Four Steps to Make Ads More Effective

How to test and measure marketing results to save time and money.

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By Brad Sugars

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There are two words that can make all the difference when it comes to advertising and marketing: Test and measure.

In addition to saving you time and money, testing and measuring the results of your advertising and marketing initiatives will increase your profit margins, enable you to systemize what works and identify what doesn't. Here are four steps to help you make the most of your advertising efforts.

  1. Follow the TOC formula. Target, offer, copy. These are the three elements that make up the foundation of a strong ad.

    Assuming you know your target market, your ad should be placed where those potential customers will see it. If you don't know your market, that's the first thing you need to figure out when determining the viability of your business. If there's no market, your business is not viable.

    When writing your headline, be sure to include a specific offer. Go old school and pick up a copy of the Claude Hopkins classic Scientific Advertising or David Ogilvy's Ogilvy on Advertising to see how the greats did it. You can also search online to find out how the online marketers pull this off.

    Finally, your copy needs to include a call to action -- something to prompt potential customers to call you, visit your website or get in touch with you somehow.Start with test ads. These could be classified ads, small space ads or even online ads via Google.
  2. Start with test ads. These could be classified ads, small space ads or even online ads via Google.

    One of my favorite stories about the effectiveness of testing ads is from writer Ian Ayres, who thought "The End of Intuition" would be a great name for his new book. So he did a test run with Google AdWords and discovered that the title "Super Crunchers" attracted 63 percent more responses.

    Such a test is an easy and inexpensive way to determine if your product or service offering is indeed on target.
  3. Track responses. If you are targeting the right market with a decent offer and a clear call to action, then you should generate some response.

    Now it's time to examine what you could do to boost that response, modify your winning ad and test it again. If your ads don't generate any response, kill them and move on.
  4. Prune, modify, increase. Once you've found something that works you can branch out and expand. If you are running a small classified ad, for instance, try a bigger display ad.

    If you're advertising online, increase your daily pay-per-click amounts or try new niches. Over time, you'll find your sweet spot and ultimately learn to manage your marketing resources more effectively.

Remember, once you do the hard work upfront, you'll be more effective in the overall process -- and in finding your winners and killing your losers. But you can only get to that point by testing and measuring what you do. The numbers will ultimately be your guide to success.

Brad Sugars

Brad Sugars is the founder and chairman of ActionCOACH. As an entrepreneur, author and business coach, he has owned and operated more than two dozen companies including his main company, ActionCOACH, which has more than 1,000 offices in 34 countries.

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