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Which Half of Your Advertising Budget is Wasted?

Five practical tips to develop an effective measurement strategy for online and offline marketing efforts.

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John Wannamaker may not be a household name but he opened the first department store in Philadelphia in the late 1800’s and is believed to be the inventor of the price tag and the seasonal sale.

Wannamaker was the first retailer to place a half-page newspaper ad, and the first full-page ad five years later. He is widely considered to be one of the forefathers of advertising and credited with the famous phrase: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.”

His words survive as one of the most frequently quoted clichés in marketing and advertising, even after radio, TV and now the Internet, have replaced the dominance of print advertising.

But with all we’ve accomplished in the last one hundred and twenty years, is this quote still relevant and significant to you (and to all marketers) today?

In fact, how do you know you’re not throwing away 2/3 of your advertising budget? Or perhaps even as much as 3/4?

How can you be sure that your next advertising campaign, sitting on your desk awaiting your approval, won’t be an abysmal failure – sucking your business bank account dry and producing no measurable influx of qualified leads and sales?

Do you know with certainty which half of your advertising budget is wasted?

The Advertising Landscape Has Evolved

Right now, your customers are getting harder to reach in most traditional media channels, and the rules of marketing have changed. Print readership, radio listeners and even TV viewers are down. Consumers have adapted to new technologies – the Internet, mobile, GPS, tablet computing – and can now comfortably avoid unwanted advertising in many of the older advertising channels.

The Internet has paved the way for content marketing, online video and social media to emerge as the new, dominant players. And to succeed in this new realm of advertising, requires a shift in both mindset and strategy.

You used to be able to get away with talking at your prospects (having one-way conversations), now you must respond to their comments (both positive and negative) in real-time. Where five years ago you could simply focus on spending less to find more local prospects, now you must excel at “being found” in a sea of global competitors.

Thankfully, these new mediums bring with them two significant benefits – targeting and measurability. Finally, improving your odds of determining which half of your advertising budget is wasted, is not only possible, but refreshingly possible. You simply have to know which marketing tips and tools to use to maximize your return on investment (ROI).

Here are five practical tips for developing an effective measurement strategy for your online and offline marketing efforts:

1. Monitor all incoming leads.

Place a unique phone number, or email address or offer in different media placements to gauge which ad creative, copy, design elements or ad placement garners the most qualified traffic and sales.

Each unique number or email address can easily be re-routed to your primary incoming line or email, to streamline the process of receiving and replying to valuable inquiries. To minimize confusion with your target audience refrain from using too many different variables (numbers, email addresses, offers) at once.

If your business is highly identifiable and uses a memorable phone number, this tracking method may not be viable. As an alternative, record inbound calls for quality assurance and use the insights to train your sales team. While it may cost more, recorded conversations will provide significant insight into the interest level, FAQ’s, objections and issues of your prospects.

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