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Pretesting ad effectiveness

You've thought long and hard and have written a complex advertisement, or a set of ads, and wonder now how readers, viewers, or listeners are going to respond. There is a lot of money on the line, and, as always, it's crucial that the ads return a healthy profit for time and money expended. How can you find out about prospective customer responses BEFORE you commit? 

Try testing the ad(s) on real people who can be real customers (not colleagues, not your relatives and not your friends—real prospective customers.)

What can you test for? Here are eight copy-testing concepts, paraphrased from the textbook Marketing Hospitality, by Cathy H.C. Hsu, and Tom Powers. This type of advance testing can produce quantifiable data and information:

  • Persuasiveness: will the offering and the words make people want to buy?
  • Communications: is the point we want to make the point that really comes across?
  • Recall: will customers remember our message among all the others in the media when it comes time to buy?
  • Self-Involvement: does the message strike personal emotional chords with the people it targets? Do they see themselves as needing/desiring what you offer? 
  • Credibility: does the message sound believable to those it targets?
  • Clarity: is the message(s) comprehensible?
  • Tastefulness: would the copy turn anyone off? Does it appropriately reflect your company?
  • Stimulation: does your message make yur products/services stand out creatively so they will be noticed among thousands of others?

If you have asked and answered your questions about the most appropriate approach to use—deductive or inductive—and if you have taken steps to objectively test your advertising copy on “real” prospective customers, you are better prepared than many to succeed in the competitive world of advertising. If you have not, don’t be surprised if advertising outcomes are consistently mediocre.   

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