18 Mistakes Your Competitors are Making with Their Display Ads

 In Advertising, Blog Post, Hank Yuloff

Each month, we do free 90-minute marketing workshops for 5 different chambers of commerce. At those events, we always advertise a set topic (social media, website improvements, direct mail, elevator speeches, etc.) and leave the floor open to answer any marketing questions that an attendee brings into the room.

The other day we were teaching one of our Monthly Marketing Mondays for a local chamber of commerce and a woman that works for a local governmental agency walked in with printed materials that she wanted critiqued. As I went through their ‘ads’, I realized that while designing display ads is second nature to me, most business owners are at the mercy of their own desk-top publishing program that is supposed to make it so easy they don’t need a graphic artist.

The challenge there is that those programs do not come with a marketing brain.

As is so often the case with our blog, we make marketing checklists of ways to improve what you are doing with your marketing. So let’s take a look at 18 mistakes your competitors are making with their display ads.

The Marketing Checklist Episode 237 re display ads

[If you'd rather listen to our radio show about this topic instead of reading, please check out Episode 237]

For purposes of this blog, a display ad is not necessarily an ad that is appearing in a publication. Your ad is a graphic representation of your business that you are using to sell your product or services. It could be a flyer you are asking stores to put in their window, or sell sheets that go in your sales folder, or, an actual display ad that you are running in a publication. Or it could even be on your vehicle (see the image below). The concept remains the same whether your display ad is online or offline in a publication.

There are two types of ads: Industrial or Institutional ads and Active ads.

The institutional ads are static. The information is not dated. This might be the ad you put in a chamber of commerce directory, a ‘yellow page’ type book, or website.

The active ads are time sensitive because they have an offer assigned to them. It might be a BOGO offer (buy one, get one free) that you are running on a particular day. Or maybe be an event that is coming up. Maybe even something like what we do at chamber installation dinners. We put in the ad that if they text my number doing the event, they get a $100 Off coupon for promotional products. That is how we attend a ‘stuffy’ event like a chamber dinner and turn it into a revenue generator.

Let’s take a look at your competitors' biggest mistakes.

The biggest mistake most small business owners make: They start by putting their logo at the top.

I can see how. The entrepreneur has to create an ad and they begin with a blank canvas. They need to start somehow and putting their logo at the top is the most simple way to begin.

But here is the challenge: When our target market sees our ads, they are not thinking “WOW, that Yuloff Creative logo is SO beautiful, I want to work with them.” Actually, they are thinking: “WIIFM?” (What’s In It For Me?). We need to give them something to capture their attention. A headline that gives them an offer. Our logos do not do that. Your logo goes at the bottom. When the offer is strong enough, they will scan down to the bottom to see whose ad it is. We are taught to read left to right, then down in a Z pattern. Therefore, the offer must be at the top, the supporting benefits go below the offer, and how to redeem the offer goes at the bottom.

This leads to the second biggest mistake most small business owners make with their display ads: They forget Steven Covey’s rule to “Begin with the end in mind.”

In other words, they design the ad for themselves, not who they are trying to attract with it. Always remember, what do we want the ad to do? How can we best make that happen?

Third biggest mistake most small business owners make with their display ads is that they forget that not everyone who is going to read the ad is their target market. Shocking, huh?

Not everyone is our potential client.

If you remember to “Begin with the end in mind”, your ad will be more effective when you make sure that the ad is only speaking to the right people, your ideal client.

There are lots of other mistakes most small business owners make with their ads:

They do it themselves.

I love the fact that a lot of people love to do their own ads. However, the bottom line is that hiring a graphic artist to do your display ads is generally a great investment. They will give you ideas on how to present your product and service that may be new and effective.

Their logo sits at the top and takes up too much room.

Let’s say you ignored Biggest Mistake Number One and put your logo at the top. How much room is it taking up? We saw an ad from a mortgage broker whose logo is the top third of their display ad. This doesn't leave enough space to list their benefits to the people who call them. The thing is, this office is amazing. They get incredible reviews from the people they help achieve their dream of home ownership. But they could help more people with a more effective display ad.

