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 Top 10 Advertising Mistakes

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Marketing >> Advertising >> Top 10 Advertising/Mistakes (continued)

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Top 10 Advertising Mistakes (continued)


By: Irin Eschupan

Advertising mistake  #7

Making advertising choices based on price – Pricing is certainly a consideration in where you do your advertising.  But price alone is a lousy criteria for determining the value of any ad space, and an advertising mistake that will cost you far more than the money you think you are saving.  What does matter is their distribution (traffic) and their demographics.  

An expensive ad that gets in front of your audience and generates leads is cheaper per lead than a cheap ad that does absolutely nothing.  Free advertising may not drain your pocketbook, but for the most part it is worth what you pay for it either, and it should not take the place of your paid advertising.  

Business people all want "cheap but effective advertising".  And most of us would prefer to drive a free Lexus as well.  Chances of either happening are about the same.  

Advertising that costs you money, does so because it performs.  Advertising that costs you nothing, does so because it does not.  If it did, they would charge for it.  So if you are still looking for free or cheap advertising, give it a go, and let me know if you find something.  In the meantime, we'll all just sit around and watch your competition rake in the customers while you pat yourself on the back for saving a few bucks.  

Advertising mistake  #8

Cutting advertising corners - New business and small business owners need to watch pennies.  This combined with the inherent risk of advertising and a general resentment against advertising expense, often leads business owners into the huge mistake of cutting corners on the quality of their advertising.  

If you go cheap, you look cheap.  If you do your brochures at home using a bit of WORDART, it doesn't make a good impression.  "Cheap" is the last thing you want your customers and prospects to think about you.  

In the home care services field, it is even more important:  

If you shortcut your self and your own business, what might that be telling your prospect about your attitude towards their family member? 

There are ways to cut corners, but they have to be strategic cuts, not visible ones.  Other articles will be written along these lines, but one such corner that you can cut is to plan your graphics so they can be used in multiple environments without being reproduced.  

A logo that is produced for the Internet will not work well in print.  It is considered low resolution and it is in a format that doesn't translate to print very well.  

However, if you have your graphics designer do a large one and save it in TIF or BMP format, then it can be converted and saved for the web.  You now have two versions for the price of one, and the large one can then be used in or converted to just about every medium there is.  

Advertising mistake  #9

Misunderstanding of ad distribution terminology – Distribution terms very from medium to medium and are often presented to prospective buyers in their best light, especially when the actual distribution of a publication is low. 

Distribution in print copy may be termed as subscribers, circulation, or sometimes as printed copies.  However, printed copies can sit in a warehouse, be distributed for free in an open newsrack, or be thrown away.  How many people saw your ad?  That's the only thing that counts, not how many times they printed it.  If a printed publication is talking to you about number of copies, do not assume this number of people that see the publication.

Distribution in television would be the number of viewers, and in radio, it would be the number of listeners.  However, in both of these mediums, distribution varies tremendously by timeslot, or the time of day.  While “drive-time” is considered to be the most active timeslot for most radio stations, it isn't so good for television. 

On the web, old terminology still exists, and the use of the term “hits” is often used in such a way that the advertiser is led to believe that this would represent actual people, when in fact it only represents the transfer of separate files like a page or an image.  

One page could easily equal dozens of hits.  One person can also view several pages and generate hundreds of hits.  If someone is quoting their “hits” to you, they either don’t understand the terminology or they are trying to impress you with the largest number they can find. They may as well be talking about bits and bytes of data transfer because it's just as relevant to you a the number of "hits" on their site.

The two web terms that you should determine are numbers of “unique visitors” and “pageviews”.  One person can visit a site 10 times per day and be considered 10 visitors.  However, he is only one “unique visitor”.  Measuring unique visitors is the most accurate way to compare which websites have the broadest distribution.  So what if one person comes back to the site 10 times per day?  It's still one person and only one chance to do business with them.  You want to know how many unique people are represented.

Pageviews are the number of pages that are actually accessed by all the people who visited that site.  If the average is close to one pageview per visitor, it could be that most people are ending up there by mistake for one reason or another.  Some visitors will only look at one page and this of course brings the average down.  So look for sites that average 2-3 pageviews per visitor or more and you will probably have found a site that most people find valuable.  

