I hope you find my writing and business tips and observations useful. My business and blog are dedicated to helping businesses communicate clearly and reach their potential. Read, subscribe to my newsletter, enjoy!Tash

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Doing the same thing for how long?

One definition of insanity is to keep doing what you’ve been doing and expect different results.

Robin Cangie makes a similar point with “it’s not the metrics. Your marketing just sucks“.

So if you’ve been using Facebook for your business for 6 months and got nothing in your business to show for it. Does it make sense to keep posting on Facebook every day – or is it time to look at other options?

Maybe your Facebook campaign isn’t working because

  • your target audience doesn’t use Facebook
  • your messages are too social and not enough about your business industry/expertise
  • your profile is all about you and not helping customers
  • it leads to a website that isn’t good at converting leads to sales
  • one of many other possibilities

Measuring marketing (whether social media or otherwise) is important, but not more important than running good marketing efforts in the right place at the right time (yes, the 4 Ps of marketing still apply).

Every time your marketing results are less than expected (or desired), you need to decide whether the poor results are due to a short time frame (looking at results too soon can be misleading), inaccurate measurements, a poor campaign or something else. From that, you can decide to continue the marketing, adjust it or stop it.

Going back to our Facebook example, something has to change. Maybe it is move to another social media channel (where your audience actually spend time) or maybe it just needs a new approach.

“There’s no point flogging a dead horse” applies to marketing, too. However, you must give each campaign a chance – no additional sales after a week on Facebook doesn’t mean Facebook is a poor strategy for your business. Sometimes it is a slow process to see results from our actions.

How do you judge when something has been tried long enough to move onto a new strategy? Or do you just keep trying the same thing even when there is little chance of success?

Improving your surveys and questionnaires

Why do you run surveys or feedback questionnaires?

hand holding a pen over a form

By hand or online, make your survey/feedback questions work for your business.

Sometimes, when I read questions in surveys and other forms, I do wonder how important the final data is for the person behind the questions – do they run them for fun rather than as a valid business tool?

Here are two questions I was recently asked to answer – and some tips on how to avoid the same mistakes…

Give everyone a possible answer

“When will you purchase a new car?
within a  month
1 – 2 months
2 – … months
… – 24 months
never – I don’t purchase new cars”

As we purchased a new car a week ago, I couldn’t give an honest answer to that question – we won’t be buying another within 24 months but ‘never’ is wrong, too.

TIP: make sure you provide an answer for all possibilities, even if one is ‘unsure’ or ‘don’t know’. If your format allows, ‘other’ not only gives options but can gain more insight for you.

Write questions to get the data you need

“Can you tell us if you are pregnant? Yes No”

Yes I can tell you but the yes answer may mislead you as I’m not pregnant and I assume that’s what you really want to ask me about… I could get really pedantic here and note that I CAN answer but choose not to ( writing ‘please tell us’ or ‘Will you tell us’ are grammatically better than ‘can you tell us’).

TIP: Make sure the question is asking for the information you actually want. In this case, the much simpler ‘are you pregnant?’ would have done the trick.

Getting meaningful and useful results

If you don’t plan your questions carefully, the results you get can be completely meaningless. For example, if 5% of respondents bought a car recently and answered ‘within a week’ you may mistakenly think the next week is prime time to sell a car. There is no way you can tell that someone gave a false answer to compensate for questions they don’t understand/misunderstand/can’t answer.

Depending on how you intend using the answers, skewing results like this can have serious implications. For example, if you plan a marketing campaign and spends thousands of dollars in April when the real results showed September to be effective, you’ve wasted money (in the survey and the marketing). What if you base a new product or pricing structure on the answers collected?

Checking, editing, proof reading and rechecking your questions may seem tedious. The details in faulty questions that I occassionally point out may seem trivial.

The bottom line, however, is that good survey and feedback questions are more fun to answer, give accurate and useful results, and build your credibility (through attention to detail and simplicity for respondents).

