4 Ways to Improve the Way You Track Your Advertising and Better Understand Your Results

If you think “How did you hear about us?” is an adequate way to track your advertising – we’re here to tell you you are wrong.  Sorry to be so brash, but someone has to tell you. Before you get offended or leave this post, scroll down to be enlightened on the most effective ways to track your advertising and better understand your results.

First, understand that transactions are different from reach. 

When you buy an ad, you don’t buy a transaction, unless you buy a coupon or special offer style ad.  EVERYTHING ELSE IS REACH.   We get it,  when you spend money, you want a guarantee that you are going to get what you paid for…. especially when it comes to advertising, especially print advertising.  Unfortunately, that’s not how advertising works.

In order to be at peace with your marketing plans you have to stop tracking only transactions and start measuring value in REACH.

When you buy an ad, you buy the # of people you can reach within a demographic…. NOT the final customer. So when you are choosing advertising options…. choose base on reach and ask yourself what type of awareness can this media outlet bring for my business. Not how much money can I make from this ad?

But I still want to track my ad…. 

Ok.  Yes! You can track the performance of your print advertising!  And no, it’s not by verbally asking “How did you hear about us?” In fact, with the technology of today’s world, you should never have to utter those words again.

Here’s why the question “How did you hear about us?” Doesn’t work.  Human error.  Rushing.  Not caring.  It’s not the job of your potential customers to keep track of your marketing efforts, it’s yours. So don’t leave their response to the question “How did you hear about us?” open for interpretation. The response should be pretty simple. Comparing your marketing plan.. it was either.. your print ad, your online ad, a friend, or recent PR coverage, etc.  OR ALL OF IT.  But Betty, who just wants to know how much it costs to have a wedding at your venue, doesn’t care about your marketing, she just wants to get down to the reason why she called.

Don’t grill her, or waste her time trying to validate your marketing….

Instead do this…..


Your contact form or request for proposal form on your website is more valuable than you think.  Since your website is your new receptionist, it’s crucial that she/he is accepting all the necessary valuable information you’d normally have a human ask. Besides the obvious information you need from new inquiries, asking the question “how did you hear about us?” is likely the 2nd most important question to have on the form.

Doing these steps will immediately improve the marketing tracking answers you get from customers…

  • Make the question “How did you hear about us” required.  This should be obvious.
  • No open ended questions.  It’s not the job of your new client to track your marketing. Trigger their memory with a list of all the potential places they could have seen you.  “How did you hear about us” is an open ended question.
  • Use checkboxes for multiple answers.  Once you’ve listed all of the print, bridal shows, websites, social media, friend referrals and even editorial your business is in, use checkboxes instead of a dropdown list so that the client can click ALL THE WAYS they’ve seen you instead of only one.  If studies show it takes multiple impressions for a client to take the initiative to call your company, it’s likely they’ve seen your business in several places.  This will help you get more specific results.

If your contact form or RFP form does not look like this, you are leaving information on the table and not accurately tracking your ads.



Your website is your receptionist.  Period.  No longer do people see your ad, scan for your number and dial up right away.  They research you first.  And where?  Your Website!  So, having a bird’s eye view of how people have found your website (it’s not all links from other sites!) and what they look at on your site when they get there are crucial indicators of your offline and online marketing and how effective your site actually is at keeping their attention once they’ve arrived.

Web Analytics programs tracks three different ways visitors get to your website.  Only one of those actually tracks internet referrals from other websites.  Here are the other two best ways to keep track of your offline marketing with Web Analytics…

  • DIRECT TRAFFIC.  Direct traffic is a list of people who have gone to a search engine and specifically typed in your website address.  Meaning… they already knew it.  They didn’t search you or find you on another website, they saw your website address somewhere else (eh hem, perhaps your print ad) and typed it into the URL address box.
  • SEARCH.  Organic (meaning not-paid for) search traffic is two fold.  There are people who search for your business type and people who search for your business name.  Type is true organic search that you can thank the search engines and SEO for.  However, Business Name searches should be attributed to your offline marketing and general brand awareness campaigns. Whenever you see someone search your business name, ask yourself… “How did they know about me to google my business name?”


By assigning a unique local phone number to each advertising or marketing campaign, you will be able to track all of your phone calls back to the campaign that generated the call. This will allow you to discover exactly which advertising campaigns are generating sales and revenue for your business.

Here are three custom phone number companies I recommend…


I placed this at the bottom of the list because it’s truly an old school method, however still effective in some cases.  If you’re going to do a direct mailing piece or promotional hand out at a bridal show, tradeshow or ad, use a promotion to get people to pick up the phone or call instead of just a branding piece.  Then, give your promotions unique codes that your management can track when clients turn them in.  If you don’t have a computer system that keeps track for you, create a spreadsheet that your manager can enter the customers into when they bring in the coupon.  Remember, no one is going to bring in your ad/postcard for no reason, they need the incentive like $500 off or a free gift so don’t forget that part.  At the end of the promotion or year tally up the results to see which promotion worked best.

