I live in a relatively small town, cottage country sort of area and I know pretty much all of the print publications that are around. One day someone calls me to tell me about this amazing opportunity to advertise in a magazine that goes out to all of the country clubs in the area. He’s telling me that it is the best way to get in front of wealthy clientele (which is not really my target) but he went on and on about other businesses that were eager to advertise with him. He also insisted that I commit today.
I asked him to send me more information. I wanted to see more demographics, distribution numbers etc. It was kind of a nice way of saying I’m not interested but if it really is a good opportunity I may bring it to the attention of some of my clients.
So red flag number 1, I had never heard of this magazine. To me it sounds like a pretty good scam to assume that I don’t frequent country clubs and therefore I would just forgive the fact that I’ve never seen it before. But red flag #2 was the urgency. I managed to get off the call with “I’ll think about it” and he called me the very next day. At this point I told him flat out, no, I’m not interested. That’s when I discovered how full of it this guy actually was. He pretended to act surprised, almost hurt claiming “wow, no one has ever said no before, I’m seriously surprised”. Really? You’re cold calling and you’ve never heard no before? Shut the front door...
My point is that there are lots of great and legitimate advertising opportunities out there. However, this call pointed out how easy it can be to waste your money because we all want it to be easy. We want to pay money so that we can get more business and that’s it. I wouldn’t doubt that this salesperson has made sales because that’s exactly what he was selling and he was doing a pretty good job right up until he turned into Dwight Schrute.
So here are 3 simple things that you can do to ensure that your advertising dollars are not wasted:
- Always ask for demographics - The onus is on the advertiser to show and prove that their audience is right for you. If they can’t or don’t provide enough information then it might not be worth it.
- Track your success - Digital advertising can be easier than traditional media but you want to actually review those results. Back in my direct response advertising days we had complex tracking involving unique phone numbers for each channel and publication and we would review our responses weekly and cut anything that was not working and invest more into what was working. Now I don’t expect you to be as thorough as that but you can easily create different email addresses, or simply ask new clients how they heard of you. It’s not perfect but it can give you some sense of what is performing and what is not.
- It might be your ad - It’s not always the channel that isn’t performing. Consider that your ad may need to change. It may be that it doesn’t stand out, the message isn’t right, or the call to action gets lost. There are a lot of reasons why an ad doesn’t work so switch it up.People don’t like seeing the same thing over and over again anyway so keep it fresh.
I know that might not make things as easy as you would prefer. I just hate to see people throwing their money away. If you can just take a little bit of extra time to plan things out, get informed and try new things, your advertising will do better and so will your business.