Small Business Department
How Can I Become a Marketing Genius?
By Alan Sartain
I am often asked, “How can I develop marketing that works?” The answer is quite simple. You don’t. Instead, let the market tell you what works by testing and measuring. To help you understand this principle, I will once again introduce you to Joe from Joe’s Plumbing. Joe grew his business rapidly through effective lead generation and conversion while increasing the number of transactions, average dollar sales, and margin. He then put the systems in place to create a successful enterprise that worked without him. He now wants to increase his business with an aggressive print and television campaign. I agree that this makes sense but not without testing and measuring the campaign first.
Why is testing important? We don’t realize it but we test everything in our daily lives. Imagine that you want to buy a new mattress. You will most likely go to the store and try out a new mattress before you buy it. When you go shopping at the supermarket, someone is usually standing in the aisle with samples for you to try before you buy a product. You even check the weather before selecting your clothing for the day. See… we test and measure all the time… we just don’t think about it.
Yet businesses persist in embarking on expensive marketing campaigns with little or no idea of the outcome. These same businesses will spend thousands of dollars on an ad campaign and hope they get a response. I firmly believe in testing a new ad campaign before the majority of the budget is committed. Joe may have a tremendous marketing idea… but, face it…no one knows with certainty, the outcome of a new campaign. I recommended to Joe, to commit 10 – 15% of the new campaign budget and test for the outcomes.
This then leads to the balance of the phrase… testing and measuring. There is little point in going to the trouble of conducting a test in the first place unless one follows through with some type of analysis of the results. Imagine trying that new bed out and not paying any attention to the firmness and overall sleep comfort. Not reasonable…is it? You would instantly compare this new bed to your old one as well as other new beds you were considering… wouldn’t you? You would have your own form of measurement to compare the bed with others. Your taste is also a form of measurement when you try those samples in the supermarket. If you lost your ability to taste… why bother trying the sample at all? I believe you get my point!
Now, back to Joe… there is no point in testing the outcome of any type of marketing campaign with no measurement of the outcome. Careful measurement and analysis of the results of a test campaign will provide much needed information on which to base decisions. The results of the measurement will quantify the success of the test campaign. The results can then be extrapolated to test the soundness of the campaign.
Using the AIDA advertising principle (see last September’s article to learn more on AIDA) and a little creativity, Joe came up with three headlines: A, B, and C. Even though he was planning on using one of these headlines in a full-page ad and on television, he tested the headlines in three one-eighth page ads over three months. The table shows the results and helped Joe choose Headline B even though he liked headline C better. An important thing to remember is that it doesn’t matter what you like, it only matters what your customers like. Often business owners waste a tremendous amount of money running ads that appeal to them, forgetting that they may not be in the target audience for the ad.
Joe went on to use the headline from ad B, experienced a significant response, and an additional $100,000 in profit over the time he ran that particular campaign. Before you commit to a significant advertising expenditure, test and measure the ad and the market will help you become a marketing genius.