Testing the marketing waters

I work regularly with a company named OmPay, a client that has a contract with the Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA) to sell SmartCards – a cashless payment system that works in all single-head and multi-bay parking meters and will soon work in all PPA garages and taxi cabs. These SmartCards are available for purchase online and in close to 200 different retail locations around the Philadelphia Metro area, including 7-11, Wawa, and Conestoga Bank.  But while the cards are easily found, the public needs to be made aware of where and how to buy them.  Awareness is just one phase of a process to drive success.  And good marketing drives awareness.
For a long time, we’ve been working on new and better ways to promote the online and in-store sales.  We’ve used radio, the Internet, put ads in various newspapers, sponsored special events, partnered with stores, created window-cling stickers, created Point-Of-Purchase materials, and run guerrilla operations including putting branded “Post-It” style notes over the digital timer screen on meters around the city.  Some things work really well and some things have shown less than desirable results.  One of the most important things to remember when you work in marketing is that results are important, and even bad results provide you with a wealth of information and a path to greater success.
Right now, the SmartCard works in 14,500 different parking meters that are spread across the entire city of Philadelphia.  Each of those meters has a small sticker on it’s face that has simple instructions about using the card and can also be used for promotion.  So when it was time to change those stickers (a huge task that has to be done manually), OmPay decided to test the effectiveness of using an ad on the sticker to promote new retail locations within a few blocks of where the meter is located.  The new ads just started showing up, but this is a great example of using a small campaign to find out what works and what doesn’t.
When you plan to run a marketing campaign, make sure you’re creative and think about all of the possibilities that are out there.  When it comes down to execution and calculating ROI, make sure you have a way to test your ideas and track the results in very detailed ways; analytics and metrics for success are very important.  And when you’ve completed a campaign and gathered results, use that information to adjust the next campaign and the one that follows that one too.  Each step will help you build a map for that path to greater success.  Because who really likes being lost?