8 Marketing Mistakes that are Wasting Your Ad Budget


Here in the United States, 2019 marks a major milestone where digital advertising is expected to surpass traditional ad spend for the first time. eMarketer reports that digital ad spend is forecasted to hit $129.34 billion, making up more than half of the overall expected spend. These surging ad figures are certainly compelling. But what often gets under-reported is the percentage of those dollars that produced little or no return.

So how do you keep your ad dollars on track and accountable?

“Strategic and effective advertising takes forethought, insight, and planning,” says Ethos Brand Strategist Glenn Rudberg. “Marketers need to start thinking less about impressions and more about brand engagement and sharing.”

Ad campaigns today require a comprehensive, integrated strategy that includes a fully realized brand identity, a highly functional website, and a smart social media and engagement strategy. Understanding and avoiding these 8 common advertising mistakes can help you keep your campaign on track.

8 Common Advertising Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

  1. Letting your best ad define your brand.

While it can be tempting to build a brand based on a killer ad, a more strategic way to approach advertising is to fully develop the a killer brand first. Start by identifying the brand promise, positioning statement and communication platform – then let the brand’s core truths inform the creation of a relevant and engaging ad campaign.

  1. Expecting advertising alone to increase sales.

Although the two are commonly confused, advertising and promotion are two very different marketing strategies. While advertising is used to build long-term awareness and brand equity, effective promotion typically drives short-term sales. Be careful not to be too promotion-centric, though. Using coupons every quarter may drive sales, but it does nothing to increase the love for your brand.

  1. Using advertising as a one-way conversation.

While traditional advertising mediums (TV, radio, print) tend to be one-way forms of communication, in order to foster engagement with your audience, it’s important to build an integrated communications approach that includes social media, PR, digital media and other platforms that prompt two-way communication so that you can receive feedback from your target audience in real time.

  1. Believing that more/bigger/bolder is always better.

Advertising today is a whole different ballgame than the highly produced broadcast ads of the past. Don’t’ be afraid to be different. Go left when everybody else is going right. Bigger and louder isn’t the only way to stand out anymore.

  1. Telling your audience what they want to hear vs. what you really do.

Today’s audiences are more skeptical (and smarter) than ever, so don’t make promises you can’t keep. Make sure your advertising reflects your core truths, and seek out the audience with whom those truths resonate the most.

  1. Switching it up to keep it fresh.

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of ever-changing ad campaigns – but in the end consistency is key in building brand awareness. Remember that marketers get sick of their messages long before their customers do.

  1. Over protecting your message.

Gone are the days when marketers are in complete control of their message. Today’s consumers are all about transparency and authenticity. Remember that sometimes the best adverting is the advertising that you do not create. Most people are seeking referrals from friends and third-party sources they trust. Engage those influencers and encourage them to shape and share your message, rather than keeping it behind lock and key.

  1. Measuring against the top and bottom line.

There are a lot of factors that impact sales and profits. Distribution, competitive activity, and pricing are just a few to consider. Marketers should always be measuring results of ad campaigns—but shouldn’t rely exclusively on sales. Measure based on strategy. If you’re trying to build awareness with an ad campaign, measure the unaided and aided awareness before and after the campaign. If you moved the needle, the campaign accomplished its goal. If sales didn’t follow the increase in awareness, other factors could be at play. Time to rethink your strategy and uncover what’s holding you back.

About Ethos

Ethos is a multiplatform branding agency that develops and executes integrated marketing campaigns across multiple channels for companies inside and outside Maine.

At Ethos, we believe that the most effective way to set a company’s marketing course is by finding its core truth – it’s ethos. We know that once we discover and communicate that core truth, we can truly make a difference to each client’s unique marketing and business objectives.

With Ethos, you get more than a Maine marketing agency. You get a long-term partner whose goals are your goals.

Learn more about the Ethos approach and the work we’ve done for our clients. Want to have a conversation about your brand’s core truth? Contact us!

Written By

The ETHOS Team