We have an opportunity to be listed in an online vendor directory. This information will be accessed through a website listing that’s accompanied by a coupon or discount. The cost is $895 for a year. Is this a good marketing tool and what questions should I ask a representative to find out more information?

 

Answer:
Good marketing tools: Of course, there is no silver bullet to a successful marketing campaign. Whether via print, coupons, business website, or other form of advertising, a business must be aggressive and break through the advertising clutter to attract the customers’ attention. If you have never used this type of advertising before, this may offer an affordable way to determine if can be effective for your business.  

 
Return on investment: As to whether ads are cost effective, you’ll want to calculate marketing ROI by tabulating customer leads, website visitors, use of coupons, and other results specific to an ad. For example, businesses can retain coupons and other print ads seen by customers to quantify past ad results; however, in some cases, businesses should simply ask customers “How did you hear about us?” in order to compile quantitative information for each advertising method and calculate the ROI.
 
There are several different ways to measure marketing ROI (sales, gross profit, etc); however, a common method to measure and compare advertising expenditures with ROI is cost per lead. For example, a direct mail distribution of 6,000 pieces that cost $3,000 and generated 60 leads (1%) would cost $50 per lead. Telemarketing leads may cost $7 to $50 each. In your situation, if you can generate 40 customers for $895, then you would have a cost per lead of about $22, which you can compare to your other advertising methods. You can review industry discussions and tools for calculating marketing ROI at websites like the following:
 

 
Selecting print advertising: Consider the following factors when selecting print advertising.
 
1. Reader demographics: You should determine how many employees of the online vendor directory live in the geographic area that you service. Also, you can ask about their average income level to determine how many are potential customers for your business.
 
2. Ad statistics: You can ask the representative about any quantitative information or statistics they have regarding the sales leads generated or other measurable success other businesses have had with the newsletter ads.  
 
3. Cancellation clause: When trying new advertising methods, it is generally important to have a cancellation clause. This will enable you to terminate the contract in a reasonable period of time (90 to 180 days, for example) without any significant financial penalty if the directory does not generate the targeted number of sales leads or is otherwise ineffective at reaching your target audience.
 
4. Industry information: You can review additional considerations when selecting print advertising at industry websites like the following:
 

Edwin Bevens
Edwin Bevens is Editor of SmallBizClub.com, and specializes in communications for Tarkenton Companies in a variety of media. He develops, produces, and maintains content across a wide range of channels. With a background in journalism and publishing, Edwin focuses on helping small business owners find the right match of voice, audience, and medium for every message.Connect with him on