What advertising is working?: Perception vs. reality

I recently asked a new Portland 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?

Note: This piece originally appeared as a forum posting on the StartupNation community forum.

© 2006 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

1 comment:

Paul's Furniture said...

I read your post and it hit home. Thanks for posting this it will help my company focus our advertising.