If you pay hundreds, or even thousands of dollars for a piece of equipment, you want to know it works and whether it represents good value for the money.

For example, if you purchase a wood splitter. You want to know that it will produce X amount of firewood in X amount of time with X amount of effort. That’s how you measure the success and value of your purchase.

So why do so many organizations and businesses simply wing it when it comes to traditional advertising in newspapers and radio?

In small to medium markets, especially, organizations rarely measure the value of using traditional media. They spend thousands of dollars annually and can’t say whether the money has been spent wisely or produced any ROI.

This happens because they are not measuring traditional media advertising for its value and success. Worse, they set no goals for advertising in the first place.

It’s easy for organizations to overlook the need to measure. Their eyes gloss over and think “wow!” when a sales rep tells them that their ad will reach X number of subscribers or X number of listeners.  “Could you make 275,000 sales calls in a month?” the pitch goes. “Your ad in the business directory will!” If this is you, you’re been duped by the sales pitch based on the word reach. Reach means diddly. Reach is mysterious. In reality, ‘reach’ is a maybe. ‘Maybe’ your add will be seen or heard by X number of people.

No traditional media sales rep can tell you how many eyes will see your ad or how many ear will listen to it. So, too often, you fall for the crapshoot advertising route.

How often do you buy anything hoping that maybe it will work? Perhaps sometimes. But certainly not something costing $100, $250, $400 or more like an ad in traditional media.

Just placing an ad, and including your phone number, address and information about services, products or events is not enough. Your phone number can be obtained any number of ways for free: business cards, Internet, Yellow Pages, online directories.

In today’s hyper-technology era of social media and the Internet where so much IS measurable (ie. YouTube views, reTweets on Twitter, etc), it is critical that you’re also measuring your use of traditional media.

Example

You must set goals
Before you even place an ad in a newspaper or on the radio, establish your goals. What do you want the advertising to achieve? Perhaps you want to see the advertising generate X number of sales? Or X number of visits to your website? Or X number of event registrations. (FYI: Setting your goal to be to ‘get the word out’ is not a goal.)

One of the easiest ways to measure your traditional media advertising is by using coupons or promotional codes.

Here’s a basic approach

Let’s say you want to advertise a special two-can-dine restaurant offer in a newspaper and on a radio station. You could do things to measure which medium works best.

First, place an ad in a newspaper and include a clippable coupon. This will be easy to measure. The number of coupons redeemed by customers will give you instant measurable stats on the value of advertising this offer in the newspaper.

Second, place an ad on a radio station. Use the radio spot to plug your restaurant website (if you don’t have a basic website, you’d better get one!) where a coupon is available. Create a separate page where a coupon can be printed. By using a free service such as Google Analytics, you’ll easily be able to measure the web traffic to the specific page with the coupon. What’s more, you’ll also be able to correlate web traffic to the number of coupons redeemed. If there’s a significant difference, you may also be seeing the benefits of viral marketing (consumers spreading coupons for you, or word of mouth).

Remember, don’t be sold on advertising in traditional media because of ‘reach’. Be sold on advertising in traditional media because you are measuring its value, success and ROI.

If it’s not working, it’s likely time for some different or creative marketing strategies.