Example Of Bad Advertising

The other day, my uncle forwarded a mail piece to me that he received from a directory company who places those big directory boards in malls to advertise businesses.

Now, you’d think an advertising company would no how to market, right?  WRONG.

Another big company who could be making a lot more money if they knew how to market correctly.

Before I go over the ad (the good, the bad, and the ugly… well, maybe not ugly), here’s a picture for you to review:

Advertisers Ad

Just so you know, since you can’t it, this is printed on nice quality paper with nothing on the back (that’s right, it’s just white space… which we’ll get to in a moment).  Also, this was folded and delivered in a plain white envelope (6″ x 9″), with their company name and return address (screams: I’m about to sell you something).

Ok, onwards to the ad.


Notice the headline:  “ADVERTISE IN Beachwood Place Mall.”  Mmm… ok.  Now check out the sub-head:  “Now you can reach 889,000 potential customers for only $395 Per month.” 

The headline is absolutely horrible.  Doesn’t give any benefits (like the sub-head does… “…reach 889,000 potential customers…”) and it’s boring.  If anything the sub-head should have been the main headline.

If I was going to re-write it, I would say something along the lines of, “Find Out How You Can Reach 889,000 Potential Customers Without Lifting A Finger, Guaranteed” and then move them along the copy.


Look at the “Benefits” they claim you’ll get:  A full color, illuminated 4′ x 6′ ad, Brochure Box, Hassle free production, etc.

These aren’t benefits, they’re features.

Remember:  Features TELL and Benefits SELL

Look at the picture they have of their directory.  They have a sample ad to show you what your ad could look like.  GREAT!!!!

My uncle is a Personal Trainer, so look at what ad they have as an example… it’s for a weight loss and wellness business.  Coincidence?  Or, just smart marketing?  By looking at how their ad is written, I’m going to say coincidence.  If not, then they did a great job at targeting!


Ok, back to the whitespace I mentioned above.  Bill Glazer (Co-founder of GKIC and author of the book Outrageous Advertising That’s Outrageously Successful) says, “Blank space won’t sell anything and is a waste.”

This directory company wasted a lot of valuable “selling” space.  They could have included nothing but testimonials with pictures of the successful ads.  But, for some reason, they decided it wasn’t important (Don’t do this, ok?).

Testimonials are very important in all of your marketing.  It provides PROOF that what you’re selling works.

Notice they included a map of the locations of the directories.  That’s a nice touch, but it doesn’t sell.  They don’t even have a call-to-action on this page.


Speaking of call-to-action, their call-to-action (CTA) is “For Information Please call…” and then they include an email.

Not a strong CTA at all.  What they should have done is to direct you to a special webpage on their site for a video or tips on advertising.

The video could show the 889,000 potential customers stopping to look at the directories (shows proof). 

Also, where’s the offer??  No discount?  No special offer that includes a direct mail campaign?  No guarantee?  UGH!

If you were going to re-write this ad, how would you do it?  What would you include and what would you take out?

Are you making any of these mistakes with your marketing?

Leave me your comments below.

Now go take action!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *