

1. You are introducing yourself or a new product and you want to do some brand building.

2. You are well known and have a fabulous promotion you need to advertise.

Each demands a totally different approach in how you plan to schedule your spots and the number of spots needed. Unfortunately, it can be rather lengthy to explain the many variables in this article so I will site just a few examples.


Building a brand takes time. It makes no sense to buy radio spots every half hour. Slow and easy is the rule here. Several spots spread out over the long term.

My favorite approach is to double my radio budget by buying alternate weeks. You can actually buy 26 weeks of airtime and leave the listener with the impression that you advertise ALL THE TIME - 52 weeks a year! This happens because there is a roll-over effect of your message from week to week and the listener does not have a sense of that time frame. Why buy 52 weeks when you don't need it?


Radio is powerful, but don't expect much action with 1 spot a day. The power is in the frequency. I mean this in reference to planning a large promotion. If you don't get the job done right, you will have wasted your money. 1 spot a day isn't right.

If your budget is limited, what I usually do, is to group my spots over a three day period in the week. This concentration is very effective and the spill-over effect is enhanced if you run a print ad at the same time.


There was a time when 60 second spots dominated the air. As rates rose, 30 seconds became the norm. But today, it may surprise you, but you can get a fabulous response with just 10 and 15 second spots. This approach works even better if you've already run 30 seconds beforehand. The secret here? Listeners who have heard the 30 seconds previously, hear the same global message when they hear the 10 second message. A great way to save money and make a more efficient and effective radio buy.


You may think your radio dollars are reaching your audience in the prime time slots, but here's a surprise for you. You're reaching the same people every day. Now, at first glance that seems like a plan, but think of all the people who never hear your message. If you don't have some exposure between the hours of 10am - 4pm, or 7pm - midnight, you're missing out on 6 hours of audience that may not necessarily be prime time listeners. They could be watching TV, reading the paper, surfing the web or asleep!

Spread your radio spots out. The rates are cheaper, and in many ways more effective.

Being a big believer in brevity, I'll take up more wasteful advertising practices in my next article.

1 comment:

potatomamma said...

Dear Noah

As a freelance artist, I create graphic design and illustrations for various customers. As often seems the case these days, artists also end up getting involved in marketing and PR consulting on top of delivering the artwork, especially with small companies who can't afford big ad agencies.

While I can't claim to have the same power as an ad agency, I support my customers with tips like yours whenever I can. Thanks a lot for sharing, I appreciate your tips and insight! =)