Types of Advertising:
How To Test Your Advertising

by Tom Egelhoff

My first rule of advertising is, "Advertising must be an investment not an expense." In simple terms your advertising has to not only pay for itself but make a profit for your business just like a good stock or mutual fund.

In order for that to happen you must know how to evaluate your advertising.

Is it really producing customers? Are they buying?

Is the advertising paying for itself and making a profit? In this article I will explore the ways to test advertising so you can answer these questions.

Get It Right the First Time?

If you are new in business you probably haven't placed a lot of ads yet. Let me save you a little frustration.

Rarely do even experienced ad agencies get it right the very first time out. Not to say it doesn't happen but it's extremely rare. So don't be discouraged if your early efforts don't bare immediate fruit.

Advertising takes time. Remember, you are developing a relationship with the customer. Friendships and relationships take time to develop... be patient.

If you think this sounds discouraging just keep in mind that testing and being able to evaluate your advertising will make it effective in a much shorter time.

It's much more economical and efficient than just placing ads without a plan and hoping something happens.

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How To Create A Plan To Evaluate Your Advertising

The success or failure of any plan, advertising or any other, comes down to a strict definition of what you want the plan to accomplish.

Yes, I know we want more business but it must be more specific than that.

For example: Do you just want to generate more traffic in your business? Do you want to increase the dollar amount of each sale?

Do you want to attract a better quality customer? Do you want to reduce the cost of bringing a customer to your business?

Your first response might be all of the above. If so, put them in order of importance and let's begin there.

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How Do I Start The Plan

Well, if you are familiar with medical testing you may have heard the term, "control group." A control group is a known entity.

It's the best we've been able to do so far. Even if your advertising isn't working, this will still be your control group. (See: Here's Why Your Advertising Isn't Working.)

So, we have an ad that's working or not working. Start with that and test against it. If it's a newspaper ad you might try testing the identical ad on radio and evaluate any change.

If the radio ad is more successful, then that becomes your new control group.

Caution: Keep in mind that a one time good response may be just a fluke. Look for consistent improvement before you make the new group the control group.

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How To Format Your Test

There used to be a company in San Diego, California called King Schools. Not sure if they are still in existence. They advertised a video package to help pilots get their licenses and instrument ratings.

They ran two test of an ad in magazines in two parts of the country. One test priced the packages at $199.95 and the other at $249.95. Which one do you think would pull the most customers.

The lower price right? Wrong. The higher priced course pulled more customers than the lower price.

Why? Because people felt that to offer so much for so little there must be a "catch." The customers felt there was something wrong to offer it for such a low price.

People are happy to pay the price if they can see the value. (See: Pricing Methods And How To Use Them)

Don't feel compelled to only test price. Remember, people are not shopping exclusively for price they are really looking for benefits that will make their life better is some way. See: "Why Customers Buy."

As you can see, knowing your customers can play a large part in the success or failure of your advertising.

The better you know them the easier it is to find the message that works and the fewer tests you'll have to do.

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Can I Test Too Much?

You can test too much and that's what you'll want to avoid. The purpose of testing is to do as few as possible and lean from the results to make the testing pay off in the long run with profitable advertising.

Here are some testing guidelines to keep in mind when you design your test packages.

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