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7 Egregious Errors Most Entrepreneurs Make When it Comes to Advertising

I was just settling down with my neighborhood “rag” magazine and couldn’t even get past page 2 without startling marketing missteps slapping me in the face! Here are the most egregious errors and the easy way to fix them.

Feel free share your pet peeves in the comments below:

  1. Touting Experience And Quality – I assume you have these qualities to survive in business, but they are not differentiators, brand builders, or buzz catchers. No one jumps up and down saying, “OMG you must meet my dentist: she has experience and quality.”  Try listening to your customers to hear what they are really saying. My mantra is: Speak Like Your Peeps!

  2. Employing Acronyms in a Headline – “There’s nowhere in San Diego quite like RAPA.” Unless I’m rapping down the street, I have no idea what this acronym is. Stop assuming that I follow your brand and ads so well that I will figure it out. If your brand is so long and cumbersome that you need to refer to it as initials, you have the wrong brand!

  3. Letting Form Overwhelm Function – Oh, how cute:  A company has written its name in the sand. The problem? I can’t read it. I simply turned the page! Test to make sure your material is legible.

  4. “Deer in the Headlights Headshot” – If you haven’t gotten around to revising your photos, now is the time. (Hint: contact Stefanie)  Until you do, please don’t market with your outdated, home photo taken 20 years and 20 lbs. ago!

  5. Copy-Heavy Ads – Don’t cram every possible benefit of your service s into one small space. Remember: negative space makes for a positive ad.

  6. Stealing Copy – Every time I see an ad such as “got junk?” I cringe. Why? Because It makes me think of another brand. You can’t use “stop the insanity” because it reminds me of Susan Powter. Even if it’s not trademark infringement, it’s mindshare infringement! Unique brands use unique phrases.And, even though it was not in the magazine, my #1 pet peeve from realtors:

  7. Dropping Off Cheap Marketing Materials at My Door – How do real estate agents think that littering my front door with a flimsy, home printed tri-fold “brochure” will make me invest in selling my most precious asset is beyond me! If you don’t invest in your business, how do you expect your customers to invest in you? I can give you hundreds of better ways to boost mindshare without resorting to this tactic.

Is advertising even the right move for you?

BUT, let me ask you the most important question: Is advertising even the right marketing vehicle for you? For most small businesses, it isn’t. When was the last time you found your doctor from an ad?  If you don’t find service providers that way, why do you think others will?

Add your irks, grievances, annoyances too below:

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at
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