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Measuring Advertising Effectiveness Are your ads getting results? Here's how to find out.

Just as important as creating a strong marketing plan isfollowing through on the results. How will you know which ads areworking if you don't analyze the results? Check theeffectiveness of your advertising programs regularly by using oneor more of the following tests:

1. Run the same ad in two different publications with adifferent identifying mark on each. Ask customers to clip the adand bring it in for a discount or free sample. Or, if you'rerunning an ad that asks customers to order by mail, put a code inyour company address such as "Dept. SI." By looking atthe marks on the clipped ads or the addresses on the mail-inorders, you'll be able to tell which ad pulled better.

2. Offer a product at slightly different prices in differentmagazines. This has the added benefit of showing whether consumerswill buy your product at a higher price.

3. Advertise an item in one ad only. Don't have any signs orotherwise promote the item in your store or business. Then countthe calls, sales or special requests for that item. If you getcalls, you'll know the ad is working.

4. Stop running an ad that you regularly run. See if droppingthe ad affects sales.

5. Check sales results whenever you place an ad for the firsttime.

Checks like these will give you some idea how your advertisingand marketing program is working. Be aware, however, that youcan't expect immediate results from an ad. Especially withsmall ads-the type most entrepreneurs are likely to be running-youneed to give the reader a "getting to know you" periodduring which he gets to feel comfortable with your business.

One study showed that an ad from a new company has to be noticedby a prospect a total of nine times before that prospect becomes acustomer. The bad news: Two out of every three times you expose aprospect to your marketing message, it's ignored. That meansyou have to expose a customer to your message an average of 27times before he or she will buy.

Evaluate an ad's cost-effectiveness, too. Consider the CPM.A cheaper ad is no bargain if it doesn't reach many of yourprospects.

Excerpted from Start Your Own Business: The Only Start-UpBook You'll Ever Need, by Rieva Lesonsky and the Staff ofEntrepreneur Magazine, © 1998 Entrepreneur Press

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