Campaign Ready?

Ok, your new advertising looks great. But how will you ensure its success?
Magazine Contributor
4 min read

This story appears in the July 2000 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

After months of hard work, your new advertising campaign is ready to launch. The copy is well-written, the graphics look sharp, and you're confident the special offer will make your phone ring off the hook. But how will you ensure the success of your campaign? Even terrific advertising won't get results if the right people don't see it or if it's difficult to take advantage of your offer. Here are three ways to make sure your new ad campaign gets results:

1. Advertise in the right place. If you're like many busy entrepreneurs, you sometimes spread your marketing efforts too thin by trying to serve a broad range of prospects. But advertising works best when it targets a narrow audience with common characteristics and needs. So before you place your campaign, pinpoint the narrowest possible target audience for your advertising campaign and choose the publications or broadcast media that reach them with the least amount of waste.

For example, let's say your business successfully appeals to two professional groups-lawyers and architects. You might choose to advertise in general business publications that reach both groups, but you'd end up paying for the large percentage of the circulation that reaches other types of business owners. Instead, use a cost-efficient approach to improve your advertising results by advertising in media that narrowly target each audience separately.

Avoid advertising in media that appear efficient-those that reach your exact audience with little waste-but aren't perceived as sources of information for what you're marketing. A better idea: Run your advertising in a recognized "search corridor"-a place prospects frequent when looking for information on something they want to buy. Search corridors are created when a publication, such as a newspaper, runs a particular type of advertising and related editorial in a specific section of the paper-such as by running all the home-decorating ads inside the style section.

2. Run at the right time. Suppose your company sells PC hardware and software, and your city newspaper has created a search corridor for PC sales and service by clustering all the ads and editorial together on Mondays in the business section. Every Monday, the section is chock-full of competing ads, so you decide to run your ad on Tuesday to help it stand out. Have you made the right decision? Not even close-running your ad outside the search corridor is like opening your store a mile away from the mall. You can expect much less traffic and far fewer sales as a result.

No ad can or will succeed unless it appears with enough frequency for its message to penetrate into the psyche of its target audience. "Frequency" doesn't refer to the number of times you run your ad; rather, it refers to the number of times your target audience can be expected to see your ad. A full-page, four-color ad placed once in a trade magazine, for example, might be seen by only 70 percent of the subscriber base, giving it a frequency of 0.7. The main point is this: a single ad has to run numerous times in order for its message to be remembered by the target audience.

3. Remove all barriers. Countless terrific ad campaigns have failed because the advertisers unwittingly put up sales barriers that thwarted respondents. Things like a continually busy phone line, out-of-stock products or even an uninformed staff can place insurmountable barriers in the way of the success of your advertising campaign. Whether you have as few as 10 employees in your company or as many as 100 employees, thoroughly instruct everyone who handles the phones exactly how to handle the callers. Make sure they are fully aware of exactly how to move the prospects to the next level-by closing a sale, making an appointment, processing an order or fulfilling the offer that was put in your advertising.

Track the sources of all responses generated by specific media in a database and then utilize this important information to fine-tune your advertising campaign. Over time, the data you've gathered will help you weed out the poor performers and allow you to fully concentrate your advertising dollars where they're sure to generate the highest return.

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