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Meet the Father of Retail Marketing

By: Mark Kleinschmidt

What would he think of SEO?

You may not be familiar with John Wanamaker but he is one of the great pioneers of marketing. He opened a retail store in Philadelphia during the early part of the 20th century which grew to 16 stores and eventually became part of Macy’s. His store is considered the first modern department store and he was the first to use price tags, offer a money back guarantee and championed the idea of “the customer is always right”.  But most importantly, he was the first to embrace newspaper advertising.  In fact, he used full page ads in the local newspaper and pretty much created the concept of mass marketing.

He also is known for this famous quote:  “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half”.

I first heard this quote when I was in grad school and it has come back to have a lot of meaning as we actually have a lot of data about how online advertising is doing versus print ads back in the time of John Wannamaker.  With the use of SEO and advanced analytics, John Wanamaker would be able to get the answer to his question.

But how about you? How effective is your advertising?

When you advertise, it should not be “one and done”.  You should view it as a campaign and have various supporting activities and you must also place your ads on several different platforms.  You should come up with a budget for paid ads and a timetable.  Don’t worry if it is a small amount, the important thing is that you have decided to invest money and have a plan.  As you move forward you want to measure your results.  There are several ways a small business can measure the effectiveness of its advertising:

  1. Sales Conversion Rates: Ultimately, the aim of advertising is to boost sales. By keeping track of sales before, during, and after an advertising campaign, a business can gain an understanding of the impact of their efforts.
  2. Website Traffic: Increase in traffic on the website after initiating an advertising campaign indicates the campaign is attracting interest. Key performance indicators like new visitors, page views, average time spent on the website can provide insights.
  3. Customer Acquisition Costs: Determine this by dividing the total cost of the campaign by the number of customers acquired during this period. This will help understand how cost-effective the campaign is at gaining new customers.
  4. Social Media Engagement: Keep track of likes, shares, and comments on your posts. More engagement usually means your audience found the content relevant and interesting.
  5. Digital Analytics: Use tools like Google Analytics to gain in-depth insights into how your online advertising efforts are faring. Find out how many people viewed your ad, clicked on it, or took an action after seeing it.
  6. Return on Investment (ROI): Subtract the original cost of your ad campaign from the profit gained from new sales and then divide this by the original cost of your ad. This will yield the return on investment figure, a percentage that can be used to assess the overall profitability of the ad campaign.

We have come a long way since John Wanamaker was placing print ads and hope we generate some sales.  Today, we can very easily answer his question.  So let me ask you: How is your advertising doing?

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