Print Hints: 6 Ad Mistakes that Waste Money

Few of us would actually throw money in the trashcan or down the toilet, but as marketers we do it all the time without realizing it when we have mistakes in our ads.


Marketing requires trial and error, lots of testing. But there are a few simple things we can do to make those failures less common and, in many cases, less costly. This week we’re focusing on print advertising, but many of these can apply to other mediums.

Here are a some of the more common ad mistakes advertisers make in their print ad campaigns:

Not proofing before printing – This seems simple, but happens way too much.  Misspelled copy. Incorrect dates or locations. A little too much Photoshopping. Unlike a digital ad, these mistakes are hard to correct once printed. They can be embarrassing and result in expensive reprints.

Target photoshop ad fail
This Target ad was photoshopped additional arms on the adult male model

Not identifying or testing your target demo – Does your audience utilize print? If so, what are they reading? Are you advertising there? Before you spend the money make sure this is an effective medium to reach your audience.

Not having a backup plan – Print should never be your only marketing channel. Utilize multiple outreach methods. By utilizing a multi-channel approach (as long as each channel is a research-backed opportunity), the more likely you will reach your desired audience.


Not integrating marketing channels – All of your advertising should refer readers to other places you are advertising. Always include phone number, website, or social media in your ads.

Not providing value Consumers want to know what products can do for them. Emphasize product benefits more than features. This can be difficult in print, but when done well, it is effective.

Not giving it time to work – Patience grasshopper. If you are investing money and time in a campaign, give it time to work. Understand that not everything goes viral overnight; some products take time to build momentum.

YOUR TURN: Has this happened to you? Perhaps the incorrect date for a big sale or the wrong price on a popular item? Have you had a printing disaster in your advertising? Have you benefited from an advertising mistake? Tell us about it.

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