A while ago I chatted to a business about their awesome marketing plan. In addition to appearing in the magazines, they also featured at local festivals, had fostered partnerships with other businesses to cross promote each other and developed a strong social media presence. Yet, within this well-orchestrated media existence, there were a couple of things that puzzled them. Firstly, they didn’t always know what form of marketing had generated business; secondly, they were baffled that the discount codes on their adverts had rarely been used.

There’s an old saying in advertising: “Half the money I spend is wasted. I just don’t know which half.” Nobody likes spending money without appearing to gain any return however, a lack of immediate response is not always an indication that your marketing isn’t working.  

A consumer who sees your advert today may not need nor want your service or product until next month and therefore won’t respond immediately. If however your advert only appears once or twice, then you run the risk that the consumer may not remember your name when they do need you and will end up choosing a competitor instead.

If you REALLY want to know what’s working then you need to employ the “Where do you hear about us?” question for every single call, visit or sale.

However, I know from my own experience that this method can be very hit and miss because the aim of any business is to make money i.e. sales; therefore pondering about the provenance of the enquiry tends to take a back seat and doesn’t feature in your head until you put the phone down. But even if you do ask the question, the situation can become further complicated, if for example, you appear across several media platforms simultaneously. Where this happens, it’s most likely that customers have seen you marketing in different guises, but when put on the spot with the “where did you hear about us” question, would probably only recall the last bit of marketing they saw.

But what about the discount codes I hear you ask – why didn’t anyone use them? Advertising specialists have said for aeons that consumers must see a business name or logo a dozen times or more before they remember and act on it. There is no doubt that advertising is a cumulative process and response will build over time with multiple exposures to an audience. In the case of the discount code, just because it wasn’t used doesn’t mean the adverts didn’t play a part in getting the end result. The consumer may have thought “I’ll use that when I call them” but the sale may ultimately have been triggered by a different piece of marketing.

So, what is a business to do with so many options available to market but without the promotional budget of McDonalds to support it? The chances are that if you know where your audience hangs out then you’ll know which marketing mediums will work best in promoting your product or service. The trick thereafter is to NOT spread yourself too thinly; concentrate on steering your message across two or three media platforms consistently and let consumers join the marketing dots together for you.