Advertising is an important part of the lead generation puzzle. Some marketers suggest that you can do without the cost and low returns they attribute to advertising, but done right, advertising is a tremendous tool.
I advocate an approach that calls for a mix of lead generation tactics that includes advertising, public relations and a systematic approach to referral generation.
The biggest thing that advertising has going for it over most other forms of lead generation is control. You can control who sees your ad to some degree and you can control when your ad is run or sent. (I’m including direct mail in this statement)
So, if you have a new product launch or sales promotion planned, you may have lots of activities planned but your advertising is the one element that ties your launch to a date.
The key to effective use of advertising lies in how you think about it, what your objectives are and how you adjust your approach in real time.
Below are five elements that you should consider to make any form of advertising more effective.
1. Lower your expectations
I don’t mean you simply need to expect less in general, but you should probably be realistic about what an ad can do. If you are running a small online ad it might be unrealistic to believe you can sell a multi-thousand dollar consulting engagement from 15 words and a link.
The objective of your ads should be to move people from awareness to like and trust by having a small call to action that benefits them such as downloading a checklist or audio. The goal of most advertising should be to capture an email and start a relationship, not sell a product or service.
2. Cast narrowly
Most advertising, online and offline can be targeted at a narrowly defined viewer and this is a must. A radio station that tells you that 75% of its listeners are 18-55 isn’t narrow enough.
If you sell dog collars, select dog owners on Facebook. Group your Google AdWords in very tightly crafted keyword groups to target people looking for very specific things. Find geo targeted mailing lists and then cross them with lists of people that buy a similar product.
3. Promote content
The way to drive the greatest advertising response is to give away something people want. Use your ads to promote free eBooks, how to checklists and events that will help them learn what they want to learn.
Make content your call to action, deliver awesome stuff, capture leads and gently move them on to even more awesome stuff as you introduce everything they need to know about why your products and services cost more than the rest of the market.
4. Measure everything
The most successful marketers I know can tell you exactly how every element of their marketing is performing and why. It takes a great deal of work to get serious about things analytics and tracking, but you won’t really succeed until you do. You’ll either waste a great deal of money and fail or you’ll waste a great deal of money and limit your success (possibly a worse fate.)
By taking the time to create a process that allows you to measure every aspect of your advertising you stop losses, make good better and perfect the best all the while staying tuned in to what your market wants more of.
5. Test everything
This last element goes hand in hand with measurement, but takes it a step further. Once you have a baseline you can start to work on improving your results by simply tweaking things like headlines, calls to offer, visual elements, keywords, content, publications and lists.
Once you know what’s working in one place you can expand to test it in other places. I often recommend using inexpensive Google AdWords campaigns to test out headlines and landing pages before broadcasting more widely.
The online advertising space, particularly in social networks, is changing so rapidly that I believe you also should test out every new social network ad unit as they come online to get a feel for what works and what doesn’t in this evolving space.
As you can see, advertising is for more complex if done well than renting some space and putting up a pretty face.
If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to Advertising.