5 old-world advertising mistakes to avoid

How can I make my advertising more effective?

Digital technology has delivered one of the Internet’s great promises to marketing, the democratisation of information, opportunity and capability, allowing any brand to run an effective campaign and punch above its own weight. We’ve had to wait a long time for the pieces to fall into place and there are still puzzles to solve, but organisations of any size can now launch targeted, integrated, measurable digital marketing campaigns according to their budget. So much has changed, and yet, some of today’s marketers continue to make the mistakes of the print media generation. Do any of these sound familiar?

Buying the same media time after time – There used to be a time when some brands would become known as an advertiser in one publication or another (eg. a ‘Gulf News advertiser’ or a ‘Khaleej Times advertiser’). Sometimes it was due to the discounts, sometimes it was the advertiser’s relationship with the media sales team, sometimes it was a publication’s ‘prestige’ and sometimes it was actually due to results. Often, simply ‘building on what we did last quarter’ is the path of least resistance. However, this can also be the path to diminishing returns. Consumer behaviour and digital marketing techniques changing faster than ever before. Don’t fall in love with one channel or tactic and fail to notice that your audience has moved on.

Buying media based on personal preferences – Everyone’s more knowledgeable about their own preferred media and there’s always been an element of pride for management to see their brand’s ads or content appear in their favourite media. I can’t count the times that we’ve been asked to include certain media option because it’s the CEO’s favourite. These days’ media preferences are becoming more and more atomised as consumers pick and choose their sources of information based on their own individual needs and tastes: I’d argue, needs and tastes that won’t necessarily be in sync with your CEO’s (nor your social media coordinator’s, for that matter).

Choosing the easiest media options – Some publishers and broadcasters have made fortunes by making it as easy and as hassle free for a buyer to advertise. And, of course, that’s exactly how it should be: unless the ‘anything for an easy life’ choices encourage you to skip more effective media and tactics. Facebook has made it so easy to advertise that least qualified person in the company can start a Facebook marketing campaign. And that’s part of the problem. ‘Easy’ rarely does the whole job and apparently ‘simple’ campaigns normally require some complexity underneath to make them work effectively. If it sounds too good to be true, it very often is.

Investing in one platform for ‘focus’ – Having spent many years offering traditional PR services such as press releases, ghost-writing editorials and arranging media interviews for clients, we’ve often been on the receiving end of a reallocated media advertising budget. We’ve literally been told many times ‘we tried advertising last year and so this year we thought we’d try PR’. This thinking persists today as companies flip from one marketing channel or discipline to another, looking for a silver bullet. The choice of options may seem overwhelming, but there’s reason to be cautious of any advice that recommends a single channel communications strategy. If your campaign is not multi-channel, there’s probably something wrong with it.

Spending all the budget on media placement – In the early days of Middle East advertising, media often volunteered to create client advertising creatives for free in return for the media spend. The practice resulted in some abominable advertisements, but it still took the creative industries many years to educate advertisers that they needed to pay for creative work. Many would think this is no longer an issue today (in our dynamic, sophisticated, multi-channel, data-driven marketing environment!). However, digital marketing campaigns can prove to be very time intensive and, if that’s the time of your marketing agency, that time comes with a price tag that’s hard to ignore. New marketing tools to help make creating campaigns less time consuming are being introduced continually, but for brands that want to differentiate themselves and drive results, there is always work to do and that’s work ideally done by professionals.

It can seem easy at the time to let the wrong assumptions go unchallenged, in particular when they come from key internal stakeholders. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that those same technologies that make it quick and easy to start an effective marketing campaign, can make it faster and easier still to waste your marketing dollars when that campaign is misdirected.

If you need advice on how to plan and structure your brand’s digital marketing effort, you’re welcome to contact me on carringtonm@spotonpr.com.

Read more about marketing

Why you need a media neutral strategy (November 2013)

The problem with content (August 2013)

Time to revisit your brand positioning? (July 2013)

Counting clicks (June 2013)

Are you being genuine? (May 2013)

Marketing after the click (March 2013)

Social media marketing in the UAE (February 2012)

Should you outsource your conversation? (January 2011)

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Carrington Malin

About the Author ()

Carrington Malin is co-founder of Spot On and has been managing sales, marketing, media and communications campaigns across the Middle East for more than 20 years. He likes technology, surfing and chicken liver salad. You can contact Carrington via Twitter at @carringtonmalin or via his website www.carringtonmalin.com

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