It is not uncommon for businesses to pay several hundred dollars a month for a prominent listing in a telephone directory to make their phone ring with the prospect of new customers. It is equally common for those hundreds of dollars a month to fail in the mission. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to tell if, and how much those directory dollars are having an effect. It is better to know that your marketing dollars are being wasted than to be uncertain.

In the case of phone directories, businesses can apply for special numbers that only appear in that edition of the directory. This number can be tracked, providing accurate information on how effective the placement really is. The downside is that even with that information in hand, there is little that can be done to change course until the next printing of the directory.

Today, marketing is a lot more complicated than the right kind of copy and placement in a telephone directory. The world has moved on. And many businesses are having a hard time keeping up. They know they have to invest in advertising but they have no good way of keeping track of those advertising dollars. Here are a few of the ways you can track the success of your advertising budget:

Let Professionals Do It for You

No matter what anyone says, search engine optimization (SEO) is largely a black hole. There is not a certain method of reaching the top of a Google search result. There are definitely SEO BEST practices but they fall far short of guarantees.

It takes an expert eye to properly evaluate and track your SEO effectiveness. Groups like Authority Labs make it their business to evaluate your business as it relates to SEO effectiveness. Implementing a software solution is far more efficient than attempting to do it manually. Online marketing efforts are a lot more difficult to track than special phone numbers in a directory. As you move the bulk of your marketing efforts online, you need to have a solution in place for tracking those efforts. Expert software solutions are one of the better options available.

Make Quality Ads

Podcasting is the new frontier of spoken-word audio content. The closest offline medium is radio. No one wants to hear a radio ad. Podcast ads seem to get a much better reception. There are many reasons for this. One of the biggest reasons is that podcasts can offer a much more targeted ad for the end user. Unfortunately, the radio cannot to do this as directly as podcasts.

No one wants to be talked down to, which is what radio ads excel at. Here is a funny look at everything you never want to hear in a radio ad. The sad truth is that this is exactly what one is most likely to hear the moment they turn on their favorite station.

Bad advertising is not limited to the radio. Print media can be even worse. You will almost guarantee that your audience will block you out if your ads:

  • Insult people’s intelligence
  • Annoy people
  • Come across as insincere
  • Detract too much from the experience of consuming the media

Bottom line, bad ads are cheap for a reason. Quantity does not make up for quality. Bad ads don’t sell products and services.

Find a Profitable Niche

The most profitable advertising you can ever do is to target people who genuinely want to spend money on the products and service you have to offer, but don’t know about them yet. Those people are out there. As always, the trick is finding them.

If you sell rare auto parts for German cars made in the 1970s, you will find all the customers you can handle by advertising on websites and podcasts devoted to the hobbyist restoration of vintage, German cars. You may not find what you need on general auto enthusiast sites. It is all about finding the highly energized niche for your particular products.

It is not always about widening your reach. Sometimes, it is about narrowing your focus. You know that your marketing dollars are well spent when the results are professionally audited, you make quality ads that people actually like, and you target the niche of people who are genuinely excited about what you have to offer.