Why Does "Good" Advertising Sometimes Fail?

by Bill Glazer | February 27, 2011

"Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime. Teach a man to create an artificial shortage of fish and he will eat steak." - Jay Leno

At least once a month, I get a question from a Member who sends me their advertising to critique for them where they received lousy results. They might have sent me a direct mail piece that they developed or one of mine that they copied that failed miserably and want to know why.

I was particularly reminded of this at one event I was speaking at when a jewelry retailer approached me with... "Bill, make sure you continue to make the Thanksgiving cards available to us GKIC Members, I used it last year and it was one of the BEST things I did." This amused me because just a couple of months back, I received a rather nasty note from another jewelry retailer who tried the Thanksgiving Promotion and reported a lousy response.

So, today I'm going to talk about why some advertising succeeds for some and not for others. Or in other words...
... .why does "good" advertising sometimes fail?

A lot of people don't know it, but when I started in business many years ago I used a traditional advertising agency for my own Menswear business. By "traditional advertising agency" I mean what agencies typically do, which is typically nothing. Oh, agencies have plenty of buzzword terms for the non-trackable, less-accountable work they do: "brand building," "image enhancement," "name recognition," ...yeah, whatever!

I quickly learned their work was only good for the agency and their checking account, and ultimately bad for my store. But beyond the inherent failure of bad advertising, there's a reason why even good advertising fails more often than not, and here it is: The business views it as an entire marketing, customer acquisition, development, retention and multiplication process.

Advertising as a stand-alone strategy is like a single guy with a plastic, surgically-made face and a liposuction-sculpted body in an Armani suit, hitting the singles bar--but living in a studio apartment with his grandmother and having lost both testicles in the war. What's the point? Where's the functionality?

What Can Advertising Do?

First of all, advertising can attract attention. Newspaper, radio, TV, billboards, balloons, even cleverly painted vehicles are all media capable of grabbing attention.

Second, if given enough investment of time and money, advertising can create "brand awareness," even "brand preference", which will impact consumers' buying behavior. But this has so little relevance to YOUR kind of business. It isn't even worth thinking about. You have neither the money nor the time to succeed via brand building. You must be militant and ignore any and all advice about advertising based on this premise. It's as irrelevant to you as automobile maintenance is to a mountain goat.

Third, advertising can entertain and amuse people. A lot of advertising does just that and nothing more. Why else do we salivate every January, waiting for the new crop of Superbowl TV commercials to air? ... just so we can rate them. Which one has the most shock value? Which one makes us laugh hardest? Which one is cute and makes us say "aw-w-w-w-w-w...?" Advertising like this, too, is useless and should be avoided like a movie theater seat next to Pee Wee Herman.

The better question here is what is the fourth thing advertising can do?

It can generate leads for potential customers. This is the only thing about advertising that should interest you.

And here is the most important message: What advertising cannot do is successfully convince the prospects that they should give you money. It's just too big a job to be done in one leap, by one thing, namely, your ad. And all attempts to force advertising to do so much more than it can do will lead to failure.

So, if you're doing good emotional direct response advertising look somewhere else before you start throwing the blame on the advertising. This is a great time to be asking your customers what you are doing wrong. Do you have the wrong products? Are you delivering lousy service? Is your store in a bad location? Do you have employees that are not getting the job done? Or perhaps most importantly, does the problem resonate with Y-O-U!!!

But here's the good news. Now, I'm not sure that a bunch of you will really view this as good news, but it really is good news. The good news is that if you are delivering good advertising and receiving lousy results, the good advertising is really accomplishing a very important job. It is letting you know quickly that you have a problem elsewhere in your business that needs fixing ASAP.

Bill Glazer, one of the most celebrated Marketing Gurus in the world, who along with the legendary Dan Kennedy have teamed up to provide advice to over 130,000 entrepreneurs worldwide in every possible industry and profession. Bill is a professional speaker, marketing consultant and coach, and a much sought-after copywriter. His book, "OUTRAGEOUS Advertising That's OUTRAGEOUSLY Successful," made four Best Seller's lists shortly after it's release in 2009.

Glazer-Kenndey Insiders Circle, owned and operated by internationally known marketing personalities Dan Kennedy and Bill Glazer, is THE place where truly smart, progressive, aggressive entrepreneurs with a love for marketing, a sincere desire to get rich and richer (with no apologies for doing so), and an optimistic, forward-looking attitude, gather' to exchange and share timely information and "what's working today" strategies and examples. Get Bill Glazer's #1 Bestselling Book, "Outrageous Advertising" for FREE. Click here.

Chia-Li Chien, CFP®, CRPC, PMP; helps entrepreneurs to creating business value that transforms their world.  She is the author of Show Me The Money and columnist for WomenEntrepreneur.com & Fox Business online.   She is available for consulting, speaking engagements and workshops.  She can be reached at http://www.chialichien.com or jolly@chialichien.com.


Leave a comment

Security code