Ready, Fire, Aim… to Improve Marketing Precision

by Lyle Heller, CU-VO

I hope you caught the illogical sequence of the title.  Many marketing campaigns seem to use this approach.  When the marketing budget is limited, determining the “aim” component is frequently ignored because of its expense.  After all, performing tests of different ads for a newspaper or radio campaign can be expensive.  As a result, many organizations just take a “shot” and hope for the best.

Surprisingly, the ready, fire, aim sequence may no longer be as illogical as it first seems.  This approach suggests firing and then determining the results and adjusting as needed.

Of course, this approach means the cost of each shot is low.  We would not think of sending a rocket to the moon without aiming first because the expense of each shot is extremely high.

The credit union website is reducing the cost of each “shot”.  Testing marketing and advertising strategies costing mega bucks just a few years ago are now available economically.  As the credit union website takes on a larger role in the credit union operation, a new capability becomes available to allow aiming the marketing campaign with precision.  (Or at least correcting the aim.)

For the sake of comparison, consider a radio advertising campaign.

The costs of radio ad development have declined dramatically over the last decade. Assume a ballpark range for a single-voice radio ad is $900-$1,000, including creative strategy, copywriting and production.

Budget the campaign to create two spots to test. The one that performs the best becomes the control ad.  Refine both ad and media elements to maximize ad performance.  If neither ad performs above the break-even level, then more tests of copy and presentation of different appeals are needed to produce that outcome.  The budget for this campaign is now at least $2,000.

Now this sounds like a really straight forward approach.  But, how are results determined?  Most likely, effectiveness will be determined through actual business obtained, such as car loans.  Given that there is typically some delay before such results a survey may be conducted to gauge audience reaction to the ads.  This task is labor intensive and time consuming.

With tools, such as Google Analytics, your credit union can now obtain objective data at affordable costs and in a reasonable timeframe.

Here is an example.  Suppose video overlays using different scripts and personalities are produced.  For a cost similar to a radio advertising campaign the credit union may “market test” and obtain objective data for essentially the cost of credit union labor.  (The reason for suggesting video overlays is found in the fact that different versions may be implemented without changing the web pages.)

Assume a video overlay campaign for your credit union car loans.  You will recall from earlier articles that words and body language can have substantially different results.  Wikipedia found different wording resulted in 15 times as many donations as the next most effective fundraiser.  Malcolm Gladwell in Blink states that impressions are formed very quickly, such as ten seconds.  We previously discussed the notion of membership temperament and their response to different words.  All of these aspects are reasons for testing audience response.

There are several factors of interest in an advertising campaign:  Did the visitor see the message and for how long?  Did the visitor respond to the message?  Analytics provide answers to such questions.  Bounce rate and time spent on the page are two key elements.  (Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who leave the page immediately.  Time spent is a relative measure.  Generally the longer a visitor lingers on the page, the greater the likelihood they are interested.)

By having different video overlays data may be objectively obtained and compared.  The credit union will know member response to different scripts based on actual events, not just the anecdotal evidence provided by comments from a few people.

Just imagine, different scripts may be tested on the credit union website and then use those scripts in radio and advertising campaigns.  Your credit union will know how a script performed with your target audience before committing to expensive mass media.

This series is authored by Lyle Heller of CU-VO.  Mr. Heller holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from University of Wisconsin – Whitewater and a Masters of Business Administration in Production and Operations from Marquette University.  Mr. Heller served as Executive Vice President of two CUNA organizations.  He has lectured at the university level in Quantitative Decision Analysis, Simulation, Systems Analysis, and Marketing for more than ten years.  Additionally, he was a top-ranked winner of the 2005 Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan contest.  CU-VO is a strategic partner of CUNA Strategic Services to provide video overlays to credit unions.  Learn more at and follow CUVOTweet.

Lyle Heller

Lyle Heller

Lyle Heller is the Vice President at CU-VO. Mr. Heller holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from University of Wisconsin - Whitewater and a Masters of Business Administration ... Web: Details