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Advertising Measurement Tool

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This post is a follow up on “Can Anyone Truly Measure Advertising” post started by Joe Marconi, October 23, 2007


I am working on a marketing tool and looking for some feedback. Basically seeking suggestions and a “want” list for a tool that measures and shows what advertising actually works (and how to squeeze maximum return from your marketing dollars). Your feedback or thoughts much appreciated.


One of the most difficult parts of any marketing is finding out what advertisement works. There is an old joke that only 50% of advertising works – the tough part is figuring out WHICH 50% is working... and then stop doing the stuff that doesn't work!


There is an endless variety of marketing options but finding what works in your local area and for your individual business is a big challenge. If you are spending on marketing without measuring the results (shotgun approach) you ARE wasting a LOT of money (and risk being discouraged from essential marketing). While measuring marketing success is not impossible, it can be a huge sink hole of your time and money. The fear of wasting marketing dollars, and the cost of finding what works, are the biggest reason small business owners are reluctant to spend on advertising.


I have been thinking about building an easy to use online service that will clearly answer the 50% question (along with providing two other big benefits). The way I envision this solution is there are three things it needs to do for you:

  1. provide quick and accurate measurement of a specific advertisement's effectiveness (response and source);
  2. provide no-cost or “free” marketing by enabling people to share your offer with all their friends (amplify ad reach);
  3. automatically build a mailing list for direct, targeting re-marketing to people who have shown interest in your services.

Why Bother?


There is a need. Yes, there are numerous marketing systems available now (Dukky, Hubspot, Salesforce, Infusionsoft, etc.) but they are aimed at high-end of market and require a huge investment of effort and $$$. These services are not interested in the little guy (small business). I feel there is a need for a simple to use tool that provides key information and marketing assistance in a way that doesn't require a PhD to understand, or selling your soul to afford. Simple to setup campaigns. Data presented in easy to visualize graphical dashboard.


Your Thoughts?


What I would appreciate from you is some feedback. Specifically I am looking for comments on what information or features you would like in a marketing tool?


P.S. This is not a pipe dream... I have 35+ years as an auto repair tech, shop owner, technical educator, web developer, and online marketing professional. I understand the auto repair industry, marketing, and web development. A unique combination of skills and experience that not too many people have. So please don't think your comments will be a waste of time... ;-)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks for your thoughts Jeff!


From what I have seen manual advertising tracking may work for a small, hands-on shop owner who has the time and knowledge to do everything. But manual tracking is not really practical for a busy shop. Usually it starts with good intention but gets forgotten about very quickly.


If I am not mistaken Mitchell only tracks what is manually entered through keyboard. Someone must collect the advertising response data from customers, who may not remember which and where they saw your ad, or unwilling to provide info, then they must decide (know) what data to enter or not, and then they have to manually type all this data into Mitchell. Just not practical on a daily basis from what I have seen.


To get complete and accurate info you need a system that will automatically collect the data from ANY marketing, store in database, organize and tabulate the data, present it in a usable (understandable) way, and, most importantly, suggest reasons for the numbers and actions to fix it. This is what a marketing performance system can do for you. And a successful measurement system must be simple to use.


The major problem with manual tracking is that it just another sink hole of precious time during your busy day. Most employees (shop owners) won't be bothered when they have more pressing needs for their time. Same thing with entering into data a spreadsheet. If the resulting data is not consistent and accurate the results can't be trusted... and the whole tracking process becomes a low priority and quickly forgotten. And don't forget that all that work (employee or owner) has a labor cost which further adds to expense side of income statement.


Manual tracking also makes it difficult to identify which ad is working (or not working!). If you have multiple ads on any one distribution platform (e.g. ad mail postcard, newspaper, online ads, etc.) there is no way to accurately identify which ad campaign brought the customer in. Imagine doing multiple Google Adword ads and not being able to see which ads people were clicking on. A guessing game and huge waste of marketingdollars!


Sure you could require people to bring in a coupon but many people don't like to do this, or just honestly forget to do so. And response rate falls off quickly when people are forced to clip and bring in coupons. You end up giving them the discount anyways and you never truly know what advertisement brought them in. Also, you have to pay your employees to collect, verify, document which coupon is connected to a specific new customer and then tabulate all this data. When people are lined up to get their car at closing time all that extra work often gets forgotten about... and the data collected is then inaccurate and not worth the overall effort.


