Friday, February 27, 2009

Tracking responses - a cautionary tale

If you're involved in advertising or marketing in any form, you'll already know how important it is to track responses and measure results in order to refine your programme and maximise the return on your investment. This week, while speaking to clients about Fun Under Five, I was reminded of a lesson I learnt in my first job, and it is an important one.

If you ask your new clients where they heard about you, what kind of answers do you get? I would bet that the most frequent response is "word of mouth" - am I right? You might have a press campaign, you might be running a complex direct mail campaign, but time and again, WOM comes out tops, eh?

For offline media, it is the frustrating truth that a large proportion of people cannot remember where they got your number - or can't be bothered to try. For a publisher, this answer kills repeat business, as it is used to explain that the advertisement didn't generate any business, that the cost can't be justified, etc etc.

Well, next time you hear "Word of Mouth", think of this story:

My first job was at Candis magazine. Now this was before everything and everyone was online, and the only way to get the magazine was from a rep on your doorstep. We had about 1 million subscribers, which is fantastic for a mag without newsstand presence.

When we did some research, where do you think most people said they bought their magazine from? Yup, the newsagents.

Impossible, they just weren't sold there. However, the human brain reverts to the norm as often as possible, and you usually buy magazines in a newsagents, so it seems a reasonable answer.

A significant number of respondents also said they'd seen us advertised on TV. They hadn't.

So by all means, track your responses and refine where you spend your money. But have a healthy scepticism for what people tell you - and maybe throw in a rogue answer option to test out the theory! Let me know what happens.

No comments:

Post a Comment