Why Your Ad Won’t Work

Why Your Ad Will Not Generate Response

Electronics For You Group has been blessed to service a very wide range of B2B organisations from the tech sector, and enable many of them to achieve their marketing goals. What puzzles us most is when two customers selling similar products (or services) share different experiences. While one praises our media properties for great response, the other complains about the lack of it.

Same magazine, same readers--so why the difference in results? To answer that question, we decided to engage an agency. Their goal: uncover possible reasons for poor response to some of our clients. They spoke to few of our customers, they spoke to the customers of these customers, and simultaneously reviewed over 300 different ad creatives. In the end, they came out with one key finding--even if you choose the right media, but you release a poor creative, you will NOT get results. And, this principle applies to any media--not just EFY.

What were the common problems in the creatives they reviewed? Here's the list they came up with...

  • 1. Contact Details Missing or Not Clearly Visible:

    Your creative is good. Customers want to contact you. But, they don't know how--because YOU missed to mention or highlight those details!

    TIP: Create visible bands or areas in your ad, where your contact details are clearly visible. Use easily readable fonts.

  • 2. Wrong Phone Numbers:

    2 in 10 ads have phone numbers that are NOT operational! This is especially true where contact numbers of multiple offices or dealers are mentioned.

    TIP: Try and give few phone numbers, and list only those that have been checked. Also, have someone check them frequently--to see if there's been any change during the campaign.

  • 3. Phone numbers that never get picked up:

    5 in 10 ads have phone numbers that don't get picked up even in the middle of the day! Many times, numbers of busy sales personnel or the top bosses are given, who can't take phone calls when busy.

    TIP: Give phone numbers that are managed by a team that is ready and eager to take calls and pass them to the right team members.

  • 4. No 'Leave Your Message' facility on phone numbers:

    Despite all the progress in mobile & landline telephony services--only 2 in 10 advertisements mention phone numbers that have the facility for customers to leave a voice message for a call back.

    TIP: Ideally, mention numbers with 'hunting' facility. Also, 'leave your message' is a must--so that if your team is busy or callers have called after office hours--they can leave a message for you to call them back.

    TIP: You may also dedicate a separate number which has the facility to show all missed calls. Plus, chances of customers calling a mobile number are higher than landline number.

  • 5. Website Details Missing:

    The most likely thing for customers to do now a days is to go to your website to get more details. If you don't highlight your website clearly, they will have to Google you and some other firm might beat you to the top--and take your customer away!

    TIP: If you have a website, mention it. If you don't--get one setup before you start advertising, else majority of your investment will go waste.

  • 6. No Tracking of Website Traffic:

    It's important that you have web traffic analysis software setup on your website before you start any marketing campaign. Why? Because now-a-days all of us tend to go to websites of the advertisers first, rather than call or email them. If you are tracking your websites, then you will be able to notice any change in traffic after your advertising started.

    TIP: Get website analytics software setup on your website. The most popular option is Google Analytics, and it's for free. TIPS

  • 7. Message for Channel Partners Missing:

    Many customers want to appoint channel partners (dealers, distributors, system integrators) but their ads do NOT highlight "Dealers & Distributor Enquiries Solicited". 4 in 10 advertisements are found to have this error.

    TIP: If you are soliciting channel partners, put a clear bold band stating the same. If contact details are separate for them, mention those too.

  • 8. Wrong Audience:

    You selected the media based on price and not the audience. It's like a men's product brand advertising in a woman's magazine because it was cheaper!

    TIP: Advertising is essentially buying engagement with the audience--if you buy the wrong audience--you cannot expect the right results. If you are in doubt between multiple mediums--don't go by what sales personnel of these media organisations say (they have sales targets). Instead. call your customers and channel partners to find out which ones they refer to, and invest in that.

  • 9. Wrong Placement:

    You want to target Design Engineers but you book it in the Business Section to save costs, or simply don't ask for specific placement, and your ad gets placed in sections which have content that does not interest your audience. That's like targeting customers in New York while placing a hoarding in London!

    TIP: Always find out which is the best section of the media where your targeted audience will be, and get your ad booked for that. If you can't afford half page in that section--invest in a quarter page. But, don't release a half page in a section where your audience may not refer to.

  • 10. Your Ad Talks About Yourself:

    While marketing has evolved a lot in the recent past, advertisements of B2B clients often suffer from this problem. The ads talk about your firm or your products rather than informing the audience what's the SPECIAL BENEFIT for them to deal with your firm.

    TIP: While 'talking about yourself' creatives can be good for brand building but not when you want business inquiries.

    TIP: The first thing clients are interested in is--what makes you different from others, and how it benefits them. If you are not sure about your creative--hire a creative agency. There is no point investing in media but with a creative that won't generate interest.

  • 11. Purpose of Your Ad is NOT clear:

    In 4 out of 10 cases we find that there is a clear mismatch between the marketing goal of the client and the creative of their ads. For example, some clients want B2B enquiries, but release brand-building ads where they highlight their organisation and its capabilities. In other cases, clients want to build their brand but release ads with a lot of product snapshots giving a Buy My Products message.

    TIP: First, finalise your primary marketing goal. It has to be ONE goal, and 50% or more area of your creative should highlight a strong message to achieve that one goal only. The rest of the creative space may be used to provide other supporting information. And, don't forget the Contact Info.

    TIP: Typically B2B marketing campaigns have the following goals:

    • (1) Generate inquiries from B2B customers,
    • (2) Generate inquiries from trade channel partners,
    • (3) Build my organisation or product brand image,
    • (4) Promote a new product or a service (ex: website). Choose your goal, and don't try to achieve more than one goal in single creative. You won't achieve any.
  • 12. More the messages, less is the response:

    Many creatives have too many elements in them, which generate ‘noise’ and your main message is lost in it.

    TIP: Follow the principle that Steve Jobs followed—perfection is not when you can’t add any more, it’s achieved when you can’t remove any further. So, look at elements that are NOT important and remove them.


We hope these pointers will help you generate good response through a better marketing strategies and more impactful creatives. To figure out whether you should hire an expert (employee, consultant or agency) simply estimate the cost of time and business opportunity invested in designing and perfecting the creative--and you'll be able to make an informed decision.

Also, even if you do hire experts--do NOT assume that you will NOT have to spend time on marketing at all. You must spend time on finalising the marketing goals, the target audience, and the broad message (marketing strategy) and let the agency then take that brief and make some good creatives.

IMP: There are marketing agencies that can even help you with your strategy--but typically in a B2B environment it takes them a lot of time to understand the nuances of your business, and you might run out of patience. So, you may start with outsourcing the creatives, and once they understand your business, you may engage them to come up with new strategies and initiatives--which may be simpler for an 'outsider' to come up with, than an 'insider'.

How to know whether an agency is good or not? Simple. Ask them for their last few creatives. Check if they are following these best practices.

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