Nearly every local newspaper publishes special editorial sections and pages like the Spring Sports Review, the Home Improvement Preview, or the Celebrate America’s Freedom tabloid.

I call them “guilt sections” because many sales reps use guilt to sell the space. “You don’t want to support high school basketball? You don’t think Independence Day is important? You know, your competitor down the street is going to be in there.” Have you ever known a point guard to sit depressed on the bench or miss a shot because a particular business didn’t buy an ad?

Usually, you should avoid these sections like the plague. Most are created solely to get you to increase your expenditures, and they are better at making money than your neighborhood counterfeiter. Many businesses advertise in them only because they are afraid their absence will be conspicuous. Guess what? The only people who pay attention to whether you’re there are your competitors. I convinced one client to stop advertising in a particular monthly feature, and within six months, four of its five competitors followed suit.

If you do decide to advertise, use ads that promote your services and products. Running a “Go Boll Weevils!” message with bad artwork of a straight-armed running back is the equivalent of dropping your wallet in a trash can. Better yet, include a mechanism that allows you to track the ad’s response. If it doesn’t generate more money than you invested, don’t make the same mistake twice.