How long do you stick with an advertising campaign?

My question to everyone reading this is:

How long do you stick with a print advertising campaign and how do you count return rates?

There’s a reason I ask this question:

A great many operators in here, by the looks of their posts, try something one time and if they don’t get an immediate “hit”, they proceed to dump it and try something else, whereas consistency, above all else prevails.

One important factor I include in performance review is measurability of the marketing. Can you actually “count” the number of orders created by this campaign? There are a couple ways of doing so:

  1. Collect every coupon used when placing an order and physically count them at the end of the week.
  2. Create pricing that is different than other coupon pricing so that you can enter it into your POS system when taking the order.

In the past I’ve done both… and then matched up at the end of the week/month. Redeemed coupons are then divided by the total number distributed to give me the return generated by the campaign. I won’t decide on a marketing direction unless I’m absolutely comfortable with the medium, because I will NOT discontinue the advertising until I’ve collected at least three months of data. It is only then that I make a decision on keeping or discontinuing each practice. Yes, I’ve wasted a lot of money in the past by sticking with things that obviously didn’t work. I’ve also been pleasantly surprised at the return rates of some marketing ideas that really didn’t kick in until the 2nd or 3rd run.

Every now and then someone asks about return rate of a marketing venue. I of course, in my patented (and sometimes long-winded) over-the-top responses spout off all kinds of numbers based on return rates and return on investment ratios. These numbers are not pulled out of the air, but are calculated and stored on my computer from previous campaigns, then reviewed when the need arises.

So, I’m curious as to what a lot of your guys say. How long do you stick with your advertising campaigns and how do you count return rates? I’m interested in seeing your posts.



An excellent question, j_r0kk. I was getting the same impression from reading many of the posts here. I think the problem is that as owners we are so focused on cash flow that if we try something and we don’t immediately see cash flowing in from it, we become worried that we are wasting money or running out of money to use towards something else that might work “faster” or “better”.

In honesty, whenever an operator tries out an advertising or marketing program you MUST BUDGET for several months of the program. That means bugeting for the cost of the program and against the use of the funds for other programs. The most successful programs often took months to take off.

I agree with both points. 3 months is my standard. If I notice it starting to gain momentum I may consider extending it.

I can’t even count the number of promotions I ran where the success of it was based off of the 3rd run. In a lot of cases the first ad puts the idea of your place in that customer’s head, but it does not equal sale by itself.

Typically our campaigns run about 3 months. It’s not our decision, we have to follow what that franchise is promoting next. But 3 months seems to work well for us.

We track the campaign using numbers on the coupons. 100’s are door hangers, 200’s are box toppers, 300’s are newspaper wraps and inserts. If you were to look at our coupons the ID numbers are huge compared to the tiny ones you usually see hidden in the corner of a coupon near the fine print.

The key is to make sure that the drivers and cashiers ask for the coupon and that they are keyed in correctly into the POS. If those two things happen it makes it easy to run reports to see what kind of return you’re getting from each marketing tool.

I agree that this is a good way of tracking where your coupons come from but your franchise does not do this. You have a call center and they don’t ask for the coupon nor does the drivers or even when you pick up your order.

This is a very hard question. Do you run different coupons for every print advertisement? How about trying to get your drivers to get all the coupons on every delivery…not going to happen. How about the customer that forgets her coupon? Are you going to charge full menu price??? I’m not talking about a killer coupon offer here, of course you need those coupons.

I am a big believer in coupon pricing around your menu items. Customers get this deal with or without the coupon. Customers don’t want a $2.00 off coupon or save $5 on any order over $25. They want to see coupons such as…

12 cut 1 topping and a dozen wings 14.95
Two 8 cut cheese pizzas for 10.95
Two 12" Hoagies for XXXXX
pizza and breadstixs for xxxxxx

you get the picture.

I run the same coupons with 2 different advertising companies. I don’t need to know which one works because I know they both do.

The best method I have found is to ask customers where they saw your ad. Have you ever wondered how polls can predict winners in politics when they only sample 920 likely voters??? Just ask your customers and you will be pleasantly surprised when they give you all the marketing data you need without having to count coupons.

j_r0kk, knowing how you love numbers and such, I think one thing that you cannot count is the actual IMPACT the advertising has.

There’s a local place I go that has a $5 off $20 coupon that I can print off to my heart’s desire. I probably went there more often than I did without the coupon. Let’s say I normally go there once/week without the coupon, they get $80/month from me. With the coupon, let’s say it’s 50% more often, so 6 times for $90/month from me. They’re losing money on the coupon.

Now, let’s look at the other side of things. What about the coupons that go out that aren’t redeemed (because they don’t like the particular offer or forget the coupon) BUT they come in because the coupon came to them (door hanging, mailers, whatever).

The only way to effectively “run the numbers” is to have a very steady business with no advertising, then start advertising and see what the net effect is. You then would have to stop advertising again to see how much of the new business you then lost because the offer wasn’t out there anymore.

There are some people who will only come in with a coupon. When I worked at LC, they had the same special every day of the year. When the ADVO drops came out, you could expect more business. Again, the special was the same every day, coupon or not, but just putting that coupon in their hands managed to make the customers order. If memory serves, the spike was usually 20-30% of sales.