Why do advertising campaigns fail after the CMO has done their market research and tested ad copy?

It could be because of the common advertising pitfalls that every CMO faces but more specifically with startups and microbrands.

These advertising issues pop-up in marketing plans, pre-launch strategies, ad agency misalignment, and your ad copy. Whatís lost? Your precise time and resources.

The new CMO role is to get the message out about the company and its products and drive sales leads and more business. You advertising programs can help build buzz, alert potential customers, and help with a successful product launch.

What is advertising definition for a startup?

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Advertising provides a direct line of communication to your existing and prospective customers about your product or service.

What is the purpose of advertising for a startup?

Your advertising goals should be defined in your business plan. For example, you may want to obtain a certain percentage of growth in sales, generate more inquiries or leads for sales, or build online-store traffic.

70 percent of users would rather learn about products through content than traditional advertisements. Click To Tweet

The desired result can increase name recognition or changing the image you’re projecting. Objectives vary depending on the industry, your target markets, and personas.

The purpose of advertising is to:

  • Make customers aware of your product or service
  • Convince customers that your company’s product or service is right for their needs
  • Create a desire for your product or service
  • Enhance the image of your company
  • Announce new products or services
  • Reinforce salespeople’s messages
  • Make customers take the next step (ask for more information, request a sample, place an order, and so on)
  • Draw customers to your business

Here are the most common ways advertising campaigns fail.

Failure to test the ad copy

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Most marketing executives including CMOís don’t realize that they can lower the risk and expense of their print or online advertising cost by starting small and testing for results.

Smaller ads and less ambitious advertising schedules can often be run, with the response being carefully measured. Then, the print or online advertising schedule can be scaled up if results look promising.

I’m a big believer in testing advertising attributes to any advertising campaign whether it be in print or online advertising. For example, a simple Facebook ad could have up to 48 ad test.  

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I know what you’re thinking 48 that’s a lot. And that is a lot. But if I want to test variables such as images, ad copy, target audience, and many other variables to test. You can see it gets up to 48 pretty quickly.

So I’m not saying you have to run 48 test for every ad. Think of the main variables you want to test for and layout the metrics and see if you meet them. If you do, you may be happy with the results and you need not test anymore. Take it into production and watch your sales leads grow.

The one-shot failure

Inept advertising agencies will convince executives at high-tech startups, or other managers charged with executing a product launch, to sign off on an ill-conceived ad campaign based on a budget number established in a company’s marketing budget.

The worst thing a CMO can say to an ad agency is:  I have $120,000 to spend on online advertising in the next quarter for our new product launch.  

Ad agencies are then given a free rein to spend this budget, and we’ll take the path of least resistance, spending the minimum time required on the campaign, and then delivering their creative director’s half-baked vision of what she thinks will sell the company’s productsóa splashy, full-page color ad.

93 percent of marketers use Facebook advertising regularly. Click To Tweet

And just like the auto body shop who charges for collision repair always matches the dollar amount the insurance company tells them they will pay, the agency is performed the least amount of work required and has blown the company’s entire advertising budget on a senseless three-issue run in an industries most expensive publication.

The ad agencies confident assurances, which resonates so well before the campaignówe’re building brand awareness!Ēóare a bitter lesson for the CMO who was left holding a failed sales quarter and a substantial out-of-pocket cost.

The permanent advertising campaign

Larger, well-established companies often run sizable print advertising programs including online advertising programs. But do so because of institutional momentumó”We’ve always done it this way.Ē  

Here, the enterprise may be compelled to keep their print advertising schedule running year-to-year simply because they’re leading competitor is also running a heavy print advertising schedule.

Upward pressure from sales reps, dealers, and distributors may also compel the company to carry print ad schedules well beyond the level of benefit to the company’s actual sales. Do you really have time and resources to waste with your startup advertising programs?

And if a company grows to a very large size, it can afford to run vacuousĒ image advertisingĒ to make its senior executive staff and board of directors feel better about themselves and their company, but your job is to sell products and not your company’s image.

Whatever the cause, print and online advertising in a larger company often becomes a permanent, budgetary line item in the  CMOís budget. A bloated and poorly justified case that, if deployed to other marketing activities, such as direct email campaigns, search engine optimization (SEO), or content marketing, can be transformed into a measurable investment that increases sales for the company.

Zenith predicts that social media advertising will be worth $50.2 billion in 2019 and will surpass the overall ad revenue of newspaper advertising by 2020. Click To Tweet

Regardless of the company size, or years in business, ineffective print, and online advertising campaigns can be overcome by better planning, execution and, above all, the application of salesmanship common sense.

As your company’s chief marketing officer, it is your job to stand up to the institutional or ad agency pressure that may push you to move too quickly into an expensive, poorly considered print or online advertising program. Don’t do that.

Wrap up on startup advertising pitfalls

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You just started your new job as a CMO at a startup company. Your first 90-day task is to drive more sales leads by creating a process predictable for your sales team. Simple right?

Most marketing executives jump right into their new job excited and think driving more leads can be done just by simply creating some ads. With these fresh new ads will help build brand awareness and sales leads will follow. Right?

This rarely occurs in any startup that is just entering an existing or new market. They must do their market research and test, test, and test some more. Once you hit the leads vein and leads are flowing. Then scale it. Not before.

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Advertising has its value in the promotional marketing mix but must be integrated with the rest of the marketing strategies. To have the best visuals, ad copy, right target audience, and personas. Do you understand where your audience gets its information about the problems that your product will solve?

I want you to think about the last ad you read that led you to purchase? What was it that piqued your interest? What made you buy?

Now share it.

Weíre listening.

Have something to say about startup advertising pitfalls? Share it with us on Facebook, Twitter or our LinkedIn.

General FAQ’s


What is a microbrand?

Microbrands are companies that use a combination of hyper-targeted marketing, social media, and manufacturing to find and engage with potential consumers on a range of platforms.


What are the examples of microbrands?

The microbrand trendóthink Harryís Razor, Casper Mattresses and Rowing Blazers.


Why are microbrands successful?

Microbrands operate a direct-to-consumer (DTC) model and are shaped by a combination of customer-centricity, ease, and convenience. They have essentially removed the middleman.

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