If you aren’t doing all of these things together, you simply cannot accurately say “I didn’t get anything from my ad.”

Is Print Advertising Still Relevant Now that We Have Social Media Marketing?

Q:  Is print still relevant now that we have social media marketing? 

A:  Yes. Yes. Yes!  Today we’re answering the ever present question “Is print still relevant now that we have social media marketing?” because this question is sent to our sales team nearly weekly these days.  And for good reason.  Non-marketers like business owners, sales teams, and regular folk just trying to do their job are legitimately confused, unsure of where to spend their marketing dollars and mostly where to invest their marketing TIME to garner the biggest return.  We get it.

I ask you this….  In the beginning we all advertised in the newspaper.  So, historically speaking, in 1901 did radio advertising kill newspaper advertising?  In 1927 did TV advertising kill radio advertising?  In 1990 did internet advertising kill TV and radio advertising?   The answer is simply no because one media does not replace another – they work together.

Advertising Plan Advice

Let’s just pause and thing about this… Take online internet companies like autotrader.com, wayfair.com, eharmony.com – these are the companies we see advertising OFFLINE with TV ads and magazine ads to get people to GO ONLINE and sign up for their services.  Amazing right?  I digress.

But, before we can say anything about social media, let’s talk about internet as a whole.

Just because the internet exists, doesn’t mean that everything else is extinct.  It just works different now.  In the past offline ads drove people to directly call your company. Now offline advertising drives internet search so that a consumer (who is more educated than before) can research you and due their own due diligence before they ever decide to call you.  They don’t want to be influenced or sold by you, they want to decide for themselves.  That research generates a transaction – a click, a like, an email, phone call or in person visit to either your business, website or social medias.

Truly, your social media channels could be considered to be your receptionist or publicist, just like your website is.  Your website and your social media are your greeters.

Now, you can actually put those greeters to work for you to generate sales too.  Social media advertising is a passive type of advertising.  It works very similar to magazine advertising in that instead of waiting for the consumer to search for you (like you have to do for search), you can put your company’s message in front of your ideal consumer by plopping an ad right in their view.  In print it’s an ad place in a magazine that a reader sees on the page, on social media it’s an ad that shows in up in their regular feed.  Print ads bring your business to your potential customer when they are offline.  Social media advertising (and online banners ads too) bring your business to your potential customer when they are online.

They work together to reach the customer wherever they are so don’t make assumptions about how your customer spends their time consuming content by choosing only one.  

Experts will argue that you can get a much more targeted ad in social media because you can narrow down the demographic by location, age, and interests but I will argue that you can also narrow down your target demographic in print by choosing the right publication that reaches the specific demographic you are trying to influence. Your choice is very important.  If you are an Atlanta wedding DJ and you place an ad in an Atlanta newspaper, it’s not going to deliver the same results as if you placed in ad in an Atlanta wedding magazine whose only reader is a bride actively planning their wedding in Atlanta.

But if you think you still get better targeting with social media advertising, I’ll also say this:  People are smart and they are wising up to what’s an ad in their social media feed and what’s not.  They are trained to scan by your ad faster than you thought possible. Case in point – do you ever find yourself actually clicking on an online banner ad? Rarely, (if ever!) right?  Even though web banner ads have an excellent tracking ability, the percent of people who actually click on them is less than .17%.  That doesn’t mean they don’t work – it means that they actually work more like offline ads do.  They subconsciously make an impression on the reader to be recalled at a later time or inspire search for further evaluation.

In the case of niche magazines, people are actually BUYING these products.  They are not being fed the ads involuntarily in the magazine, but rather they are choosing to spend their money on that specific topic – be it fishing, weddings, sewing, parenting – they want information on this topic whether its in editorial or ad form. Whereas on social media, they have zero control on what gets fed in their new stream.

The moral of the story = BALANCE.

Marketing is more complex than it ever has been. No longer do we work in a society where there are three ways you can promote your company.   In addition to traditional advertising like TV, radio, billboards, newspapers and magazines we now have niche magazines, niche blogs, our very own social media platforms, social media influencers, organic search, paid search, remarketing, Facebook advertising, email blasts, trade shows, and direct mail.

Determine a budget and distribute those funds evenly across the board to very specific medias that are reaching your target demographic.  Period.  An unbalanced advertising plan will garner you the same results as an unbalanced diet.  Poor health.

