An advertising maxim says what cannot be measured cannot be managed. Indeed, without some controls and testing, it can be very difficult to gauge the effect a given advertisement has had on sales. Strategic based “image advertising” is especially difficult to measure and even measuring the impact of more tactically oriented “sales” ads can be a challenge. It is important, however, to attempt to gauge the success of a given ad so that over the course of the campaign you can make adjustments that will improve the success of the series of ad efforts even when a single ad is not as effective as hoped.
One way to track advertising is to place a “promotion” code in the ad copy. When a consumer responds to the ad, they can give your office the prom code and you can ascertain to which advertisement the consumer is responding. In the absence of a prom code, always ask people who call your office how they heard of you. Keep a running tally to determine which have been your most effective marketing efforts.
If advertising in more than one media during the same time period, do not vary too many elements between the different ads. Otherwise, it may be difficult to ascertain whether consumers are responding to the difference in the media or the difference in ad copy or the offer being made.
Advertising can be vastly complex and varied. It can also be simple. Test your advertising with very inexpensive display and banner ads from local retailers or other inexpensive media – local fliers, postings, or low circulation media. For as little as a few dollars, many local yoga studios, spas, clothing boutiques and tanning salons will provide you with a display ad in their newsletter or a banner ad on their web site. The ad can be as simple as replicating your business card – Company Name, Logo, telephone number, personal name and a tag line. This type of advertising often carries with it the implied recommendation of the host, leveraging their close relationship with their own customers. When a concept does not work, determine why. You can learn as much from poor campaigns as from good ones. Often, adjustments can be made that will make an ad more successful, and by testing your efforts first, you can refine your advertising before placing it in what may be the most effective, but more expensive, media.
Remember, too, that the success of any marketing effort is not solely how many leads it generates. In fact, nothing can be quite so discouraging as to have an advertisement or a flier bring in a rush of unqualified leads. The number of “tire-kickers” that will respond to a price-driven cruise advertisement is truly astonishing. The real measure of success is how many qualified leads respond to your efforts. The focus needs to be on profitable revenue, not just a list of prospects of dubious seriousness about travel. There are a few things you can do to ensure success. To begin, examine your creative. What is the focus of the advertisement? Is it on the features of the travel, the quality and the experience? Or, are you driving leads to your door by focusing on the lowest possible price that can be legally advertised? Remember that clients won on the lowest price are lost on the promise of an even lower one. Where are you placing your ad? What is the demographic of its readership? Is it upscale? Is it mass market? Is it in the “Nickel Trader?”
There is nothing wrong with an advertisement generating a lot of bargain seeking prospects – if that is what you intend to do. Many times good clients are found amidst the rough. As a matter of intent, however, ensure that you are directing your advertising to the market that you seek. A good ad will pre-qualify the response. To effectively qualify, appeal to qualities other than low price. Describe the experience, evoke the quality. If you want to address bargains, speak to the price of an outside balcony cabin or a suite. It is highly likely that the response to such an advertisement will self-select.
With a little bit of testing and some efforts at tracking the success of your advertising, you can make adjustments to your campaign that will result in a refined, successful marketing effort.
Tomorrow – Final Considerations