Is Your Advertising Working? How to Evaluate Your Ad Program

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In today's competitive marketplace, it is essential to understand what you expect to get from your advertising, and how you will measure the program's success or failure.
This article explores some of the things that advertising can do, and how to determine whether or not your advertising is accomplishing its mission.
Most of the time, you are looking to your advertising to do one of two things.
You either want to generate leads for your business, or you want to build up your brand.
Depending on which of these two goals you have, there are different ways of measuring your results.
For lead generation, you want to be able to quantify those prospects who have come to you through your advertising.
So you need to devise a method of measuring responses to specific offerings.
Couponing If you can offer coupons, they are one of the best ways to track your advertising response.
With a small discount offer, you can gather lots of information on who is seeing your advertising and responding to it.
Coupons also give you a great deal of control.
You can determine how many responses you want, and only offer enough coupons to generate that response.
And you can manage the timing of coupons.
You can have all your coupons hit at the same time, or spread them out, depending on how you distribute them and what you use for an expiration date.
800# Like a coupon, this is a very direct way to measure your response.
You can use either one 800 # to track your whole program, or you can use separate 800#s to track the individual vehicles in your program.
This may be a better route to go if you are selling a B2B product/service, as opposed to a consumer product.
A less expensive option, but one that requires care on the part of whoever answers your telephone, is to list an extension number in your ad.
Have everyone respond to the same telephone number, but use different extensions for different product offerings.
You can, of course, use extensions that don't really exist, as long as your telephone person understands how to route the phone call when it comes in.
Can you track hits to your website? Most web hosting services will provide a way for you to track hits to your site.
You may want to set up an automatic report, if possible, to see how much activity your site has.
In this method, you are sending people to your site with your ad copy, but of course, your site must then be a strong selling medium because you will not have the opportunity to talk with the prospect yourself.
All the selling will be done on the website, and you probably won't get a second chance with your prospect.
With any of the three methods discussed above, be sure that your ad copy only gives prospects one way to respond.
Research indicates that ad response is higher if you only give prospects one way to respond.
If your main goal is to build your brand, your company's persona in the marketplace, then you will be less concerned with immediate response, and more interested in the long term results of your advertising.
You will need to think about how your advertising is changing prospects' perceptions of your company, and how you are creating awareness, and thus preference, for your products and services.
Has your name recognition increased among your prospects? This is essentially branding advertising, and it works on the theory that prospects would rather buy from someone they know than from someone they don't.
You need to do some research before your campaign breaks, so that you have a benchmark against which to measure your program's results.
Then you run your campaign.
Now go back and redo your research exactly the same way, but hopefully with different respondents, and see what your results have been.
This is actually a very good way to measure your program, because it isolates the advertising.
It isn't dependent on whether your prospects actually had contact with a sales rep, tested the product, or took any other action.
All of those factors come after the advertising, and wouldn't be part of this kind of survey.
Is your advertising bringing you good, active leads? Sometimes an ad campaign will bring you a lot of leads, but nobody buys.
It is always a good idea to have a system to track leads, so that you can tell if your prospect is a tire kicker, or if they are really serious about buying.
This is easier if you are selling a product that has a longer, more complex sales cycle.
You should track the prospect through the sales cycle, and see if your advertising is bringing you people who are at least going through a few steps in the cycle.
If they are not, you may want to reconsider how you are positioning your brand.
Your message needs to reflect all of what you are about, your attitude toward your customers, what's behind your name, all those things that make up your brand.
You want your customers to understand what makes you unique, and why they should buy from you.
This is especially important if your product is at parity with your competition.
By knowing what you want your advertising to do, and carefully measuring every campaign, you can fine tune your program to ensure its maximum effectiveness.
And that will bring you a greater return on your investment.
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