Small Business Advertising Success Secret #3: Test – Test – Test
In the past few weeks – I’ve been sharing with you the essential keys to creating successful advertising for your small business. In Small Business Advertising Success Secret #1 I shared how gathering testimonials can help you discover the real reason people are buying your products or services. Once you’ve discovered why people are buying – you can then create a marketing message which you must then pound into your target audience like a broken record.
In Small Business Advertising Success Secret #2 I shared how those testimonials you gathered earlier can not only help you to develop the right marketing message – but they can also help establish trust with prospective customers.
So the third step in creating successful small business advertising should come as no surprise – it’s testing the effectiveness of your marketing message. I’d say that testing is the second most difficult aspect of successful small business advertising – following “define your target market and create a marketing message which speaks to them and solves their problems.”
Often – small business owners want to TEST their message before they launch the campaign. While it’s a lot like jumping off of a cliff – you’ve got to take the big step and launch the campaign BEFORE you begin testing.
There are many ways of “testing” your marketing message. In my book Beyond the Niche: Essential Tools You Need to Create Marketing Messages that Deliver Results I warn small business owners against relying too heavily on “traditional ” ways of measuring marketing results – like coupons – as a way of “testing” your marketing message. Since I wrote the book – a new “online marketing tool” has emerged known as Groupon. In case you didn’t know – Groupon offers discount coupons for local businesses to its subscribers. It’s been said that 70% of the deals initially presented to Groupon from small business owners are rejected by Groupon because the offer isn’t “compelling”. That is the key reason it is dangerous to rely on coupons to measure the success of your marketing message – it could be that the offer wasn’t compelling.
If your message is “on point” – but your coupon offer isn’t – it’s possible to “throw out the baby with the bath water” – trashing a perfectly good marketing message just because your coupon offer was for a measly 10% off of a $4 purchase.
One of the most important elements in effectively “testing” your marketing message is to remove variables from the equation. If you remember in math class – the more variables in the equation – the harder it was to solve. So your goal in testing your marketing message should be to remove as many “variables” from the equation.
So instead of testing your marketing message using a coupon – instead begin by testing your marketing message with a strong call to action. A “call to action” is just that – at the end of your advertising message you ask the target audience to DO something.
One of my favorites is to encourage them to visit the website for a freebie. I used this with a client once in his television advertising. I fought tooth and nail with the production company – who wanted to make the call to action for viewers to CALL the company instead of VISIT the website.
We set up a special folder and pointed a unique domain name to that folder. That way – when someone responded to the “call to action” – we could measure how many people came – and more importantly – how many people downloaded the special offer.
Now – with this system in place – we were able to measure the effect of changes to copy on the call to action page. We could also monitor how changing the channel we were airing the message on changed the number of people visiting the special url.
Big companies have big budgets so they can “afford” to make mistakes with their advertising. When you’re a small business – every dollar you spend on advertising is crucial – it HAS to work. That’s why it’s so important to test – test – test your marketing messages and why I prefer to use the web – and log files – to do that testing – instead of allowing a coupon to carry that weight.