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When does advertising become MADvertising?

When considering any marketing campaign, it is best to put your money somewhere where it will work harder for you… and that isn’t necessarily advertising.

Last week, I found myself on the train on the way to a business meeting in town. I couldn’t help but notice, the closer we edged to the CBD, the greater the number of billboard advertisements on the platforms.

With train stations like Sydney’s Central ferrying some of the country’s largest number of people each day, it makes sense train stations have long been considered an advertiser’s mecca. But it seems to me some stations have reached saturation point.

It’s not just an Australian problem either. Advertisers in Japan have been forced to think up new ways to get their advertising message across in Tokyo train stations.

With no space for more billboards, advertisers have taken to covering the ground with stickers, building product sculptures, filling every free space on ticket gates, and covering the escalator handrail with hundreds of QR-coded ads.  And that’s just on the platform! Advertisements also cover the outside of trains, the inside of trains and there are even advertising “movies” playing in tunnels.

It got me thinking…. is there a point when there are simply too many ads? When does advertising become plain old MADvertising???

The purpose of advertising
Like any marketing campaign, the main purpose of advertising is to convey your business’s message so the customer will buy your product or accept your idea. A good advertisement will give people all the information they need to decide whether to buy or not. It separates you from the crowd.

However, if you are competing against hundreds of other ads (especially your competitors), it might be time to consider spending your marketing dollar elsewhere – somewhere where your customers can read your message without the noise of competition.

I’m not against advertising. Many businesses, including several of my own clients, have had tremendous success with advertising. I just believe it must be tailored to work with your overall marketing plan and budget. You should not do it just because everyone else is doing it.

If you do decide to advertise, you will need to consider the following:

Ensure it fits your budget
Advertising remains one of the most expensive promotional methods available. That is because it “hits” a larger number of people.

But the costs don’t end with simply buying advertising space.

Firstly, apart from the cost of designing an ad, you must also budget for testing the ad. Sometimes you will need to test more than one ad and the only way to test whether an ad works is by physically running it. That means you pay for each experiment until you get it right – and that is before you’ve even launched a full-blown campaign.

Secondly, most marketing campaigns require more than 1 touch before a customer is ready to buy. Some say, for an ad to be successful it needs three to five touches, others say seven. Someone once told me it was 20. Whichever way you look at it, running a once-off ad is not going to work. You must budget for more than this.

Measure its effectiveness
Knowing how to track and measure an advertising campaign will help you determine if it is working for your business.

As a minimum, your ad should contain a call to action. That is the only way you can effectively measure the campaign. Other ways include:

  • Website Statistics: Actively monitor the number of website visitors you receive each day and where they come from. You should also be aware of the keywords people use to find you. If your advertising call to action included a website address, use these statistics to identify a possible spike in website traffic at the time the ad was run.
  • Ask people: If you notice an increase in phone calls or emails following an advertising campaign, ask the callers how they found out about you. It is an easy way to determine whether it was due to your new advertisement.
  • Use different phone numbers and email addresses: Track an ad’s effectiveness by setting up a new email address or phone number specifically for that particular campaign.
  • Online redemption: Consider using your ad to drive customers to your website where they can redeem something online. It can be a whitepaper, a discount or a money back program. Not only will this help measure your campaign, it will also help build your database.

Spending money on an ineffective advertising campaign is madness. Cost effective marketing isn’t.

If advertising does not suit your business, simply consider other ways you can promote it. Hand out samples in the street, start an online newsletter or email special offers to your database.

After all, the question you have to answer isn’t “How much should I spend?” but rather, “How do I spend what I have most effectively?”