Conversely, if the site has pageviews per visitor in the neighborhood of 10 or more, check to see if there is something like a forum where people come back time after time and see many pages.  If this is how they count their pageviews, advertising here (at least on that basis) is probably a mistake.

Advertising mistake  #10

Verification of distribution – Each media company within each industry measures its own distribution and reports this number to the sales division.  This is the basis by which they determine their pricing levels to advertisers.  However, what is to prevent these organizations from inflating their own numbers when reporting them to clients?  Actually, not much!  

This is where an awful lot of advertisers make their mistakes.  They don't use their heads when ad ad rep tells them that this tiny website will send them tons of traffic. 

If you are a top media buyer, you can certainly buy membership with auditing and consumer media measurement companies that will allow you access to third party information, but this can get to be fairly expensive and it only applies to print and broadcast media.  Most home care services companies cannot afford the $40,000 per year membership fee, just to access this data..

However, these reports are the lifeblood of most broadcast and print media, and they are known to provide fairly accurate information if they are asked.  In most cases, the broadcaster will give you a comparison sheet to show what demographics they appeal to and therefore, why you should buy their product vs. that of the competition.  

On the Internet, distribution (visitors) becomes much harder to verify.  There are no independent organizations that audit website statistical information, and no website is going to let anyone have walk-in access to their server backend.  Visitors can do damage to the site and cost thousands of dollars by mistake.

Newsletter advertising is even harder to measure.  Again, no company is going to give you access to their list so that you can count them. 

You are pretty much left to common sense and trial and error when advertising on the Internet.  Does the website look like it has enough quality and information to attract users, or is it pretty much a dud?  

Portals that have no original content of their own, generally have very poor traffic.  Small sites may be great, but there is little to attract visitors.  Does the site have a variety of information on it?  Visitors may come to a large site for one reason and stay for another.  

Look at the site closely.  If nobody else is advertising there or if the only ads on the site look to be affiliate ads, don't get your hopes up.  

Avoiding mistakes on the web

Do your own research on the domain as well.  Visit and do a lookup to see when the domain was registered.  If the site is only a year old but claims 50,000 newsletter subscribers, a red flag should go up for you. 

If you don’t have it already, download the Google toolbar ( and let the PageRank tool be active.  When you arrive at any given page, the PageRank bar will show anywhere from all white to all green and if you hold your cursor over the bar, it will give you number between 0-10.  

Any site showing 3 or less that claims a lot of traffic probably isn’t being truthful.  A PageRank of 5-6 is pretty average to above average, and you are rarely going to find a 7 or above.  A PageRank of 8-9 are generally only seen on VERY popular sites or main federal government sites.  Ebay only ranks a PageRank of 8.  A PageRank of 10 is virtually impossible to find outside of Yahoo, Google, and a few government sites.  If someone is claiming 30,000 visitors per month and they only have a PageRank of 3, you can bet somebody is making something up.

Do NOT depend strictly on this information to make determinations as PageRank is not an indicator of the number of visitors.  PageRank can help rule out sites, but it cannot tell you if something is worthwhile.

You can also check your information on  This is a site owned and operated by Amazon and it is free to use.  Enter the full domain name you wish to check on into the Alexa search box and do not include the www part (ex.  You will come up with a 3-month average rank.  This is much like class rank or golf, so the lower the number, the better. 

Alexa measures the top 10 million or so websites in the world by measuring the use patterns of several million users.  Going from an Alexa score of 5 million down to 1 million isn’t too hard to do.  However, when you are at 100,000, dropping even 10,000 points is a major success.  

Sites in the 300,000 or above range, probably aren’t really worth any consideration.  With an average in the 100,000-300,000 range, things are improving but still be watchful, and don’t put much into it until you’ve tested the water.  Sites under 100,000 are doing pretty well and you can consider that the traffic is superior to most. 

These and your common sense are the tools that you need to become familiar with and use to make decisions on advertising.  

Marketing >> Advertising >> Top 10 Advertising/Mistakes (continued)





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