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Why Don’t My Adverts Work? How To Attract New Customers

Why Don't My Adverts Work?

“Why don’t my adverts work?”, this was a question that I was asked recently. The person asking the question had just launched their own printing business, producing personalised products, targeted at parents with young children. Therefore, they wanted to understand how to attract new customers, and why their ads were failing.

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Why Don’t My Adverts Generate Sales?

The ads had apparently been viewed over 900 times, with c. 25 people expanding the ad to read the details. However, there were no click throughs to purchase so the adverts hadn’t generated any sales.

Firstly, I asked three questions, which could help reveal why these ads are not producing leads:

  1. Who are your target customers?
  2. Where are you advertising?
  3. What did your advert say?

Target Customers

The target customers were parents, probably mainly mothers, with young children. Immediately, I was thinking that social media channels would be a great way to reach this segment. That didn’t answer the question as to why these adverts didn’t work.

Paid Versus Free Promotion

Whilst paid ads are a great option if you can afford them, this is a segment of customers that can be sought without spending any money. Therefore, I had a few ideas about how you might reach that segment without paying for advertising e.g. using a content rich article. However, this question was specifically about why the paid adverts weren’t working.

Advertising Channels

I was told that the paid adverts were being run on Facebook. Again, that channel seems reasonable in light of the target market. Therefore, it didn’t seem like the channel was the problem. If the adverts had been running on say LinkedIn (which tends to be more business focused) I might have thought there are more appropriate channels. In this case the channel seemed appropriate. 

The Advert Itself

We went on to discuss the content of the advert. Creating good content goes beyond just ensuring that the advert meets the legal guidelines. These are laid down by the Advertising Standards Authority.

The headline was the only thing that was being displayed to prospects. Therefore, the ad required the viewer to click the ad to see the detail. The detail explained the product, and the content sounded pretty good to me. I was surprised that it hadn’t had any response.

The Problem Was The Headline

Then we got to what I suspect to be the problem. The headline, the only thing the 900 customers saw, just said “New product launched”. Whilst that sounds interesting, it says nothing of what the product is, and the problems it solves. Also, I suspect that people will think that sounds deliberately vague, trying to invite clicks.

Only c. 25 people have seen the full detail of the advert, so it is no surprise that there have not been any purchases.

The Problem With Advertising

The big problem with advertising is that, like many things, it is an art perfected over many years.

Business people need to advertise, and if any aspect of your ad falls down the whole thing will fail. It is no more reasonable to expect a layman to create a successful advert, than to paint a masterpiece. Yet, whilst few would embark on painting a masterpiece, many might expect that they could turn their hand to advertising.

How To Attract New Customers

Therefore, I had some suggests on how to attract new customers with this advert. Firstly, I would rewrite the headline so that it immediately communicates the nature of the product, and the problem that it solves.

Secondly, I would test the ad against a small sample of potential customers i.e. without allocating a huge budget immediately. If it still doesn’t convert new customers, different versions can be trialed, and the results compared. This is often called A/B Testing or Split Testing.

Lastly, I would return to what can be achieved without spending any money. It may take more effort and time, but generating customers without spending money is the holy grail of marketing.

Creating Valuable Content

In this case, my suggestion was to create some valuable content, that could be shared via social media channels. This might be an article with some tips on overcoming the issues that these products address. Within that content the writer should include a reference to these products.

Other Reasons Adverts Fail

Whilst this particular advert may have failed due to the reason mentioned above, there are lots of other reasons why adverts fail.

Reasons Ads Can Fail To Generate Sales

The reasons ads can fail to generate sales may also include:

  • Bad audience targeting – if the ad doesn’t get seen by your target audience it will never work. This could be because you are using the wrong medium, advertising at the wrong time or you simply don’t know who your audience are.
  • Poor content – an advert has to get your message across and encourages prospective customers to engage. Poorly written content can hinder that process, or fail to get your message across and prompt the prospect to engage. Also, make sure that you are using the right terms that your customers will understand.
  • No call to action – if there is no obvious way for the prospect to engage e.g. purchase, or contact you, the ad may fail. Similarly, mutiple calls to action can have a counter effect, confusing prospects.
  • Confusing visual imagery – it is easy to get caught up in an idea which may be irrelevant to your ad. Advertisers often choose visual images that they like, rather than those that communicate their message.
  • Misunderstanding your customers – sometimes suppliers become fixated on concepts they love, and therfore think customers will love. If you are not within your target audience, you might not see things as they do. You might end up producing a product or service that isn’t required, or selling at the wrong price point.  Research and testing can help you understand why your adverts don’t work, and ensure your ads are successful.

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