Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Thoughts on Measuring Advertising Success

Advertising works. It helps position your product. It helps build your brand. It helps consumers make informed decisions about product choices. Advertising is an investment. How are you going to measure the results? How are you going to justify the expense?

Here are some thoughts you might consider as you plan your marketing communications program:

The relationship between advertising and sales: Some suggest that brand leadership is a result of brilliant advertising. They say that advertising leads to sales. It may be true. In most cases, however, the scientific cause/effect proof is lacking. There is very little data showing how advertising works. Really.

Cash Register as Measure: Sales results alone are not proof that you are making the right decisions about advertising. Don't risk trading-off longer term goals (e.g. deep discounting might get you unit sales and market share but your brand equity will erode with the price-value perceptions longer term).

The Marketing Mix: Advertising is highly visible. It gets a lot of attention. The best advertising in the world will not overcome a poor distribution strategy or an unrealistic pricing scenario. Remember, Marketing 101: Product, Promotion, Price and Place? Set objectives after you've analyzed the environment, the competition and the relative strength of your brand. Don't let advertising take the hit for shortcomings elsewhere in the marketing equation.

Long Term vs. Short Term Goals: Brands evolve over time. Consumer trust is cumulative over time too. Brand equity is built over time. It can take years. It's okay to be a little impatient but always remember you are building something that potentially give you an edge in the marketplace.

Research Methodology: Tracking Studies monitor perceptions over time. They provide a benchmark as well as a roadmap for future communications. Take the time to design the study so you compare results against your communications goals. Focus Groups are a great way to get insight, too. They force you to make sure your message is engaging and credible. They often raise issues worthy of further study. Be careful though. Don't allow focus group panelists to become creative directors. If you let them art direct and write your advertising, you are allowing amateurs do the work you pay professionals to do.

Value of Perfect Information: Often the information you really want is either unavailable or too expensive. Ask yourself: What information will help me get better advertising? The cost/return tradeoff on original research may not payout. Consider secondary data sources.

Most of all - Be creative.

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