8 Mistakes Business Owners Should Avoid When it Comes to Online Advertising
by: Nicolas

Over the years I have come to notice that small business owners tend to make the same mistakes when it comes to their online advertising. I am highlighting my top 8 in this article.

I want to preface this article by saying that if you have made one or more of these mistakes, you shouldn't beat yourself up too hard. The internet has only been relevant to small businesses for 4 or 5 years. Chances are, when you started your business the internet wasn't even a consideration.

On to the list...

Mistake 1: Not getting their website professionally designed
This one is probably the most common. A lot of business owners choose to hire a "geek" or some "guy" doing websites. They're getting a good deal because an ad agency (like us) would charge so much more than the "guy". The problem with that is that the "guy" builds a working website, not a workhorse that will convert leads for your business. So while he charges you less, in the end, the potential loss in income from the visitors you failed to convert is far greater than the difference an ad agency would have charged to build the website.

Mistake 2: Buying web design based on price
A lot of people call us and ask: "how much do you charge for a website?" The question should be: "what can you do for me?" Judging the quality of someone based on how much they charge for a professional services is dangerous. It works if you are buying a product. If Best Buy has the Samsung S5 for $600 and Target has it for $400, you should buy it from Target. A website is not a product. A website is the expression of your web designer's strategy to convert visitors into customers. The strategy is everything. The wrong strategy will get you nothing but an invoice for their work (however low or high). While the right strategy will help convert your website's visitors into customers and help you maintain and/or grow your business according to your needs.

Mistake 3: Overpaying for web design
This mistake goes hand-in-hand with #2. Assuming that something will be good because it is expensive is dangerous. I recently got a call from an attorney who had spent in the neighborhood of $11,000 for the creation of her website. My recommendation was to first finish creating the text content she needed and then redo most of the structure of the website which was not visitor-friendly at all. She is probably looking at spending around $3,500 to fix it and would have spent less than $4,500 building it from scratch. Now it's going to have cost her 11,000 + 3,500 - 4,500 = she lost $10,000 overpaying for her website.

Mistake 4: Managing their own Google campaign
Of all the mistakes, this one could be the most tempting. The truth is that managing your own Google advertising campaign will require you to study the following: the psychology of the average search engine user, the behavior people looking for your type of business usually display when using a search engine, words commonly used by searchers and competitors, and lastly the Google Adwords interface (settings, etc). Since you can't acquire experience from managing other people's campaigns across various other types of industries, you will have to learn by trial and errors which can be time (and money) consuming. If you are ok with all of the above, then by all means, manage your own campaign. It is definitely an interesting experience. On the other end, if that's not your cup of tea, then you need to hire a company to do it for you.

It is important to note that some businesses don't have a choice but to manage their own Google advertising campaign. For instance, if you are in a niche business, or your product is so unique that there is little or no data available to help setup and manage your campaign it probably makes sense to learn how to work your campaign yourself.

Mistake 5: Hiring the phone book or newspaper company to manage their Google advertising
This mistake is probably the most annoying to me. I put little fault on the business owners as they are conditioned to give the phone books and newspapers tens of thousands of dollars a year for advertising, so in their mind they're giving money to the same people, except it is for something different. The truth about the phone book companies and the newspapers is that they have a great print product (I didn't say cheap), but they did not start as internet companies. As a matter of fact, I am not aware of one single phone book or newspaper companies that has someone with a computer engineering degree serving as CEO. Would you ask your mechanic to do a root canal? Would you ask your dentist to fix your car? I wouldn't, but that's just me...

Mistake 6: Focus on looks rather than conversion
This mistake happens across different media. Take the OxyClean commercials from the Billy Mays days. You could shoot one with $10K (that's without Billly's massive paycheck), and yet it was so effective that OxyClean grew to become a household name now sold in virtually every grocery store in the country. The secret: the commercial was appropriate for their target audience. Your website shouldn't look good or fancy, it should look "appropriate". It should be a reflection of the types of clients you are looking to attract.

Mistake 7: Ignoring the power of video
While video as a standalone product on YouTube or Vimeo has failed to prove itself to be a great lead generating medium (at least to me); it is extremely powerful when combined with another platform. Adding video to your website, sharing it on social media, including it as part of a client presentation will retain the attention of your audience longer and make you look more professional. Don't let the fact that video is expensive to produce scare you. It is well worth the investment.

Mistake 8: Spend more on social media than on Google advertising
While social media has its place in your overall marketing and branding efforts (especially if you own a restaurant, nightclub, clothing line, etc), the return on investment is statistically far less than that of Google advertising. If you are spending $1,000/month on social media (in-house or outsourced), you should be spending at least $5,000/month on Google search advertising (PPC).

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Article date: Jul. 31 2014

Article type: Advertising Strategies


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  • Small Business Owners
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  • Online Advertising
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