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What advertising is working?: Perception vs. reality

LogoMotivesLogoMotives subscriber Posts: 15
edited June 2006 in Marketing
I recently asked a new client how she tracked the success of her advertising, marketing and promotion efforts.  She told me that she didn`t.  I then asked how she knew what was drawing customers to her business.  She told me she "didn`t have a clue."  This woman was spending beaucoup bucks each month to promote her business.  She was doing radio, television, print (magazine image ads and newspaper "call to action" ads) and outdoor; yet she didn`t have a clue what was working.  However, she did seem to have  a problem saying "no" to any advertising representative calling on her business to present promotion possibilities.As she was stuck in contracts of several future months with most forms of media, I immediately suggested that she only promote certain specials on one given media at a time.  Potential customers seeking the special for a specific service would help her start the process of being able to track what was best serving the business as an advertising vehicle.  I also suggested that she educate her entire staff about the specials being featured each week.  Previously, most didn`t know what was being advertised at any time.  In each weekly staff meeting employees began to receive printouts of all ads being run and a schedule of broadcast media efforts.  A notepad was created, providing a checklist of all advertising being done, for personnel answering the phones.  When the phones were answered, the caller was first asked how they had learned about the business , with the response being recorded on the notepad.  Far from an exact science, this did help the business owner begin to get an idea of what advertising dollars were bringing clients to the company.  When her current contracts expire it will not be necessary for some to be renewed.This whole excercise reminded me of the experience of a friend/client who owned a high-end men`s clothing store in Seattle some years ago.   We had the opportunity to make use of the talents of a great fashion photographer for a photo shoot of models wearing the clothing while walking through Pike Place Market.  I developed a series of print ads to run every other week,  in only the freebie publication Seattle Weekly. The business owner was quite savvy when it came to his marketing and promotion.  He decided to make sure his employees asked each customer how they learned about his store. Over a period of a couple months, the majority of customers said store advertising had resulted in their first visit to the establishment. (The other top answers were word-of-mouth and simply walking by the store)  Most then said they first learned about the store through ads in one of the city`s daily papers - in which no ads were ever placed.  Many others recalled seeing television commercials or hearing radio spots - no broadcast media was ever used.  Others commented on seeing outdoor signage or bus boards promoting the store - additional vehicles never even considered in the original advertising plan.  A somewhat small number accurately remembered seeing the ads in the Seattle Weekly.  Still, most of those seemed to remember the ads running every week, when the placements were actually only every other week.Although the answers were not what he expected, my client/friend was thrilled that he was getting such broad perceived advertising exposure for the reality of a limited advertising dollar expenditure.  How are customers/clients finding your business?  What is the perception? What is the reality?  How do you track the results of your advertising efforts?- J.

