Thursday, September 14, 2017
Top Ten Mistakes In Advertising & How To Avoid Them: #2 Plan Your Campaign Timing Carefully

As we saw in article number one, Testing remains front and centre the most important, powerful and effective thing you can do to help your advertising. Regardless of the budget, the message, or the media placement you make.  You need to test and test and keep testing because there is going to be an opportunity for improvement, however modest, in each and every ad. Those cumulative changes can be absolute gold showing you what your customers want and need, and are prepared to put their hand up for. Now that you have testing ingrained and under your skin it's going to be part and parcel of every ad moving forward, correct ? Good.  I'm thrilled to learn that you're onboard with that.


Mistake Number Two that I've seen too often through the years is that far too many advertisers are jumping in at any time without rhyme and reason, not thinking if this is the best seasonality to be in front of the target. Now I understand very few advertisers can afford to be there all the time running their campaign at full throttle, and that's not unexpected.


You have to have some rather deep pockets to keep an ongoing campaign all of the time. You can quickly make yourself broke if you keep marketing, but not testing to see if the ads are working. The whole idea is salesmanship. That goes back to John E. Kennedy in 1904. 


His story starts in a saloon, where most good ones should start. In 1904, he sent a note to Albert Lasker, the new young President of Lord & Thomas ad agency…Let’s go back 110+ years At only 23, Albert Lasker had already earned enough money from salary and bonuses to buy Daniel Lord's shares when Lord retired. One day, he was sitting in Ambrose Thomas's office and a secretary handed a note to Thomas that said: "I am downstairs in the saloon. I can tell you what advertising is. I know you don't know. If you wish to know what advertising is, send the word 'Yes' down with the bellboy. Signed – John E. Kennedy."


Thomas scoffed at the note, but Lasker was intrigued and sent the word 'Yes' down to the saloon. Kennedy was shown into Lasker's office. He was a strapping 6-foot tall, ex-Mountie who used to write ads for the Hudson's Bay Company. Could he be more Canadian? (Image Source: buildingpharmabrands) When Kennedy asked Lasker if he knew what advertising was, Lasker said, "I think so. It's news." Kennedy said no, news was just a technique .The secret to advertising, Kennedy said, can be summed up in just three words: "Salesmanship in print."

The secret to advertising, Kennedy said, can be summed up in just three words: "Salesmanship in print."

Those three words would change the advertising world forever…"Salesmanship in print" was an epiphany to the advertising world in 1904. Essentially, Kennedy was saying that advertising had to persuade.  It had to give people reasons to buy the product. It had to convince.Up until then, all advertising was just straight facts. Here's the product, here's what it costs. That's kinda why you’re marketing isn't it? (More of this story can be found at this link)


Regardless of what you're selling, a product or service, you want to sell something. so make sure every ad is a sales opportunity for you. Here's what I'd like you to do. Maybe some of you are already doing this and if so that's fantastic, because it will give you a much better understanding of your spending and your planning.


The biggest challenge for many advertisers is not anticipating when their best sales periods are going to be. They end up jumping at every advertising opportunity from each well-intended media sales person, who comes through the door. In the majority they are all very good people and I have some wonderful relationships with many of my sales reps going back decades, which is amazing. They have become true allies for me in making a campaign, which works incredibly hard for my clients. I applaud them and I continue to do business with them.


Please understand their mandate is to sell. To sell the advertising space or time or placement. They want to see you do well but they also want to see some money. Remember it is in their interest to get you to advertise as often as possible with their publication, their website, their outdoor board, their radio station, and kudos to them, they should be. 


But that can really stretch a budget if you're trying to be there all the time, and you're not sure what you should be doing. So here's a simple tip that will really help crystallize for you what your timings should be like.   I want you to map out an entire year on a spreadsheet. Oh it can be any fiscal if you prefer but for simplistic sake I try to stick to a calendar, January to December. (If you’d like a Sample Yearly Calendar, send an e-nail to with Sample Yearly Calendar in the subject line, and I’ll send you a copy)


I want you to pick any two sales periods. If you have more, that's great but two is easier to work with.  So the times where you have some sales history showing you your best months, your products’ seasonal applicability, will determine the key sales potential period. Let's say April and May for spring and then November and December for winter are your best sales carrots.  I actually have several clients in different industries where that is exactly the case. Those are the pivotal periods for them. What I want you to do is devote up to 50% of your annual ad budget to support these two windows.


That's where perhaps upwards of 80% of your business is coming from. You should be giving those two key periods the best opportunity to maximize your exposure. I encourage you to put much of your marketing muscle in these periods because they are driving the majority of your revenue.  These are the key times that you want to be making sure your name is out there on an ongoing basis, and they will get your most attention and your most support.


Okay, with those in place, the remaining eight months of the year will share the remaining 50% of the budget. Perhaps you devote 30% to six months and 20% to the final two months. You can allocate that as you feel comfortable, and as your cash flow allows. In my experience, this gives you an opportunity to have sustained presence, to have even some modest exposure, so you’re always on your prospects radar. You don't have to be running full-throttle all the time. This allows you to ramp up your presence in the four heaviest months split between spring and winter. You have maybe six months that are second tier and that need some increased support. Importantly, they're not the same demand period as your key period, so you don't  have to be with your foot on the pedal quite as aggressively through those time blocks. The intensity is not as critical as your primary periods. 


Then the lightest months for some advertisers, often the summer window, June through August, when people are at last vacationing, or not really thinking of work because the outdoor beckons, those might be your lighter periods. Please keep some spending out there, you don't want to lose all of the equity and all of the awareness that you've built up through your spring periods. Remember you want to have some ongoing presence, however modest, just to make sure that your key audience knows that you're still in there pitching. Your lightest months can just be a sustaining presence. 


The times where you have some sales history showing you your best months, your products’ seasonal applicability will determine the key sales potential period. Bear in mind, this is only one of many deployment strategies I've discovered. I’ve had the great good fortune of working with both large and small ad agencies and working with some advertisers who had very modest budgets, and some of who have very deep pockets.  You don't have to spend more than your competition. Certainly it helps to increase your media exposure when you have multiple opportunities there. However, you just have to spend smarter, at the right times. So take the time to map out on a calendar what your key sales periods are and maybe those are Spring & Fall. Maybe, just pre-Christmas, but take the time to find out.


This is the single biggest advertising tip I can give you. Importantly, plan and buy early.  Planning months in advance, you will save yourself an enormous amount of grief. No less critical, you will save an enormous amount of money by booking early. I can’t stress that enough. You can save from 30% to 60% or more by buying EARLY.


So take the time to Plan Your Campaign Timing Carefully and Spend Smarter. 



In appreciation of Masthead Readers, you can order my Bestseller – 57 Media Spikes book at 40% off through Amazon for $17.74 Cdn, and if you order two or more copies, they ship for FREE. 

- Dennis Kelly
About Me
Dennis Kelly
A professional to his fingertips, Dennis Kelly of First Impressions Media brings a deft touch as your media magician. Extracting incremental media value for you from suppliers is second nature for Dennis. His versatility in all media is bred of 3 decades of hands-on media planning & buying experience in the media trenches. As a steward of your media budget, Dennis excels in delivering smart, efficient, creative and targeted campaigns to showcase your creative to the right audience.

Dennis is the author of “ 9 Secrets of How To Improve Your Advertising” and is available to Masthead Reader for $197 through a special offer at this link
Most Recent Blog Comment
Dennis Kelly says:
Thank you Gloria. What a perfectly apropos link. Thank you for sharing that. You are quite correct. ...
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