Getting the Most Out of Your Advertising Dollars: The Toddler Stress-Test

"But ... why?" Image source:

“But … why?” Image source:

As a business coach, one of the most common frustrations I hear is that advertising just doesn’t deliver the right results. This often comes from a deeply rooted misconception of how advertising works. It’s not enough to simply create an ad and buy some air time, impressions or space on a page. The ads need to be created with a specific purpose in mind.

For any advertising campaign to be truly effective, it needs to be in complete alignment with your business goals. To get the results you want, you need to know what those results are. I’m not talking about a specific number of leads generated or a target number of conversions. I’m talking about the fundamental actions you want the person watching, listening or reading the ad to take.

How do you know what that action is? Simple, ask a toddler! Unknowingly, they’ll make you break down everything you’re considering to their core elements. The result is an effective stress test that’s instantly familiar to anyone with a toddler.

You: “I really want this ad to make people call my business.”

Toddler: “Why do you want more people to call you?”

You: “I want them to call me so that I can present more products and services to them.”

Toddler: “Why do you want to do that?”

You: “Because I want to make more sales?”

Toddler: “Why do you think advertising here is the best way to make more sales?”

You: “Because this was the first place I thought of when I decided it was time to advertise.”

Toddler: “Is this the best place to reach people who might want to buy your product?”

You: “Well … Now that you mention it …”

Granted I used a pretty smart toddler for this example, but you get the point. These questions can seem reductive, and just like a conversation with a real toddler, the answers can stop being meaningful past a certain point. You don’t want to find yourself getting exasperated trying to rationalize the existence of and need for money, for instance. But peeling away a few layers of any onion is always useful. You might discover that what you actually want to accomplish doesn’t align with what you’re trying to advertise.

This process can also reveal missing stages between your advertising and your sales pipeline. If your goal with advertising is simply to “Get more people to call you,” that is something that is pretty easy to accomplish. But are the right people calling you? Are you getting called by people who both need your product and can afford it? If not, more people calling you may not result in more sales. The end result is just dealing with more phone calls, not more sales.

And if the right people are calling you, do you have an effective process in place to funnel those leads into a sales approach that will convert many of them to customers?? What’s the next step after they call you? If there isn’t a plan in place, and those calls don’t convert, you’re no better off than if you didn’t spend the money to advertise in the first place.

There’s an additional wrinkle here: Even when your advertising is in line with your business goals, you still need to make sure that your message is reaching the right audience. Not every advertising channel reaches the right audience. How do you find that perfect match? That’s a big topic, and I’ll explain it in detail in the next blog post.