Profitable Conservatory Marketing – Chapter 9

Welcome to chapter 9 of the RPS Software guide to profitable conservatory marketing.

Introduction – Marketing is a PROCESS

Often, people think of marketing as an event, such as placing an advert or exhibiting at a show. However, marketing is about relationships with other people. This lasts longer than a simple advert or single event and is all about regular communications.

The more often you communicate, the more your customer is likely to trust you and the more likely they are to buy from you when they are ready. There is much more about this throughout the chapters of the book, and in the individual sections which we are releasing now for people to download.

In this ninth chapter we concentrate on Testing.

One of the toughest things about marketing is working out what’s working as opposed to what’s costing you money. This applies to advertising, mailshots, social media and just about every other form of marketing. The good news is that there is a way of finding out what’s working, but many suppliers of marketing platforms in the industry don’t want you to find out. After all, if you knew it wasn’t working, you’d cancel it, wouldn’t you?

One little known, but important, fact is that 80% of all marketing campaigns fail. That doesn’t mean the money has been wasted as, at least in your case, the information gained is key to making your next campaign more successful.

I’ve even had customers and advertising executives tell me that it is impossible to measure whether their marketing is working!

You may know all about testing, but it came as something of a revelation to me, so, after having spent a lot of money on trade adverts without any real understanding of whether they were working, I thought it would be worth explaining the principles.

Identifying how your prospects find you

Any form of advert needs to have a simple way of identifying how the customer found you.  Traditionally this was done by asking people to write to department xyz, where xyz differed for every advert. There are many other neat ways of doing this nowadays, but before I get ahead of myself, it’s worth explaining why we need to know this.

Imagine running the same advert in two local papers. For simplicity, let’s assume that both ads cost the same amount. The Berkshire Bugle resulted in 10 enquiries whereas Huntingdon Herald resulted in 25 enquiries. Assuming the enquiries are of equal value, most people would opt for the second (actually it’s a bit more complex, as I’ll explain in a moment).

This is testing at its very simplest – try two approaches and pick the winner (which we call the “control”). Now try again, with a view to beating the control. The process goes on and on, getting better and better. Of course, unless we know which prospects read which advert, we can’t do any of this stuff, hence the need to track the “lead source”.

Next time, we can stick with the winning publication and try to improve our advert. Or we can leave the ad alone and try a different position, or size, or colour. If the new ad gets a better response than the control, it can supersede the control. If it gets a worse response, try to beat the control another way.

The really key thing about this is that it’s not about guesswork and hunches – if you think something will make a difference you can test it to find out.


The great thing about this is that in many cases, it scales. If you mailshot 100 people and 5 respond, then it’s almost certain that if you mail-shot 1000 people you’ll get something in the same ratio (maybe 30 or 60, but not 1 or 500). So try to test small (and cheaply). If it works, you can always grow the campaign later. If it doesn’t, try a different approach.

Measurement – the hard way

In days of old, when the fastest technology available was the filing cabinet, informed advertisers would painstakingly record every response to every advert and work out which ads were doing best using small armies of staff to calculate response rates. Some years ago we were involved in writing software to do this, so it’s something I’m pretty familiar with. The principles haven’t changed, but it’s much easier to do these days.

Measurement – the easy way

Nowadays, things are much easier. If you use Google AdWords, it’s really simple to set up tests and analyse the results. Google will identify the best performing ad and give you relative response rates.

In more traditional areas, such as print advertising, it’s possible to buy blocks of 0800 or 0845 numbers very cheaply for use in a single advert or publication – they can be configured to ring through to your office and you can identify the number called from each. Another, more technical, approach that we’ve tried is to buy different domain names such as and publish them in adverts.

Unfortunately, this still involves some manual work to tie up sales with ads, but it is well worth doing.

Warning: Response Rates Aren’t the Key Thing

Although it might sound obvious, it never ceases to amaze me how many pundits seem to neglect the fact that the only real figure which matters is how many sales each marketing effort achieves. An advert, which gains one lead and generates a £10K profit, may be better than one that gets 100 leads and generates £2K profit.

All of this has been known and understood by a small number of successful businesses, but you only need to look in the national press to realize how many businesses are missing a trick.

Click-Through Rates

Whilst I sing the praises of mechanisms like Google AdWords, you do need to be aware of the misconception that high click-through rates mean a successful advert. If your advert is not well-targeted you may get people clicking on it because it looks interesting or attractive, but realise when they are directed to your site, that your product is irrelevant to them.

For instance an ad with a keyword ‘Door Handles’, a picture of a door handle and text like ‘High quality door fittings’ may attract consumers, even though it is aimed at the trade. Google will show this to anyone who searches for ‘Door Handles’, and charge you for any clicks, but they were never a true lead.

You therefore have to find some way of capturing whether the click was for a real lead or not. One way you can do this is with a sign-up / landing page, encouraging people to sign up for helpful tips or more information. You can then count these sign-ups as successes. And use these figures to decide whether a campaign is successful or not.

This also highlights the importance of having different landing pages for each advert. These pages can be aimed to reinforce the message of the specific advert and because each is different, tracking the response to each advert is much simpler.

Testing Takes Time

Don’t be fooled. Testing will take some time. Yes, we are much more fortunate than in previous times, but you do need to invest the time to design a test and analyse the results. It’s worth it though.

You could be shelling out money on campaigns that aren’t even covering their costs.

If you don’t test, you’ll never know. Got it? Good!


It’s common to set budgets in a business for various activities. However, in this respect marketing is special. Marketing should produce a return on investment. If every pound spent will produce a positive return on investment, then the only limits on marketing spend are cash-flow, and whether the business can deliver at the level required.

There is no “right” amount of marketing spend – this comes right back to you identifying the lifetime value of a customer, and what you are prepared to pay to “buy” one.