Ask the Expert - Tracking Advertising Spent Versus Results - Accounting Software Secrets
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Ask the Expert – Tracking Advertising Spent Versus Results

Ask the Expert – Tracking Advertising Spent Versus Results
Issue 2.19 May 20, 2003

There are many ways to track information in QuickBooks sometimes being a little creative brings effective results.

Q – My business is driven by advertising and other related marketing expenses. I have been trying to find a more automated way to track the results of each campaign. Do you have any suggestions?
A – Each situation is different, but here is a general solution that has worked for several clients that depend on referrals and various advertising methods to continue to expand.

Try using the customer type field. Typically the customer type field is used for tracking different groups of customers. It is effective for creating reports or mailing labels for analysis and marketing purposes. The example used in the sample company that comes with the QuickBooks software is commercial versus residential. This concept can be used for the origin of the customer as opposed to the type of business of the customer.

The customer type field is effective because it is based on a list (so the data entry of the marketing method will be consistent) and a report of sales by type is quickly and easily created. Below are the steps to use this method.

1. As each new customer is set up, enter the type of marketing activity used to obtain the business in the customer type field. This field is located on the additional info tab.

2. Customize the sales report by customer detail for the appropriate date range, total by customer type, and change the report title to something more appropriate. If appropriate, this report can also be sorted by name to have the customers in alphabetical order within each type. Once the changes have been made, be sure to memorize the report for future use.

3. Customize the transaction detail report to filter just for the appropriate advertising and marketing related expenses and change the report title as appropriate. Depending on how the chart of accounts has been set up, subtotals by the accounts may be sufficient or subtotals by the name may be better. In some instances, the memo field can be used on bills and checks then use for the subtotals. Once the report has been customized, don’t forget to memorize it for future use.

4. Compare the results (the sales report in step 2) with the monetary resources used to obtain the customer (the expense report in step 3).

By using this method the results are quite clear in an objective, measurable way. The decisions made in the future as to where to spend valuable resources can now be based on the effectiveness of each type of marketing activity. As the historical information in QuickBooks continues to grow, trends can be analyzed for future planning purposes (i.e. what are the variables that effect the results such as time of year, special events, etc).

As a resource for this and other questions, submit a question via “Ask the Expert” or attend our free, monthly discussion forum tele-class.

Bonnie J. Nagayama, CPA (925-247-0100) has been featured by Intuit in their QuickBooks Advisor Spotlight and frequently teaches and consults on using QuickBooks to its maximum advantage. For a FREE weekly newsletter of QuickBooks tips and tricks, plus many free and low cost QuickBooks resources visit
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For further information, visit the following articles:
Ask the Expert – Petty Cash Fund versus Expense Reimbursement (Free!)
QuickBooks Tips & Tricks – Budget versus Forecast (Free!)
Plans and Budgets (Subscription required)
Ask the Expert – Tracking Advertising Spent Versus Results (Subscription required)
Creative Ways to Increase Business (Subscription required)