Improving the effectiveness of your advertising

As a small business owner, you’ll want to get positive returns on a limited marketing budget. It’s important to monitor the quantity and quality of advertising in order to be as effective as possible.

Choose advertising you can monitor

It’s impossible to measure the exact returns from investing in building your brand. A familiar saying is, ‘I know that half my advertising is wasted – I just don’t know which half.’ However, most small businesses can’t afford to advertise for brand awareness. They need a return on their investment.

If you have a limited marketing budget, you need to give preference to advertising methods that you can measure.

The importance of monitoring

What you don’t measure you can’t manage. To get the most out of your advertising budget you need to monitor the results so that you can:

  • Work out if the promotion is generating sufficient sales to give you a satisfactory return on your investment (ROI).
  • Check if the promotion is reaching its intended target market.
  • Check timing and seasonality, like which day of the week or time of day to send out email newsletters.

How can you measure your advertising?

The main methods of measuring your advertising include:

  • Web analytics. Tracking how consumers are getting to your website, enabling you to compile statistics on each online advert you have.
  • Coding your adverts. This could be a clip-out order form at the bottom of a newspaper or magazine advert, or as part of a direct mail package.
  • Coded discount coupons. These can be redeemed against a product or service purchase.
  • Making a special offer. If your offer, such as a reduced price or a bundled extra, only appears in one medium (such as a radio advert) the results automatically identify the advertising source.

These methods allow you to identify the sources accurately. In addition, you can survey results through your daily business processes by:

  • Questioning customers at the point of sale how they heard about your trade business.
  • Asking the same question when people phone your business.
  • Getting customers to fill in a questionnaire (perhaps with free entry to a competition as an incentive).
  • Conducting a sample telemarketing survey.

Record your results and use them

It’s vital you employ these tactics consistently. Then, record the results – there’s no point in tracking this data if you’re not going to use it.

Refine and improve your advertising

Use your results to refine and improve your advertising. For example, if you’re an electrician, you could place an advert in two city newspapers using different headlines and advert layouts to see which ad generates the best results.

Choose low-budget methods first

Television and radio advertising work through repetition and require a substantial budget. Try cheaper methods first before you attempt more expensive options. Consider:

  • Direct marketing. These could be brochures targeted at consumers you believe may be interested in what you’re offering.
  • Social media. Find out how you can make best use of the Internet to get your business name out there. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are just a few – the options are endless.
  • Publicity. Can you get your business name in the public eye through local sponsorship or a news article that relates to the community?

The most common advertising mistakes

Eliminate these mistakes from your advertising and you’re well on the way to getting better value for your marketing budget.

Having no call to action

Many good adverts fail because there’s no call to action. The reader, viewer or listener may be persuaded but they’re not told what to do next.

Effective adverts include some key points that encourage the customer to take action now through decision drivers such as:

  • Deadlines.
  • Discounts or special offers.
  • Bundled goods.
  • Entry into a competition.
  • Limited stock.

Missing a compelling headline

The start of your advertisement is the most important. An effective advert or direct marketing letter has to capture the attention of your potential customers through a compelling headline.

No unique selling point (USP)

While your headline pulls readers in, your text needs to entice them to read on. It won’t do this if it focuses on features instead of benefits.

People aren’t interested in how many bells and whistles your product or service has. They’re interested in how your product or service could transform their lives. The more effectively this competitive edge or USP is portrayed, the better the results are likely to be.

Amateurish layouts

It’s important to recognize our strengths and limitations. Advertising is a specialized activity and you need to understand the nature of each medium – such as direct marketing, print ads, radio, TV, and the Internet. Also consider what will work for your products or services.

Relying on ‘desktop publishing’ programs to produce your own adverts rarely produces credible or professional results. Get help from a copywriter or an advertising consultant.

Inappropriate medium

Advertising starts with market research and targeting your market. Choose the right medium for your products and services without being seduced along the way by ‘special offers.’

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