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Step-By-Step Strategy For Creating And Testing A Successful Advertising Campaign
| Lately, I've received many questions as to how to test an advertising campaign.
Since the Complete Chiropractic Marketing Program as well as previous articles that I've written already cover the foundation pretty well, I've decided to make this article into a step-by-step outline of what to do in planning and executing a media campaign.
For this example, the advertising campaign I'll be testing is a magazine / newspaper campaign. But the same could also apply to a radio, television, direct mail, etc. campaign.
Anyway, the first thing that I would recommend is to compile a database of all the magazines / newspapers that serve your area. This includes the major local newspapers, local tabloid papers, college newspapers (if there's a college in your area), and any other publication that serves your community.
I recommend you compile the database on a computer, that way you have easier access to it later on. It also makes it very easy to do a mail-merge and mail the advertisements (not to mention any press releases, etc. that you might decide to do in the future) to these publications.
But if for some reason you can't use a computer for this purpose, then at the very least keep the info in a journal, with every publication given a separate page (this way you can enter info about the publication and the advertisement you ran in it at a later time).
Once you've compiled the list, the next step would be for you to find out the rates for advertising. Call up the publication, find out the price for a small advertisement (2 column inches is usually a good size to use for testing).
Of course the sales rep will try to sell you on an extended contract. Don't buy it, no matter what discounts you're offered! If you get a discount on a singe run - great. If you can't, that's okay. But you should never sign up for multiple runs at this point. The couple of bucks you save now could cost you a heck of a lot more down the line if the advertisement bombs.
Now, you need to look at the cost of each publication to run your ad in. Depending on your budget, you may be able to run a small ad in all the publications, or you might have to segment your test - test some publications now, and test the rest once you have more money (though I would recommend you eventually test all the publications - you might be surprised at which publications produce the best return on your investment).
As you can see, so far I've placed the greatest emphasis on which publications to advertise in, instead of which advertisements to run. There's a reason for that - where you advertise is more important than what you advertise. The reason is that the right audience is a bigger factor in your response than the advertisement itself. And the same applies to other channels. For example, in radio and television, the stations are more important that the commercial. In direct mail, the mailing list is more important than the direct mail letter.
Okay, back to work. You've decided which publications you're going to test. Now you need to run an advertisement in these publications. The key here is to run the same exact advertisement in every single publication. This is because you can only test one variable at a time, in this case the publications. Testing more than variable simultaneously will give inaccurate and useless data, as you won't be able to tell which variable caused the difference in response.
So now you place the same ad in all the publications. Inside the journal or the database you note how much each ad cost to run, and the number of new paying patients acquired. I find it most useful to keep this information in the page or database record associated with each publication, respectively.
After completing this first test, you go through the journal or database and determine the cost to acquire each patient through each publication (cost to run ad / number of new patients). The publications that produced the lowest cost to acquire each new patient, you roll with. The publications that cost the most to acquire each new patient, you drop.
Now that you've determined which publications you're going to use, the next step is to determine which ads are the most effective.
You do this by running a new advertisement in some of the publications which passed the first test. Once the ad is run, you compare the results to that of the initial ad. If the ad produces a better return on investment, you keep it. If it doesn't, you trash it.
You then repeat this step for as many ads as you want to test. You should test at least 2-3 ads though to determine which one(s) give you the most bang for your buck. Also, don't assume just because I said that where you advertise is more important than what you advertise, that you don't have to test advertisements. I've seen good advertisement out-pull bad advertisements by more than a factor of 10:1. So don't get lazy at this point, make sure you test advertisements as well as publications.
What if you don't have enough ads to test, and if you don't have the skill to create your own ads (creating effective advertising is a skill that comes from years of trials-and-errors)? Buy ads that an expert already created. There are several of them on the market. One VERY effective advertisements collection is within our Complete Chiropractic Marketing Program.
Once you've determined which publications to advertise in, and which advertisement(s) to run, you roll-out. This is the step where you negotiate a lower price with the publications in exchange for an extended contract. At this point you will have already put in all the real work, and now it's time for you to reap the rewards of your labor.
All right, I know that all this looks like lots of work - and it is. And even though I'm aware of how tempting it is to just place one ad in a few publications, and leave it at that, I urge you not to do that. The extra effort that you put in to building this advertising foundation will be more than worth its weight in gold in future profits.
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