If You Don’t Measure It, You Can’t Tell If It is Working

by Brad S

I talk to a lot of small business owners who advertise in a lot of different publications and formats.   When asked if what they are doing is working, the usual answer I get is, “I think so,” or some other variation of that. When I ask them how they know it is working or not, I often get blank stares or something like, “it seems busier lately or I overheard someone mention how they heard about us.”

Once I hear this, I am the one who has a blank stare.  The reason for this is that business owners are spending a good amount of money trying to get people to be aware of their business but don’t systematically track their advertising and marketing efforts to see which mediums and messages are best working to get new customers or clients.

And that means, they are throwing away their own money!   It is like opening their wallets or purses and taking the hard-earned cash and doing nothing productive with it.   It doesn’t make sense to do that, does it?  Yet, it happens every day.

One of the the things that clients of mine know is that I will track what is working and what is not working to the best of our abilities.  Does that mean we are going to know at 100% level of accuracy where customers and clients are coming from? No, because that’s almost impossible unless you are doing direct sales from the Internet or something similar.   It does mean, however, that we have a system in place to track leads and customers so we minimize the waste.

And we work with our clients so that they develop systems to track leads and customers.  And that means, even with our fees, they come out spending less money and getting better returns on their advertising and marketing dollars.  We help eliminate the waste and focus efforts on having the right message with the right medium to reach the right people who are ready to buy at the right time.

Let’s look at an example.  Our client primarily advertised on television and in newspapers.  Their goal was to get people to come into their store and purchase great merchandise at a reasonable price.  The challenge was that they didn’t know which method was working best or at all.  A customer came in and either bought or not.  A customer either visited the website and bought or maybe signed up for a newsletter if he or she could find it on the website.  Plus, there was not any systematic testing of different  messages to see which resonate better with potential customers.    Besides the focus around a specific holiday, therefore, there wasn’t a way to try different messages out to see which ones work better.

Why is it important to try different messages? Because words matter.   They matter greatly!  Here’s a real life example, though I have changed the product to protect my client.

1st Headline Message: 7 Widget Buying Mistakes

2nd Headline Message: Avoid Widget Buying Mistakes

3rd Headline Message: Free Widget Buying Guide

Can you take a guess how each one of them has done when real life consumers have actually seen the words while looking for the widgets?

While I won’t tell you yet, I will tell you that one of them has gotten none, that’s right, zero response.  

[headline_arial_medium_left color=”#000000″]And one of them has outperformed the second one by 65.38%![/headline_arial_medium_left]

What does this mean in money terms?  Well, let’s say you did a $2,000 ad buy in a newspaper that reached 50,000 people. (By the way, don’t deceive yourself into thinking everyone who gets a paper is seeing your ad or even if they see it, is in the market for your product or service. I am not a big fan of newspaper advertising for that reason, though it does have its place for some types of businesses)  What would that difference mean in terms of getting people into the store or to visit the website, which would, we hope lead them to the next step of buying.

Headline #1:  860 people inquire.  Cost per lead is $2.33.

Headline #2: 520 people inquire.  Cost per lead is $3.84

Headline #3: 0 people inquire.  Cost per lead is +$2,000! (I have to figure a few people are going to actually respond, despite what the data says.)

So, do you want to spend more or less to reach your potential audience?  I would suspect you want to spend less.  You won’t be able to do that, though, unless you start collecting the data you need and using it to better tailor your advertising and marketing efforts.

If you would like to discuss this further, please give me a call at 321-613-8476 or send me an e-mail at brad@justsmallbiz.com