Advertising with Purpose: Plan and Avoid These 8 Mistakes

Construction Advertising Strategy

Advertising should be about getting the most reach, as close as possible to the target demographic, for the best budget.
That’s the goal.

Campaign Plan

Do you know the difference between pushing rope and pulling rope?  Pulling rope is leading; knowing where you’re going.  Pushing rope is a sure way to waste time and effort.  Advertising without a campaign plan is pushing rope.

A campaign plan defines who are you planning to reach, the strategy to do so and the budget to do so.

  1. What are the advertising goals?
  2. Do you have a profile of the target?
  3. Can the campaign be segmented?
  4. What is the campaign budget?
  5. What is the cycle to budget, benchmark, analyze and assess?

Mistake #1 No budget, no goals, no plan.

Print v. Digital


As much of the printed media is also available now online as well, it’s important to take advantage of this to know some details.  Is the platform where the publication is published and the individual publications themselves optimized for search engines?  How many people read the magazine online and what data can we see?  Visits, duration, bounce rate.  Feel free to ask about clicks on ads in the magazine historically.  Expect a low number.

How many clicks does the printed version get?  None silly.  It’s a printed magazine. Herein we highlight that extra bit of value in the information one gets from advertisements in the digital realm.

Heavy construction industry principals and decision-makers read industry news. It’s required reading.  While the trend is towards more digital consumption, there still is some convenience to reading a magazine.  This is why we and many marketing specialists do not rule out print media.  There will be no better data on this than asking your clients what they read.  Dedicate some time to cast off assumptions and get some info on what your target profile (decision makers) read.  Publishers may supply you with circulation numbers but, we prefer you go right to the horses’ mouth.  Yes, it takes some work.  We’re glad to help. 🙂

Mistake #2 Ignoring print media


Industry-sponsored and generated news is a very good way to focus digital advertising budget dollars towards the right demographic.  Before diving in you should have the publisher provide some history of what you can expect, and what to measure future performance against.  Ads will link to a landing page, so it’s wise to have some strategy that converts clicks to engagement for taking advantage of the segmentation opportunities that digital advertising presents.

Google.  Unless you have an in-house Google Ads specialist, you’ll need to have a campaign manager to run, monitor, and manage Google Ads campaigns.  Through the manager, you can tune your campaign to target a demographic, or profile strategically based on keywords and adjust based on the data coming back from the campaign.  This is the whole point of Google Ads.  You’re going to have to determine into your budget: the costs of management, and the spend for the ads.  The tipping point?  For example, if the spend for management of the campaign costs more than the cost of the ads, that might be a tipping point.

Again, it’s wise to take advantage to segment and make strategic use of the intel available from digital campaigns.  This can get pretty sophisticated, so before you drop $$$ on Google ads, get your head around the real costs of taking full advantage of the advanced capabilities.

Mistake #3 Ignoring digital media

Mistake #4 Not being strategic on digital media

More on Print v. Digital: Construction Industry Advertising: Digital or Print?


Some publishers are more open to negations than others.  Associations are less inclined than private publishers but it “never hurts to ask” as my mother used to say.  Especially when they solicit you, ask for a deep deep discount, as per above.  This is just a matter of not leaving money on the table.  Until the insertion order is signed and sent, it’s negotiable.

Mistake #5 Not asking for a better deal.


Construction Advertising

I won’t say that these opportunities are an auto-no.  But unless you have an advertising plan, DO NOT advertise in anything.  This includes the great opportunity the sales rep on the phone has for the last remaining spot in this very important issue.

Advertising is a process, not an event.  This said, the “1-time ad and out” advertisement builds on nothing and lays the foundations for nothing.  Save your money.  The only exception to this rule is where the ad has value as a message piece, such as a client thank you, or compliments some specific magazine content, such as a client feature piece, for which you may want to be an adjacent advertiser.  In these cases do not expect any reach benefit from the ad but consider it only for the value of the message to the client.  Or you may just want to take the price of that ad and buy them a thank-you dinner or lunch for the office. Probably makes a bigger impression.

NOTE:  A common practice to “peripheral publications” has been to contact a company, offer to do a feature about them at no cost, in exchange for their list of clients and partners.  The “Publisher” then contacts all the clients and partners with a “great opportunity to support your client” who is the subject of the article with an ad.
No Thanks.

Mistake #6 Unstrategic and unsolicited ad offers.

Beware of these great “opportunities”…

I’m Kent Hogeboom with Dynamic Construction Magazine and we’d like to do a feature on your company president…”  CLICK.

I’m David Krauser with Krauser Media and we have an opportunity to fill a 5-minute video spot on the program, “Construction this Week” slated to be shown …”  CLICK.

This won’t cost you a thing…”  CLICK.

We just need your clients list…”  CLICK.

If you haven’t heard of the magazine or media outlet, chances are, neither has your client.

Poor Design

Design with a purpose.  “Hey, here we are! We’re Great!” doesn’t cut it.  Here are a few thoughts…

  1. Why are you running this ad anyway?  Design towards that.
  2. Your neighbor is a “designer”.  We know.  We can tell.
  3. What is the Call to Action?  Every ad should give the reader an opportunity to engage.  “We lowered our prices! Check them out!”, “We’ll be at X conference – visit us!”, “Visit our Website to Read About the Story in the Photo”, etc. be creative.
  4. Too Much info.  Less is more. Whitespace gets attention.
  5. Prioritize the message.  What’s message #1, message #2, message #3.
  6. Differentiate.  On a website full of cranes? In a magazine full of cranes?  Don’t feature an image of a crane.
  7. Use websites, Landing pages, QR Codes, Social Media to engage, amplify the ad.
  8. Review the site or magazine.  Design to look like the most professional in the book or on the site.  Standout.
  9. You’re spending a lot of money to advertise.  Can you segment by design to the magazine/site readership demographic?
    Or are you just running the same general ad everywhere?

Mistake #7 Poor ad design.

No Cycle.  No Assessment.

Up top under “Campaign Plan”, #5 says, “What is the cycle to budget, benchmark, analyze and assess?”.  Stop signing insertion orders.  If your cycle is a year fine (It doesn’t have to be) If that’s where you benchmark and assess the performance of your ad campaigns and segments, that’s cool.  Well done.  Much is to be garnered from a stop and look at what you’re doing and what are the results?  What can we do better? What is advertising ROI?  This last point may take a lot of assumption and some extrapolation (Have your comptroller handy) but it’s worth the time to take a look and see what’s working, what’s not and what you can learn from the past cycle.

Mistake #8 Failing to Set a cycle to budget, benchmark, analyze and assess.

Don’t push rope.

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