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Improving the effectiveness of your advertising print Print

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Many businesses have limited marketing budgets and therefore need to get a good return on their advertising investment. This guide explains why monitoring your advertising is so important and offers some simple and practical tips to improve the effectiveness of your advertising.

Choose advertising you can monitor

If you have a big marketing budget like larger companies, you can afford to invest in building medium and long-term brand recognition in the marketplace. This kind of advertising is intended to put your business image in front of consumers and does not aim at immediate results - there is no call to action. As a result it's impossible to measure the exact returns from such brand building. A familiar saying goes, 'I know that half my advertising is wasted - I just don't know which half.' However, most small business can't afford to advertise for brand awareness: they need a return on their investment.

If you have a limited marketing budget you therefore need to give preference to advertising methods you can measure.


The importance of monitoring

What you don't measure you can't manage. To get the most out of your advertising dollar you need to monitor the results so that you can:

  • Work out if the advert is generating sufficient sales to give you a satisfactory return on your investment (ROI).
  • Check if the advert is reaching its intended target market. (For example, if you're selling to a 15 - 25 year old target market through radio ads, have you chosen the right radio channel?).
  • Check timing and seasonality. For example, if you place adverts in newspapers, you might want to measure timing (the results from a mid-week advert as opposed to a Saturday advert) or seasonality (adverts placed at different seasons: for instance early Spring might be the best time for camping or outdoor products advertising).


How do you measure?

The main methods of measuring your advertising include:

  • Coding the advert, such as a clip-out Order Form at the bottom of a newspaper or magazine advert, or as part of a direct mail package.
  • Including a coded discount coupon that can be redeemed against a product or service purchase.
  • Making a special offer. If the offer (such as a reduced price or a bundled extra) only appears in one source (such as a radio ad) the results automatically identify the advertising source.

These three popular methods allow you to identify the sources accurately. In addition, you can survey results through your daily business processes, for example:

  • Ask customers at the point of sale how they heard about your business.
  • Asking the same question when people phone the business.
  • Asking customers to fill in a questionnaire (perhaps with free entry to a competition as the incentive).
  • Doing a sample telemarketing survey.

Record the results and use them!

The important point about all these tactics is to do them consistently. Record the results and remember there's no point in tracking this data if you're not going to use it.

Refine and improve

Use the results to refine and improve your advertising. For instance, you can place an advert in two city newspapers using different headlines and advert layouts to see which ad generates the best results. Similarly, you can test batches of direct marketing packages using different versions of a covering letters and/or fliers. Once you've found a formula that works, you can keep on repeating it.

Choose low-budget methods first

Try comparatively low-budget methods first before you attempt more expensive methods like TV or radio advertising that work through repetition and require a substantial budget. For instance:

  • Some businesses do very well through direct marketing, employing a copywriter to write compelling text for the covering letter and fliers, and a graphic artist to produce professional looking documents.
  • Other businesses pull in good sales from well-written classified ads.
  • Some business people are very good at generating free media attention and publicity for their businesses.

Set clear targets and objectives

Success in advertising starts with clear targets and objectives. Your first task is to define your target market(s) as accurately as possible; your second is to set clear objectives for the advertising. For example, is your objective to build awareness or generate sales? Get more help from the ANZ Biz Hub article The importance of market research.

Do a break-even analysis in advance

It's a sound idea to do a break-even analysis for your advertising so that you can work out how many goods you have to sell or how many billable hours you need to gain to make the advertising worthwhile. This exercise can sometimes make you aware that the promotion needs to be re-considered.


The most common advertising mistakes

Eliminate these mistakes from your advertising and you're well on the way to getting better value for your marketing dollar:

No call to action

Many good adverts fail because there's no call to action. The reader, viewer or listener may be persuaded, but they are not told what to do next. Effective adverts include some key drivers that encourage the customer to take action NOW through decision drivers such as deadlines, discounts, special offers, bundled goods, free entry to competitions, limited stock, introductory offer, etc.

No compelling headline

The start of the advert is the most important. A good advert or direct marketing letter must capture your attention through a compelling headline. At least 70% of your time should be spent on this.

No 'inherent drama' or USP

While the headline pulls readers in, the text must entice them to read on. It won't do this if it focuses on features not benefits. Quite simply, people are not interested in how many bells and whistles your product or service has. They're interest in how your product or service could transform their lives: what advertising experts call the 'inherent drama' of the product or service. The more effectively this competitive edge or Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is portrayed, the better the results are likely to be.

Amateurish layouts

It's important to recognise our strengths and limitations. Advertising is a specialised activity and you need to understand the nature of each medium (such as direct marketing, print ads, radio, TV, the Internet) and what will work for your products and services. In addition, few of us can write compelling text for an advert.

Relying on 'desktop publishing' programs to produce your own adverts rarely produces credible or professional results. Get help from a copywriter or advertising consultant.

Inappropriate medium

Advertising starts with market research and targeting your market(s). Choose the right medium for your products and services don't be seduced along the way by 'special offers'.

'Great deals' from sales reps

A confectionery manufacturer reports frequent pressure by sales reps offering 'great deals' on advertising. "I tell them that I offer customers a money-back guarantee of satisfaction on my products - can they offer the same on their advertising? Most of them disappear at this stage. It's important not to be sidetracked by these offers. The fact is, I develop my promotions in advance and then stick to the plan."

Hard to buy

Many adverts neglect the mechanics of buying. Here are the key points:

  • Make it as easy as possible for the reader to buy through a coupon, order form, online shopping or email response.
  • Include many choices for the buyer to contact you (address, freephone, freefax, email and website).
  • Customer must be able to get through to you quickly. For example, there's no point investing good money in a Yellow directory ad if a customer can't get through to your business IMMEDIATELY or only gets an answerphone.
  • You're also wasting your money if your staff don't have good telephone skills and the ability to keep on improving their conversion rate of enquiries into sales (remember to monitor this conversion rate!).
  • Make websites easy to navigate or you'll lose buyers. If you quote your website in adverts (and you should!) provide a special (and simple to type) URL direct to the offer page, so the customer doesn't have to wade through the whole website.

Wrong timing or placing

Disappointing results can often be traced to wrong timing or placing. That expensive newspaper advert for a sports equipment sale could be largely wasted if it's buried in the business section, not the sports pages. Your radio ads may be ineffective because they go out at the wrong time. Remember when dealing with media reps that you must specify where you want the advert to go, or what time you want the ads to appear or be broadcast.

Be aware too that sales reps will always give preference to their favoured customers: the ones that have long-term contracts or spend lots of money. You might have to negotiate hard or pay a premium to secure the right time and place for your adverts.


Further information:

To talk to an ANZ Business Banking Manager:
Call 0800 269 249
Visit your nearest ANZ branch


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