The Two Biggest Mistakes In Planning An Ad

mistakesFor more than a decade I created ads for clients on three continents. In all that time, I’d estimate that 80% of clients start off doing one of two horrible mistakes, which I call backing into the ad and option overload.

Backing Into The Ad

“Here’s my company/product. I need an ad.”

It seems logical to begin here… if you make the product. Your world revolves around your product. But as an advertiser, you’re working the problem from the wrong direction.

People don’t care about your product. And they won’t until you give them a reason to… and that reason has very little to do with the bells and whistles of your product. What they care about is the thousand tiny problems and three or four big problems that are coming at them at this particular point in time.

So, as an advertiser your starting place should be:

“Here’s what I want people to do. Here’s why in the world they’d do it. I need an ad.”

Option Overload

In a recent post, I talked about the only six reasons to ever run an ad. The temptation: “Only six? Awesome! Let’s make an ad. I want them to do all six!”

I get it. You’re not going to get everyone to call and place the order; let’s capture the rest so no one falls through the cracks.

The problem is, only a fraction of readers is going to do what you want them to do. And every option you give them reduces that fraction by 50%. If you’re ad as going to convert 5% of total readership, when you implore them to “Call now to place your order! Or visit us online to learn more! Of follow us on facebook!”… you have cut that response in half twice. You had five percent. You cut it in have to 2.5%. Then you cut it in half again to 1.25%, spread across all three options. So that’s about 0.42% calling and speaking to a sales rep, instead of 5%. Except that most will take the easiest of the two options and visit your website or like your facebook page. So less than that, really.


Tattoo this on the back of whichever hand you write with:

one ad. one action.

Pick the reason you’re creating the ad. Pick the action you want them to take. Tell them why it’s in their best interest and give them the information they need to convince themselves that it’s the only course of action worth taking. Take a gut check and let that one action have the spotlight alone.

Do this, and your ad will be more compelling and more effective than 85% of the ads out there.

Danny Thompson is Associate Publisher and Business Marketing Specialist for H&F Media Group’s “Outdoor Lifestyle” family of magazines, Specifically, Gone Outdoors, distributed nationally and Alabama Active, the company’s first regionally targeted publication. If your market includes fit, active, affluent people– either nationwide or locally in and around Alabama– who like to travel, call Danny now. (205) 733-1343