The key to small business marketing success is testing your message. If you’re not doing it, then how can you know if your efforts are working?
Small Business Advertising Success Secret: TEST – TEST – TEST!
Testing your marketing message is critically important for small business marketing success. If you’re not testing your marketing message, you can’t make it better. If you’re not measuring your marketing, then you can’t test your marketing message.
Testing your marketing message
Many small business owners don’t measure or test their marketing messages. Some don’t know where to start. Others aren’t confident they can do it.
Previously I’ve shared other essential keys to creating successful advertising for your small business. In Small Business Advertising Success Secret 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 messages you use creatively and consistently.
In Small Business Advertising Success Secret: Advertising builds trust 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.
All the advertising secrets in the world won’t help if you’re not testing the effectiveness of your marketing message.
Testing the effectiveness of your marketing message.
I’d say that testing is the most overlooked part of small business advertising. Without testing, you’ll never know if the assumptions you made in the beginning are valid or not.
Whenever I would talk with my clients about testing, they would want to test their message before they launched a campaign. Unfortunately, that’s not how testing works. Sure, you can make an educated guess before launch, but that’s all it is. An educated guess. The only way to truly test a campaign is to run some ads. Marketing is about constantly measuring and testing and improving along the way.
There are many ways of “testing” your marketing message. In my book Beyond the Niche, I warn small business owners against relying too heavily some common ways of measuring marketing results. For example, coupons aren’t always the best way of “testing” your marketing message.
Testing your marketing message
After I wrote Beyond the Niche, Groupon launched, offering discounts for local businesses .This is very attractive to small business owners because they don’t pay for the service up front. Instead, Groupon takes a percentage of each deal sold to cover their expenses. In the early days, businesses had to present their deal to Groupon. According to Groupon, 70% of the deals initially presented from small business owners were rejected. Why? Because Groupon recognized the offer isn’t “compelling.” Since Groupon only makes money when people click to buy, they have a vested interest in offering compelling discounts from their business partners. As a result, most of the initial deals small business owners wanted to offer were rejected.
This is in stark contrast to the way traditional ways coupons are delivered. A direct mail company isn’t going to refuse to take your money because the coupon you created isn’t “compelling.” You’re paying up front to deliver that coupon, so you are the master of the message. Whether the coupon is “compelling” or not is your business, not theirs.
That’s why it is dangerous to rely on coupons to measure success. If your offer/discount isn’t compelling, it will affect redemption rates.
Your message may be “on point” – but your offer isn’t lucrative enough to get them to remember to use the coupon. You could just trash a perfectly good marketing message because there weren’t enough coupons redeemed even though sales improved. Let’s be honest, most coupon offers are lame. Offering a 10% discount isn’t going to motivate anyone to use a coupon for a $10 item. Keep in mind most Groupon deals are in the 50% off range.
Effective Marketing Message Testing Tips
One of the most important elements in effectively “testing” your marketing message is to remove variables from the equation. If you remember from math class the more variables in an 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.
Call to Action
One of my favorite call to actions is to visit the website for a freebie. I use this often, especially with clients advertising on television. I would have to fight tooth and nail with productions company over this. Many would fight to replace visiting the website with asking viewers to CALL the company. It’s a lot harder to track phone calls that it is to measure website visitors.
If you’re using “visit the website” as a call to action, be sure to set up a way to measure. Sometimes we’d use a special folder or sub-domain. When someone responded to the “call to action” – we could measure how many people responded and which media buy sent them there.
Once this system is in place – you can then measure and test the marketing copy.
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. 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.
One of the most important aspects to marketing success is testing. Don’t rely on coupons as a measurement for your small business marketing, To effectively test, remove variables from the equation and test what messaging resonates with your customers. This will help you discover what works best and then capitalize on that message in order to grow sales.
If you want to know how marketing is working for your small business, it’s important that you make sure the variables in your test are consistent. We like to get rid of everything but one variable at a time and then measure what happens when we change just this one thing. This will help us understand if there was actually something wrong with our ads or content all along-or if we simply changed the wording on an offer without realizing it had such a big impact.
What has been working well for you?
Edited October 25, 2021 for content