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    iouone2iouone2 subscriber Posts: 14
    LogoMotives,This is excellent! Yes I think about this too. I track my site for hit numbers after a tradeshow and compare with pre-tradeshow numbers. I also watch the numbers around times I have had flyers sent out. I see a very significant difference, but really have no idea of determining visits due to my efforts. I can`t even track repeat visits at this time. My advertising budget is generally less than $1000 every six months. So maybe in my situation any advertising is better than none. But yes I agree, jumping into all sorts of advertising is good, but controlling when, where and why, are quite important.
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    keyconkeycon subscriber Posts: 34
    Jeff,
    Excellent examples. I will add I have experienced the same type of responses from my clients when asked the same questions. Scorekeeping and measuring is important in every aspect of running a business. If you don`t keep score, how do you know if you are winning or losing? Would you go to a professional sporting event if you knew they didn`t keep score? Probably not.
    Develop measurements for all areas of your business. With accurate measurements, you can set higher and higher goals and reach new levels of growth and profits. And contrary to popular belief these days, "profit" is not a dirty word.
    Thanks Jeff.
    R@
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    scrappyscrappy subscriber Posts: 8
    Everytime someone signs up for my newsletter, my software sends an automatic email back... I then send them a personal email thanking them for signing on... I then ask if they could tell me how they found my site because I`m trying to keep track of what`s working and what`s not.  I`d say 90% respond back to me answering this question.  Most of mine have been through yahoo and msn search engines.  I have one of those advertisements on the back of my car that covers the whole window... I`ve had this since Oct 05.  I have not had one person say they signed on because they saw my advertisement on my car.  Honestly, I`m shocked at this...
    I also keep track of how many hits I get on a daily basis and keep an average...
    Marcy
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    iouone2iouone2 subscriber Posts: 14
    That is Amazing scrappy! (signage on car, no response) I have been thinking of signage on my vehicle also. I thought that would really be a hit. I still think it`s worth doing. After all there is some benefit to repetition in ad placement. But I thought it would be more of an "interest builder" rather that supportive to other advertising methods.
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    scrappyscrappy subscriber Posts: 8
    Vincent,
    I`m really shocked that I`ve rec`d no hits from my car advertising.  I`ve paid someone to do a Press Release/article for me for my local community... basically, I`m offering free in home consultation to help the `crafter` get organized.  I think it will be a big help having the advertisement on my car once this part of my business gets going.
    Marcy
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    scrappyscrappy subscriber Posts: 8
    Aaron,
    I drive a dark blue scion xb (the milk truck
    I think it`s a great car to advertise with... The whole back windo has my logo and across the bottom of the window it has my website address.  Then with magnets, on the bottom half of the car, I have "Innovative Scrapbook Furniture" with 3 bullet points below. "Oversized cabinets" "Paper Organizer" "Oversized desks"
    I did not post my ph#, because in the beginning, it was strictly an online business.  I`m about to change that so I will be adding my ph# via `magnet` on the back of the car.  Maybe that`s what I needed to begin with...
    Marcy
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    MilasMediaMilasMedia subscriber Posts: 5
    I have delivered local flyers to 200, 400, and 500 businesses door to door at night. Out of the 200 I delivered I got 8 call backs, 6 jobs - 400 21 call backs, 19 jobs, 500 29 call backs, 28 jobs. For working around 2-3 hours a night, I would say its a pretty good response rate. As you all know I am in the printing industry, so I get all this business repeated around 90% of the time. So what I am saying is that local marketing works. I recently started another business selling paint and paint supplies wholesale and bought an 06 chevy express to haul my deliveries, but I am wrapping the entire van in Milas Media Printing, Design, and Web Hosting Specials. Because I can get Full Color printed car wrap for a very good rate, 1 customer pays for the entire job. Plus, I can change it up when my specials change or when I want to add something. I like this idea and will be doing it very soon.On another note - social websites (like this) and myspace have worked wonders for me. From myspace alone I average 2-4 print jobs weekly. These are not just small jobs either - 2 weeks ago I received an order for 10,000 brochures which is a nice payday for me.
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    admanadman subscriber Posts: 3
    This topic is excellent,  I think I may write about it in my blog today as it`s not something I`ve currently addressed online yet.
    I too have had clients spending money in multiple media and trying to track it by asking when and where those who respond are seeing or hearing their ads.  While this certainly will give you a nice warm and fuzzy your are only judging response, not results and worse you are relying on the memory of your consumers, who are usually more than happy to "help" so they try and give you an answer regardles of whether or not it happens to be true.  The problem with putting little "test" items in your ads is that now you`re spending your ad dollars in attempt to see which media is working best, instead of advertising your business.  Your ads in different media (if you`re fortunate to be able to afford a multi-media campaign) all need to work together.  As the sum is greater than the whole of the parts.
    The reality is that any media can be successful for you if you use it correctly and for it`s strengths.  But not all media work in the same manner.  For instance you can`t just simply have someone read your newspaper ad and voila you`ve got a radio ad.  You also can`t just simply add pictures to your radio ad and have a tv ad.  well you could do all of those things, but you`d be making a critical error.
    So the question is how do you measure results in an unbiased way?  There is only one way I`ve ever seen that is foolproof and that is to look at your gross sales year to year.  If your sales are up against last year and against the market then whatever it is you`re doing is working.   So if you`re up 25% over last year and your competitors (as a whole) are only up 15%  Hooray you`re advertising is working.  However you`re advertising could be working equally well if your business is flat year to year but the market (your competitors) are down 15% .  It is this reason that I cringe at companies that Yank their advertising when the market starts to get tough.  When the market is tough and you`re fighting for every deal you need all the help you can get.  It`s the LAST time you are going to want to pull your advertising.  In fact i`ve known companies that have increased their ad expenditures to pick up market share in down economies.  Take for instance the mortgage industry right now.  Things are getting tougher with the interest rates going up.  The Johnny Come Lately mortgage brokers are struggling to hang on, and 90% of them are pulling their ads.  But have you noticed you`re seeing more and more ditech ads?  They`ve increased their advertising expenditures because they know that like all things cyclical that one day the market is going to rebound and when it does they`ll have been dominating consumers with their message and gaining "mind share"
     
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