Let’s Recap the talking points…

  • One media does not replace another – they work together so you should use multiple media platforms to make your advertising plan work
  • Offline advertising (tv, magazines, radio billboards, etc) drive internet search which then leads to a transaction
  • Niche magazine deliver an opt-in reader
  • Balanced advertising outreach is the only guaranteed outreach for success

Marketing Fail: What to NOT do at a Bridal Show

I’ve been holding onto this image for a while to share. Honestly, it’s a pretty hilarious #marketingfail in my opinion.  This is the booth directly across from one of our Occasions booths at a Georgia Bridal Show a few years ago.  Do you see this guy?  He sat like this for the majority of the show.  He looks pretty approachable and eager to earn your business, right?  Wrong.

bridal show employee

The solution is simple.  If you want to attract new clients and book business at bridal shows you have to get up and get engaged.  Period.  Push the table to the side, hold onto your marketing materials to hand to passer-byers, invite brides in and stand up!


Can a Business Rely on Word of Mouth Alone?

It depends.

While monitoring my web traffic to marriedwithemployees.com I noticed quite a bit of traffic coming from the search phrase “Can a business rely on word of mouth alone?”  While I’ve addressed similar topics before, I’ve never really answered this particular question so let’s take a look.

You asked…

“Can a business rely on word of mouth alone?”

It depends….on what you expect to get out of your business.

So I will ask you….

How much money do you want to make? 
This number will determine the volume of business your company needs to be doing to equal the amount of money you want to make.  But don’t forget about all of your expenses too.  When you calculate your cost of doing business with your salary desires… ask yourself. Do I personally know enough people to hire me and then trust their circle of friends to hire me to in order to reach that number?

How quick do you need to make that money?
Relying on word of mouth puts the growth of your business in someone else’s court. You have to wait for them to talk about your company and refer you to a friend.  You’re not marketing on your time.  Are you okay with waiting around for buzz to build?

What’s your wow factor?  
Let’s be honest. Not every app is Instagram, and not every undergarment is Spanx.  Stories of overnight world wide expansion due to social media sharing or celebrity shout outs simply do not happen to every business.   And that is OK!   There will always be companies that benefit tremendously from word of mouth buzz, but the thing to remember is that will not happen to every business… but it does not discredit the need and unique role of every other business.  There’s no shame in running a regular ole photography business or day spa in your local community that makes great money for you and your staff.  Those companies that do experience that overnight organic popularity do so because of their wow factor.  They were first, or they created a solution to a problem no one else had before and not every business does that.  If you’re waiting on Oprah to call to put your on her “O-list” to finally make it big… ask yourself.. why would she call me over my competitor? If you have a wow factor like no other.. then keep at it. If not, then stop waiting around for the recognition and start marketing.

How much competition do you have?
Tide, Coca-Cola, Walmart, Macy’s…. these are all brands that everyone knows and they continue to use traditional advertising to promote their companies.  Why? To remain at the forefront of the consumers mind.  There is SO MUCH competition for these companies and they want to be certain that when you are walking the malls and grocery store aisles… you remember their brand over all the other competitors on the same shelf.

Are you the only photographer or day spa in town?  It’s not likely.  So to keep your business top of mind… advertise.

What You Can Learn from These Thought Provoking Print Ads That Are Quick to Catch the Reader’s Attention

I came across this great blog post that compiled  27 Creative Print Ads You’ll Love, but I have to say… I’m sick of writers opening their articles about print media with the idea that print might be a lost art just because people use digital devices these days.  Sure, I have a cell phone, ipad, a laptop and desktop computer, but at this very moment I also have no less than 10 magazines in my house between my office, bedroom nightstand, living room coffee table and bathroom.  And, I’ll wager to bet so do most other people.

People.  It’s not about print not working anymore, it’s about making print work for you.  It takes creativity, great imagery and a clear message to make the impact you need offline that makes the reader remember you online.  

Following are four of my favorite ads from the article and lessons I think every small business owner can learn from them when creating your own advertising pieces.

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Lesson #1:  Put some heart into your ads.   Pedigree is not only support pet adoption here, but they’re reminding you.. “You know what, Dogs ARE great when they compare moments with a dog to moments without.”   The ASPCA does a great job doing this with their Sarah McLaughlin commercials too.


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Lesson #2:  Make the reader think.  This is a remarkable ad that triggers a wake up call for digital readers.  How many times do you like or share something on Facebook, but never do anything more for a cause?  This ad is thought provoking and reminds us that it takes more than like on facebook to make a difference.

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Lesson #3:  Shock is not such a bad thing.  This ad made me say.  “Um, wow, you’re right. That’s ridiculous.”  Clearly there is something wrong with this picture and it’s calling readers like you to get involved with this group.

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Lesson #4:  Humor Helps.  This ad just made me giggle.  How great would it be to eat a Kiwi or even strawberry without having the seeds get stuck in your teeth!

All of these things make these ads memorable and strengthen the relationship between the reader and brand.  Remember, the goal is for your audience to REMEMBER your brand when it comes time for purchasing or to take action. 

That’s the power of print.

Do me a favor, count for me how many magazines are in your house right now and comment with the number below.  Thanks!