Properly analyze your small business marketing

Even though I have heard this for years, it still amazes me that small business owners make broad generalized statements like: “The yellow pages never works.” I have heard similar statements about door hangers, yard signs, newspaper ads, and nearly every other form of advertising.

Having worked with and spoken to hundreds of small business owners, I have a pretty good sense of what motivates such comments. Typically, a contractor tries some form of advertising, gets poor results, and puts all of the blame on that particular media. Such analysis is superficial, erroneous, and a waste of time.

Many, many factors determine how effective a particular ad will be. Certainly on is the media used. But the ad itself is often to blame, yet few contractors stop to consider this fact. They blame the media, not their ad.

Consider an ad that states: “Lowest prices in town.” This is going to appeal to a certain type of person—the price shopper. The text in the ad will have a large impact on the types of calls—if any—that you get.

On the other hand, an ad that states: “The best value in town” is going to appeal to a much different clientele. Everything else about the ad could be the same, except for the headline, and you could experience dramatically different results.

Another factor that contributes to such hasty generalizations is the fact that very few small business owners properly track their leads. If you don’t know where your leads are coming from, it is impossible to properly analyze the ad’s effectiveness. And when I say know, I don’t mean guesses—I mean actual concrete numbers.

And that leads to the final error many small business owners make—they don’t compute their return on investment (ROI) for each ad. They go on “gut feeling”, which can be wildly inaccurate. Personally, when I get a “gut feeling” I usually take an antacid.

Before anyone can say that a particular media doesn’t work, he must compute his ROI accurately. Even then, all it tells him is that that particular ad did or did not work. Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater—a bad ad won’t draw well, and that isn’t the fault of the media.

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