John Wanamaker, the 19th century retailing magnate, is reputed to have said "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half."
Actually, it's probably more like 99% of the money you spend on advertising that's wasted.
But how do you know that? How do you measure the effectiveness of your advertising?
Let's say you invest in a quarter-page Yellow Pages entry to get your name out there and to get people enquiring about your business.
You can get whoever answers the phone to ask the enquirer that age-old question - How did you hear about us?
But it is difficult to ensure that this is done consistently, much less recorded and tracked to determine the actual effectiveness - or ineffectiveness - of your Yellow Pages ad.
The same is usually true of radio ads, classifieds and most other traditional advertising methods.
It's possible to use various codes to track the response from your different ad sources, but the problem is that these methods are not always reliable or practical in the real world.
And they are specially unreliable if you depend on your employees to request and record the codes.
What you really need is a way to know the likely returns from your advertising expenditure - before you actually spend any money on advertising.
That would be like marketing nirvana for most business owners.
Well, as it happens, you can use some simple and reliable technologies available via the Internet today to set up advertising campaigns that are nearly 100% trackable.
And once you've tested an ad campaign with a small sample of your audience, you'll know your conversion rate when you roll it out to a bigger audience.
That way, you can get the maximum bang for your advertising bucks.
What's more, you can change your advertising message - midstream - to further enhance the performance of your advertisements.
Try getting the folks at the Yellow Pages to do that for you... next year.
Would you like to discover how to harness the power of the Internet to produce advertising campaigns that give you concrete figures on their success rate?
Enrol in my complimentary 5-part 'Grow Your Business' e-Course and find out more about trackable marketing systems.