9 Sins of Advertising

Develop an effective advertising strategy and avoid these costly blunders
9 Sins of Advertising
Tell your customers how new equipment will benefit them by making your service faster, more accurate or less expensive.

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“Advertising must generate more in business profit than it costs,” says Tom Egelhoff, president of Eagle Marketing and author of How To Market, Advertise & Promote Your Business Or Service In A Small Town

If that’s not happening, something is wrong with a your advertising strategy. Egelhoff identifies nine ways you’re screwing up your advertising plan, and top strategies to help you avoid those advertising errors. 

1. Track your advertising

“Don’t throw out advertising and pray it works,” Egelhoff says. “Track results so you can adjust advertising to be more productive.” 

He recommends you key your ads so you know what is drawing customer response. If customers respond to an email offer, for example, the advertising is working. Or offer a free inspection or estimate in print ads, but no where else, so you'll know where new customers heard about you.

2. Stick with an ad strategy that works

“An ad that may seem old to you may not be old to others,” Egelhoff says. “Chances are, many people are seeing it for the first time, because they only look for your ad when they need your service. 

“Use advertising to test new products and services from time to time, but keep the look of advertising consistent when you do.” 

3. Know when to advertise

“Don’t spread your advertising dollars evenly over the entire year,” Egelhoff says. “That’s how we budget expenses, not investments.” 

He recommends plumbing contractors maintain an advertising reserve fund for special situations, such as notifying customers of inspection services after floods, or to combat a competitor’s successful promotion. 

4. Advertise in the right place

“Construct a profile of customers in your target market,” Egelhoff says. Understand the media your potential customers are using and use those avenues to reach them. Direct mail and email blasts can be very specifically targeted, and email offers are a great way to stay in contact with current customers. If your target market primarily gets its news online, that inexpensive 30-second spot on the late local news might not be such a bargain.

5. Advertise your uniqueness

“Advertise what made you successful,” Egelhoff says. “Instead of changing focus, strengthen the niche that’s gotten you where you are and position your business away from your competition.” 

6. Create a consistent visual image

“Logo, colors, and even the language of your advertising messages should have a consistent look and feel,” Egelhoff says. Whether its your website, e-newsletters or print ads, keep your look and message consistent. 

7. Don’t sacrifice loyal customers for new ones

“It takes far more effort to attract new customers than to keep existing ones,” Egelhoff says. “Don’t spend significant amounts on advertising to attract new customers, if you’re ignoring the loyal customers who made your business successful.” 

8. Find out what works for others

“You can’t call direct competitors,” Egelhoff says. “But you might consult with other businesses in a related industry or find similar businesses in comparable markets and ask what sort of advertising works best for them."

Trade shows like the Water & Wastewater Equipment, Treatment & Transport Show are a great way to network and learn what's working for your peers.

9. Concentrate on benefits

“Evaluate every service you offer to identify the real benefit to the customer and highlight those benefits in your ads,” Egelhoff says. 

Tell your customers how new equipment will benefit them by making your service faster, more accurate or less expensive.”


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