THE BLOG
10/15/2014 09:52 am ET Updated Dec 14, 2014

2 Ways to Gauge Whether Your Ads Are Working

You've invested a healthy chunk of change into an advertising schedule, you're running gorgeous ads, and you just KNOW they're going to work. Good for you!

And by "work," you meannn...?

Please don't say, "more customers!" Or, "more money!" Because those mini-phrases don't mean jack cracky.

Before you even spend one single dollar (and really, before you even develop the ad's creative or decide whether you'll run the ads online, on the TV, or what-have-you), you need to get crystal clear on what you want your advertising to achieve. Know what your starting point is and be ultra-specific in where you want it to go from there.

Want more customers? Determine your current customer volume. If you don't already have a pulse on that, start today by keeping track, and continue for at least 14 days. You can do some math to calculate a weekly average (total up the number of customers for all 14 days and divide by 2 to get the average weekly customer count).

Now set a goal of you want your customer volume increase to be. (Be realistic, for crying out loud. If you currently have about 25 customers per day coming in your doors, you aren't likely to increase that number to 200 per day. C'mon.)

Keep in mind that your ad's call to action will impact the customer count increase. For example, if you are just running a branding ad - just a logo and slogan, with minimal body copy and no real offer or call to action, you won't likely see a noticeable lift in customer count.

Offer a bunch of free product, however, and you're likely to see a dramatic increase in customers. (Hint: There's a happy place somewhere in the middle of these two extremes.) The day your ads start running, start tracking your customer count again to see how your ads are working for you.

Want more money? Are you talking about more sales? Higher sales? More profitable sales? Be specific about which of these you mean and gear your ad copy toward moving your customers in the right direction.

Just like in the example above, you will have to do some math to calculate where you are right now. If you want to increase the number of sales transactions, take a daily count of transactions over the course of 14 days and average it out. If you want your average sale to be a higher dollar value, or if you want a higher profit margin off of each sale, you'll have to cater the message in your ad toward selling higher-cost items or items with a higher profit margin.

Hopefully you'll see the increase you were expecting, but either way, you'll have an idea of your ads' effectiveness. You can make adjustments to your schedule or to your ad copy, if necessary.

These are only two ways of measuring your ads' effectiveness, and although there are certainly more ways to do it, this will hopefully help you with the most frequent business cries for "more customers!" and "more money!"

Kristan Braziel is a 25-year advertising veteran who specializes in media planning and buying. Her company, Braziel Media, offers a web-based platform that helps small businesses grow with quick, easy, and actionable advertising advice. Visit www.BrazielMedia.com to see how she can help your business.