Top Mistakes In Advertising & How To Avoid Them: Part 1 of a 10 Part Series: Ad Testing & Tracking

It strikes me that there are quite a number of opportunities out there for you to showcase your product or service using just about any form of media, and that’s fantastic. There is, as you have probably discovered, certainly no shortage of media players and opportunities to pick from.

What I found the most powerful is utilizing all of those resources to their respective individual and then collective advantages.

Sometimes things work wonderfully well using the more traditional radio, television, newspaper, magazine, maybe out of home advertising. More recently some advertisers have had some success with one or more of the social media platforms and that’s terrific. I think they should all be embraced and all form part of your media mix.

Please make no mistake that it should genuinely be a mix of media because you never know exactly which particular component is going to pull the trigger and get your target group to say… That’s for me, that’s the product that I want!

Your service is exactly what I’m after. You want to make sure you give yourself every opportunity to be seen and to be heard to promote whatever service or product you have out there. You want to stand head and shoulders above the crowd, in front of as many of the right crowds as possible.

So, what I’d like to share with you starting today is a series of ten of the Top Ten Mistakes in Advertising that I’ve seen through these three decades of being a professional media planner and buyer, and share some secrets and some tips on how to avoid getting into those very same advertising challenges.

This is my print version of the videos and audio of the same series.

Mistake Number One in our series follows:

The single biggest mistake I see repeated over and over again is the failure to test and measure your ads. All too often too many advertisers simply write a cheque for the ads in the newspaper, online, TV, radio, regardless of the media and simply hope for the best.

As many of you will attest, hope marketing really doesn’t pay an awful lot of bills. You wouldn’t put your own product, table lamps, lawnmowers, keyboards, post hole diggers, floor tiles, into the marketplace without putting them through an extensive battery of tests to see if they can live up to your standards.

You’re testing the ad that sells the product and, unfortunately, maybe you’ve encountered this yourself, or you know friends of a friend of a friend who had this happen to them.

They put all of their marketing muscle into one media without finding out how effective it could be on a smaller scale, and all they heard was crickets. That’s a devastating sound when you’re in advertising, so here’s what I want you to do.

Here is how you fix this: You identify each and every ad you place in any and all media.

What? Dennis, identify everything? Absolutely!

You see, what you want to do is learn how well every single piece of creative is performing in each magazine, website, leaderboard, big box, outdoor ad, in every radio commercial. You should have an identifier, a tag of any description that’s exclusive to that ad. Then you can go back and say we invested X number of dollars in this media and it brought us two returns, five returns, a thousand returns, whatever. The performance helps you to know exactly how well that ad worked.

What it also does is it helps you on the future campaigns by showing definitively what has been your best performer. It challenges you to come up with even better ads, better media mixes, better dollar spending, because now you know what’s performing.

This is not new. Nor is it rocket science. But it takes time and energy

and patience which is, unfortunately, a little bit lacking in too many arenas.

When you’re preparing your ads make sure that all of that creative excellence that’s been developed has a chance to be evaluated and measured. You want results so you can go back and track it. You can see how engaged your audiences are, how many times did they purchase the product, how many times did they go to the website, how many times that they raised their hand to say,

More. Hey I’m over here. I really like what you’re selling.

Show me more, tell me more. Give me some more information.

That’s what you want to deliver. So code your ad with the coupon exclusive to that campaign or magazine. Create a different URL or even a 1-800 number that can be tracked and monitored for every single ad.

You want to see how each ad is doing. Then, only then can you tell if it’s working and giving you a return on the investment.

If it sounds like an awful lot of work, well you’re right. Yes. You’re right, it is. But you are setting a template that will help you refine every ad moving forward. And if you get it right, right out of the gate, then kudos to you and Congratulations.

But in the majority there’s going to be some refinement, some improvements, some opportunity to tweak subsequent ads that says, we know we’ve got to improve this line or this copy.

There is a famous advertising gentleman by the name of John Caples who was an aggressive and prolific advertising tester, way before the Internet came onboard. He did one thing to make the ad better. He discovered that through all of his testing, one ad, by changing the headline performed 19 and 1/2 times better than every other ad that he had produced.

Same product, same newspaper, same service, same price point, all he did was change the headline and by changing it multiple times he found one that struck gold. You want a good return? Two times, three times better? Try nineteen and a half times better! That’s the difference that testing delivers.

Please remember when you’re testing there is no failure, there’s only results.

So here’s the strategy you might like, to give yourself a better return on investment. One enterprising client in my history treated it this way.

Because he came from a financial background each ad to him was considered a different mutual fund in his portfolio and he named them before they went into the media. Because they were coded in names he liked, he was able to remember them and he was able to soon see how well each of his investments, as he put it, was performing.

He put more money against the ads which were delivering, and changed any ads which were underperforming to a new one, to keep testing. To make sure of any money coming in he watched very carefully all of the money that was going out.

My message to you to avoid Mistake Number One is to Track Every Single Ad you prepare. It’s the only way to accurately measure what’s working.

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