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Is There Horse Meat In Your Marketing? 5 Things That Could Be Contaminating Your Advertising.

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At first, the current horse meat scandal gave something for people to laugh quite heartily about. People exploded on the Twitterverse with jokes that were, admittedly, fairly tongue-in-cheek, but nonetheless bought a chuckle to us all here in the Mediahawk offices. Now it’s exploded into a Europe-wide scandal that has left many corporations trying to take some sort of action in the reputation-management department.

To me, this represents the perfect metaphor for marketing. There are certain “contaminants” that, if found in your advertising, whether it be 10% or 90% of its meaty structure, can cause it to flop or even give you a negative response in the public domain.

I want to highlight the 5 biggest advertising contaminants that often go undetected by many marketers, and show you what you can do to make sure they’re never tasted by your prospects again.

Contaminant #1: Lack of a clear Call-To-Action

The amount of times I’ve seen Plain-Jane advertising often surprises me. Just the other day I drove past a billboard for a local curtain and blinds company that disrupted my inner-marketing chi. All that was presented to me, the prospect, was a big image of a nicely decorated lounge with some stylish looking blinds, and in the foreground? The business’ logo and a strap-line – that was it.

This doesn’t just happen on billboards – I see it in magazines, flyers, PPC ads and on business’ web pages. This can leave a bad taste in the mouth of someone trying to discover what it is they are meant to do or what action they need to take next.

Decontamination Tip: Before you set out to create any marketing campaign or advert, be sure you’re 100% clear on what the core purpose of that advert or overall strategy is. If you’re trying to gain leads, offer them something for free – whether it be a consultation, whitepaper or other “freemium”.

Do you want them to pick up the phone and buy from you immediately? Give them a compelling offer that they simply can’t refuse. Whatever it may be, make sure it specifically contributes to your overall strategy.

Contaminant #2: Bad Message-to-Market Match

You might have a great message that has all the winning elements of good advertising: great copy, compelling offer, urgency etc. – but when it comes to publishing and waiting for the response, nothing comes.

This could have happened for one of many reasons. Maybe the offer wasn’t as compelling as you thought? Perhaps the headline didn’t grab attention and the reader/listener/watcher got bored and moved on?

More likely, especially if you believe you created an offer that’s truly compelling, is that this message is being shown to the wrong people. You can have the best message in the world but if it falls on the wrong ears then even the most genius of adverts can fail.

Decontamination Tip: Be sure to profile your target prospect in as much detail as possible. Where do they live, how old are they, how much do they earn a year, what cars do they drive and, most importantly, which publications do they read? That last question could also be re-structured as “where do they go?” Take the time to discover exactly how you can get in front of them.

Contaminant #3: Lack of Creativity

This one is particularly aimed at slightly more niche industries, but can be found in every aspect of business. What I’m talking about is the copy-cat zeitgeist that businesses often fall for. Many marketers feel they need to be doing something just because their competitors are and it’s a fatal mistake – especially if what they’re doing is wrong.

The result this brings? All advertising messages look the same, giving a lack of differentiation in the market. The way the adverts are structured, the language and phrases used are often very similar. Even the colours and graphics can often be alike!

Decontamination Tip: Be more creative. Dare to go outside of what the rest of your business category does. Borrow creative elements that have worked for other industries and apply it to your own. The bottom line is: try to find more ways to grab your prospect’s attention, reel them in with educational marketing and awe them with truly lovable advertising.

Contaminant #4: Too much “Me-ism”

One of my favourite marketing quotes of all time has to be: “Your customers and prospective customers don’t care about what you do; they care about what you can do for them.”

Are you talking about how long you’ve been in business for, how you’re “the best in the industry” or even giving some swish sounding 5 worded strap-lines in your marketing messages?

Taglines can be great for massaging one’s ego but does little for increasing advertising response. The final creation is incredibly unfocused and often leaves prospects asking “so what”?

Decontamination Tip: Focus on the real reasons that make your product or service great. Your message should be focused on the benefit it brings to your customer. Do you really need to include the number of years you’ve been in business as part of your message? Fine – but communicate exactly why that’s a true benefit to me.

Contaminant #5: Lack of Measurement

This is one that we hold dear to our hearts, and is by far the most important. Many businesses wonder why their marketing efforts don’t get a good response, without ever really knowing whether or not this is truly the case. There’s often a lack of tracking and measurement that will give you the insight and metrics you need to know.

This one is actually a behind-the-scenes error. Have you given each particular piece of advertising a unique method of tracking its performance? If not, how do you know whether or not they’re truly working?

Decontamination Tip: Start investing in unique URL’s and phone numbers. It doesn’t take very long to register a new domain that will re-direct straight to your landing page, and with incredibly affordable call tracking technologies available to you it’s now even easier to track your telephone response, too. With this kind of system in place you can easily discover where to focus your future marketing efforts and cut costs dramatically.

There are many more contaminants we’ve left off of this list, and although we feel these are the key 5, are there any big ones you think we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments below and get involved with the conversation.

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