I suggest you always get someone else to read your questions before you finalise any form or survey. And, yes, this is a service Word Constructions provides…

What other small businesses are doing online

About two thirds of small businesses using online marketing in some way say that new customers find them through search engines. Would you agree that is a key way that customers find you? If so, what are you doing about your search engine results?

The American Express OPEN small business search marketing survey (March 2011) has a number of statsistics to show where small businesses see online marketing impacting their sales.

While it is a list of survey results (yawn, yawn!) it is a summary so easy to read and can give some useful insights for trends within small business which is useful for comparisons and particularly useful if you sell to that sector. My opening questions are also examples of how you can use this information to assess your own online marketing.

Read the report and let me know what you learn from it…

Give options that make sense

I have written before about the need to use clear questions in surveys to get meaningful results, and given some tips on how to write such questions. Every time I do a survey with poor questions I cringe – do they really not care about getting good results or just don’t understand that not everyone knows what they are really asking?

One of the most common questions I have seen in online surveys is the following:

Are you …


Technically, the answer is yes  – I am male or female and so is every other human I know of! Fairly pointless question to ask unless you have a third group responding.

In this case, we can see what is really being asked (“which are you?”) and the available answers lead us to answering correctly, but it isn’t always so easy.

It was great recently to be asked to help a major research centre refine their questionnaire. They had determined the questions they wanted to ask but understood that how they asked was critical to the final result of their research.

So if you are preparing surveys or questionnaires, my two key tips are:

  • read the questions to make sure the options answer the question and suit your needs
  • get at least one other person to read the questions to ensure they make sense to a less involved pair of eyes

Use your words wisely!

tracking advertising

A few days ago, I was reminded of the importance of tracking advertising through a story a friend told me.

The story: a company spent $60,000 or so on an advertising campaign, but didn’t implement any means of tracking the results of the ad. Meaning they have spent $60,000 and have no idea if it raised their brand awareness or brought in customers and revenue (I’m not sure which was the aim of their campaign.) So when the radio stations come back and ask if the company wants to repeat the ad, who knows if they should say yes or no…

The moral: tracking advertising is important for a number of reasons:

  • makes it easy to decide on a repeat of the campaign
  • helps you better understand your demographic (e.g. they may listen to the radio but not respond to the type of ad you ran)
  • assess the ROI (return on investment) and value of the campaign – $60,000 is nothing if it results in $500,000 of sales, but it is a ridiculous amount of money if it results in $100 profit
  • tracking and comparing different ads allows you to decide the most effective advertising for your business (e.g. radio vs TV vs major newspapers vs local advertising) PLUS you can tweak the actual ad to find the best presentation, too

Even if your budget is nowhere near $60,000, tracking of advertising is a worthwhile exercise.

Don’t assume that free ads aren’t worth tracking, either. Why?

  • the results from a free ad can be a useful comparison with paid advertising
  • free ads can be a great place to test different wording and formats for your ad before you pay for its placement (assuming a very similar audience of course)
  • if the ad is free in monetary terms but costs a lot of time, tracking will help you determine if you are getting enough reward for your time
  • a free ad may be attracting the wrong people – people who don’t become customers and use up your valuable time. If you know many false leads are coming from a certain ad, stop that ad even if it is free!

Have you used tracking with your advertising? Did you find it a useful activity, even if tedious and time consuming?


P.S. You can read more about the basics of tracking your advertising or assessing the results of tracking in my articles.

Promotional articles

I admit that with my blog and a lot of client work, I haven’t written as many promotional articles recently as I used to, but I still think they are a valuable way to promote your business very cheaply.

I have done little to market my website online, yet it ranks quite well because I have so much content on there and many sites link to or use my promotional articles on their site.

Melissa has also had positive experiences with article marketing – she got radio coverage from an article she wrote 5 years ago! I also was approached by a major TV show about one of my articles, so it is amazing what can happen from a simple article!

What specific results have you gained through article marketing?

P.S. As part of my promotional articles presentation this weekend, I prepared some notes for the conference handbook. I believe that copies of the handbook will be available afterwards from the workshop notes section of the Business Mums Guides site if you would like my tips on writing and using articles, plus notes from many other speakers.