The ad we have included on the left is an example of several of these mistakes DONE CORRECTLY. There is a headline that captures the attention of business people (you can tell by the photo) who need head shots. Then there is a great offer (more details on this below). Finally, the instructions on how to get the great offer are at the bottom.

They don’t put a headline at the top that will attract attention.

Remember that we want to capture your ideal clients attention. Heck, at the top of this blog we used a headline to capture your attention. We wanted to get your attention if you are creating display ads yourself becuase we wanted to help you improve your ads. How else can we help you? Get connected with us at FreeMarketingConsultation.com and we can review your display ads and provide at least 1 actionable tip.

They don’t put a headline at the top that will attract attention of the right people.

Now that we have a headline at the top, is it attracting the right people? We want to put the right message in the right place using the right tactics so that when your ideal client needs you, your messages are already there.

Their offer sucks.

Let me ask you something. If you had a favorite Italian restaurant that always took care of you and had an amazing menu, would you be easily tempted to try another Italian restaurant for a 10% discount? How about 25%? 50%? What would make you try another restaurant? Your offer has to be incredible in order to get your potential clients to change their habits and use you instead of your competitor.

They forget to put in the right contact info.

Make sure you put the best contact information in the ad. Hey, here is a photo of a truck that had an ad on it. The website URL is wrong and there is no area code next to the phone number. How will that ad work if the wrong information is in the ad?

They put too much into their display ad…

…and don’t leave enough white space. When I was newly out of school, I worked for a direct mail shopper. I had several clients that sold furniture to working class families. It was inexpensive merchandise and the owners of the stores felt that they had to use every square inch of their display ads to put in features of the products they sold. The size of the furniture, the materials used, the regular price, the sale price and most important, how much the purchaser saved by buying NOW.

They put too little in their display ads…

…and their target market does not see ‘what’s in it for me.’ On the other side of the ‘Too much copy’ coin is the too little copy mistake. Most often this will be institutional ad copy which wants to set an image in the minds of the target market. Most small business owners need to have enough information to capture attention.

They don’t put in the right information.

Information about you is great. But remember the WIIFM equation and put the info in that your target market needs to make a buying decision.

Their display ads do not look consistently the same.

All your ads must be similar. They should have the same design elements. When I looked in the LA Times at Macy’s ads, it was completely obvious which ad was from Macy’s. Use the same typefaces, the same style, same border types, same photo types all the time, every time.

They don’t pay attention to the display ads around theirs.

When your ad is going to appear in a publication, you should know what kind of ads are going to appear around yours. We have been known to run our ads upside down in a Chamber of Commerce directory just to capture attention. If you are going to have competitors near your ad, pay attention to the ads they run in other places.

They don’t design their display ads for the specific place the ads are going to appear.

Ads in publications, ads on the internet and ads in direct mail will all have different specifications that you must meet. Heck, even if it is the ad in front of your store. We have done an entire blog about store signage. On the left is a BEFORE/AFTER of a sign we designed for 360 Automotive. On the top one, we highlighted her guarantee and made it much easier to read. You can barely read their old one down below.

The copy is too technical for their ideal client.

They have to be explained with other display ads. Make sure that the information in your ads is appropriate for the target audience. Explain the technical terms. Don’t take for granted that your potential clients know your terminology.

They don’t know how to figure out when a display ad has ‘paid for itself.’

If an ad costs $500 you did not break even if you only bring in $500 from this ad. That just paid for the ad. It did not include your costs of goods and your profit. Your general Rule of Thumb is 4 to 1. In this example, you are at $2,000 to break even.

They lead with price and nothing else.

This happens in email marketing. The subject line is your headline. I get emails in the promo world all the time that read ‘$7 Super Sale Price.' Compare that to an email I got from Yoast this morning with the headline “6 Tips to Grow Your Audience.”

Your display ads are your lifeblood.

You will be sending your message out to thousands of potential clients every day on social media, in print and online. Remember to make them speak to your favorite target market and give them a reason to connect with you.

If you would like some help, connect with us at www.FreeMarketingConsultation.com and you will have a free 30-minute strategy session where you will receive at least 1 actionable tip you can put into practice right away.

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