Want to save time and money on your marketing initiatives and advertising campaigns? Heed the advice of marketing gurus everywhere: test and measure. Not only will you save your precious time and money, you'll increase profit margins, and figure out what actually works for your sign making business. Read on to find out four steps you can take to make sure you are getting the most out of your advertising adventures.

1. Live by the TOC formula. Target, offer and copy. the three elements of a strong advertisement.

First, you need to know your target market. Then, you need to place your ad where that target market is going to see it.

Next, offer something specific with your ad. It shouldn't be a general offer, but something special that will draw them in. If you are not sure how to do this then look online for tips from online marketers.

Finally, call those readers to action. Get them to look at your website, phone you, email you, find you on Facebook. Tell them what you want them to do next, and be ready for them when they find out.

2. Test the waters. Start with test ads in the classifieds, in Google ads, or in small ad spaces.

Test ads are an easy and inexpensive way to see if your ad is on target, with your target market that is. You may find the ad you expected to do well tanked, while another performed exceedingly well. Test ads show you where you should be putting your hard earned money.

3. Keep track. If you have managed to target the right market with a good offer and given them the next step, you should be getting some responses. Keep track of these responses and use them to modify your ads.

Remember, the goal is to boost your response. Tweak your best ad to try and make it better. If an ad isn't working, get rid of it!

4. Ramp it up. Once you have an ad that is working for you, clean it up and set it free. Up the amount of space of your ad, or the frequency with which it is being run, if you are working with a print ad.

Online, increase your daily pay-per-click amounts or try new niche markets. You'll find the sweet spot after awhile and be able to manage effective ad campaigns with ease.

Testing and measuring your advertising campaigns is a lot of work up front, but it is well worth the effort. After all, you will find the winning ads, and get the losing ones out of circulation before they cost you big. What ways have you found to be effective means of advertising for your small business?