The most serious problem with manual tracking is that once all this data is collected most shop owners don't know what it means. Just like your financial income statement/balance sheet if you don't know what the resulting numbers mean the report ends up stuffed in a filing cabinet and you are back to flying by the seat of your pants. That is when uncertainty causes most small business people to become fearful of wasting money on advertising.

Just like a financial accountant, a marketing performance analysis will tell you what is working, what is not working, and what should be done to correct or improve your advertising results. Then you can test: change the ad, check the results, and repeat until it works. This is the only way to truly know what advertising works and get maximum return on your marketing spend. This is what shifts marketing from an “expense” to the profit maker it should be.

Edited by RobMax
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Question, how would a shop differentiate itself using this method?


Business differentiation would not be something my marketing performance system would do. Differentiation is a totally separate process.


Differentiation is part of the branding of a business and is used in marketing to make a business standout from their competition. A shop needs to differentiate itself before creating an ad (you need to know who you are before you can effectively tell someone else about yourself). A marketing performance system such as I am proposing measures what happens after an ad is published. It would not “make” the ad.


Although differentiating a business from the competition has a huge positive impact on advertisement response rate, it is part of the "creative" aspect of the ad. There are three basic components to advertisement delivery:

  1. Creative and Production (design and making of ad);
  2. Delivery (placing ad in front of people – ad mailers, direct mail, print ads, online ads, radio, TV, etc.)
  3. Measurement & Analysis (who, where, and why of ad response)

I am developing a marketing performance system that focuses on how people interact with and connect to your advertisement (#3).


If there was some sort of criteria or profile the shop will follow, that would work. As you already know, it cannot be a cookie cutter approach. it must be targeted.


You are correct that cookie cutter approach does not work if you want to differentiate your business (and have effective advertising). But my mother used to say “You can't have your cake, and eat it too”. Too many shop owners want the economy and lack of effort that comes with “cookie cutter” marketing, but want the better results of personalized (custom) advertisements. Sorry. Just doesn't work that way.


And shops should be glad advertising is not easy. Huh? If it was everyone would do it and there would be no advantage for businesses who do make the effort.


So what can shops do? They need to clearly differentiate themselves by telling the story of who and what they are – basically what makes them special. Humans are story tellers. It is a deep emotional need. We use stories to judge and make decisions. This is one of the reasons why online reviews are so powerful. They are little stories that fit together and build a picture of who you are, what you do, how you act, and, most importantly, how you will likely act in the future. That is trust building in action.


There is no way good marketing can be produced without intimate knowledge of how a business operates. Either the management is actively involved in the creative process of marketing, or they have to pay someone to learn about your company (a slow, very expensive process) and then do the necessary ad creative work. And any marketing company that says they can create marketing materials with just a 15 minute phone conversation is just using boiler plate advertising where they simply change the name, address, and phone number. And the results speak for themselves...


What separates you from the shop down the block is your story (differentiate). Only the shop owner/manager can tell that story in a way that NEW customers will believe. And trust is the number one deciding factor in whether or not a prospect becomes a paying customer. Ads drive people to your website, you tell your story on your website, and your story is supported and verified by other people's stories in online reviews about you. At that point they will pick up the phone and call you with a much greater confidence in your shop (trust in what you say you will do).


I also think that many shop owners shy away from advertising simply because it becomes an EXPENSE, a drain on the business, rather that a revenue generator.

Your correct again. Advertising IS an expense IF it doesn't work. Marketing must attract PROFITABLE customers or it is an outright waste that sucks up your profit. There is an old joke that only 50% of advertising works. The trouble is you don't know which half to quit doing...


Getting advertising to work is not easy. The number of variables of what and where to do it are huge and unique to every business. There is no set fool-proof criteria any business can use or else “everyone” would just do it and there would be no advantage. This comes full circle back to the marketing performance information gap that shop owners suffer from (and paralysis them from doing any advertising) and I intend to help with. If you don't know the who, where, and why for your advertising results you will not have the confidence in spending on advertising.


The real problem is WHICH advertising is not working for YOU, and not advertising as a whole. There is a very good reason billions of dollars are spent on advertising every year – get it to work and you have a profitable business. Unless you are very lucky, shotgun advertising without good feedback and evaluation it won't provide adequate ROI to make it worth the effort. Continuing to spend blindly on advertising will only result in eventual business failure.


Can you give more details? Perhaps a scenario?


I'll answer this in another reply thread... after I make another cup of coffee...

Edited by RobMax
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