Monday, August 16, 2010

5 Signs That Your Advertising Sucks

The first rule of investing is: Don't lose money.

And the first rule of advertising is: Don't suck.

Yet, most investors lose money. And most advertising sucks.

Now. I can't help you with the investments you make in the stock market.

But I can help you with the best investment you can make in your business, which is your advertising.

Because advertising offers the ultimate leverage. Done right, it is effective salesmanship multiplied. There's no limit to how big you can grow, if you plow revenues from winning ads back into more ads.

Done wrong, however, your ads will suck. And they will cost you money.

Good news: Your ads don't have to suck.

In fact, you can fix 5 of the most-common advertising mistakes rather easily.

Here they are ...

1) No headline, or a clever headline

Want to see why most businesses are struggling to sell anything? Open any copy of your local Business Journal or other business magazine.

You'll see ads with headlines like this one:


What are these clever people selling?

Shovels? Grave-digging?

They're selling banking services. At least, I think so. But I'm not sure, because they commit mistake #2 ...

2) No offer

An offer is simply this: Something you give people in exchange for their time and/or money.

Look at the bottom of ad above. That's a NON-offer: Call 1-800-908-BANK or visit

What do I get for my phone call or web site visit? Nothing. So, no offer.

Now, here's an offer: Free Business Success Library ($50 value) when you Call 1-800-908-BANK or visit

Make more offers and your ads will fail less often.

3) More we than you

Count how many times words like these appear in your ad: we, our, I, me, my, mine.

Now count these words: you, your, yours.

The "you" words should outweigh the "we" by at least 9 to 1.

Any more "we" in your ads and prospects won't care. Because they don't care about you, the merchant. They care about ME, the person with the problem your product or service will solve.

Speak to your prospects directly by emphasizing YOU in your ads.

4) Using any of these hackneyed terms:
  • Full-service! (As opposed to self service? No service?)
  • Lowest price! (Good luck going head-to-head with Wal*Mart)
  • Biggest selection! (Bigger than Amazon? EBay? Really?)
  • Highest quality! (No thanks, I'd prefer crap)

5) No urgency

Nothing compels action like a deadline. That, along with reduced prices, is why sales work so well -- they always have an ending, like Midnight Tonight, or August 13, 2010.

How can you inject urgency in your next sales letter?

What plausible reason can you give prospects to buy now -- right NOW?

(Kevin M. Donlin is author of the Special Report, Guaranteed Marketing for Small Business Professionals.)


  1. Amen! It is amazing how many "old school" Madmen are still out there with their TOMA mentality.

    I had no idea there was a bigger Seth Godin devotee out there than myself!

    I am fast becoming a Kevin Donlin devotee too...

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