Small Business Ideas

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Marketing Effectiveness – Measuring Results

by Taylor White

Call me old-fashioned, but reading the Sunday paper is one of the highlights of my week. I love sifting through each section, then the ads, comics, and real estate as I sip my coffee on the back porch. I realize I’m a dying breed and that I can read the same articles on my iPad, but somehow it’s not the same if you don’t get newsprint on your fingers. Though there’s probably an app for that.

Anyway, I was reading my old-school paper yesterday and came across a brief article that mentioned Baywatch, potato chips, beer and advertising in the first sentence. Naturally I continued. Turns out it was news that Walker potato chips, a U.K. brand, won an award for effectiveness at a fancy advertising awards ceremony in France. The campaign itself sounded pretty cool – they hired Pamela Anderson and other celebrities to make surprise appearances at a small British town. Of course it didn’t take long for the footage to appear all over the web, and good things happened quickly for Walkers. Media outlets picked up the story and before long they had more shelf space and an incredible 26% increase in sales. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/06/25/ap/extras/main20074414.shtml

The campaign was unique and with those results no doubt deserved to win, but I was amazed to learn it was the first time the industry presented an award based on the effectiveness of ad campaigns. Maybe it’s been drilled into my head for so many years, but before starting any campaign I automatically think about how it’s going to be measured. Having a catchy jingle is nice, but who cares if you can’t remember the product name? Results are critical! I’ve been on both the client and agency side, and either way there’s an accountability that accompanies a significant marketing spend. Whether you’re a small business committing a few thousand or a large corporation with millions in the budget, you still have to follow a plan and determine if it worked.

But of course measuring results is easier said than done. Some products – such as potato chip sales – are relatively easy to track, but others not so much. Which is probably why many small business owners don’t even bother. And also why so many campaigns fail.

The good news is if you do take the time to put some thought and parameters into your marketing you’re already ahead of many competitors. The critical thing is to set objectives and know up front what you’re hoping to accomplish. Keep in mind it doesn’t have to be sales. Results can be tracked by hits on your website, foot traffic through your doors, number of new patients per month, increased spend for existing customers, exposure to key prospects, increased brand awareness, etc. A 26% increase in sales based on a single event isn’t the norm and probably not realistic, but success can be measured in numerous ways.

A final note – I strongly believe that as a business owner there are some things you do simply because it’s the right thing to do. Goodwill is not easy to measure – volunteering your time or resources might not get you a quick sales increase – but it’s worth it. If you build relationships, increase your network and get involved in your community those things will pay off for you in the long run. Immeasurably.

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