There are many reasons why advertising often fails to deliver the ROI that you may expect. It could be that your current advertising message is boring or plays it too safe. Or, maybe you are trying to say or accomplish too much at once with your marketing message. Maybe your strategy or target audience is wrong. Possibly, you are ignoring one media over another. It could even be that you may expect too much too soon and ignore the fact that advertising is all about repetition and a sense of familiarity with brand. There are many variables aside from these things that come into play including economic conditions.

Often times, many companies make the mistake in thinking that advertising can fix other internal corporate problems. I have seen many companies ignore or misunderstand the basic fundamentals of sales, marketing and customer service. Maybe your product or service is outdated, not trusted or…gasp!….a bad product. Maybe you lost sight of what your customer really wants or needs. Maybe your price structure is just too high or you have cheapened your product by reducing your price structure too much. Maybe your customer service stinks. Maybe you lost your passion and pride on the quality of your product or service. Maybe….

No company is perfect and every so often my best advice is to step back and reexamine your business and the product or service you offer. Take the time to reestablish trust by being more honest, open, relevant and emotionally engaging with your customer. Spend money on improving and shoring up the foundation instead of fixing the cracks.

Survey your current customers and ask them what they think. And, REALLY listen to them! Do some research on your potential customers and make sure you understand who they are and how they will use your product. For example, lets say you are a computer support and service company and you have a list of businesses in your area that hire companies like yours for this type of service. When you call them, tell them you’re surveying the ways people hear of computer support and service firms, and ask how they first heard of the company they are currently using.

If approached in the right way, most people are usually happy to help. And, from the survey you’ve conducted, you will know exactly how to target your promotions. Keep in mind that opinions may be inconsistent with real world behaviors so don’t use cookie-cutter questions when conducting your research.

Have you ever seen a client or customer make a fundamental sales, marketing or customer service misstep that affected their advertising and bottom line?