Originally posted on LinkedIn:
By Mort Greenberg / Military Times Ad Sales
Several times a month I am asked by military veterans, “How can I most efficiently grow my audience and revenue through advertising?" Below is an article that summarizes what is covered in these conversations and may be of help if you have recently transitioned out of the military and starting are your first business or have been at this for a while and looking to improve upon your plan that is already in place.
As a military veteran and an entrepreneur, you want to quickly and efficiently grow your business. You expect a lot from yourself, and you deliver. Your friends and family are very supportive, and they give you all they can. However, finding the right marketing partners to trust with your budget can be difficult.
Before you commit to spending any budget on marketing make sure you have basics in place. These basics will then help you to most efficiently generate return on your media investment when you do begin to spend money on marketing.
In any marketing effort it is critical to continually test media outlets to find one or a few that work best for your product or service. Continually calibrate your marketing mix as you discover best practices from other companies.
Before You Buy Media, Set Your Foundation
Know Your Audience – Understand your segment of the market and know exactly what you are selling, and to whom. Make certain to study the messaging of your competitors so your ads can be better, distinct and more effective. Typically, less is more, so focus on simple, as in so simple if you explained your message to your grandmother she would fully understand. By finding the most relevant places your audience visits you can create the right media plan to reach those people.
Write A Marketing Plan – Find a blank marketing plan online that you can use or just jot down your marketing objectives by month. Make certain to consider the 4Ps of Marketing: Product, Price, Promotion, and Placement. Also consider seasonality and key events that map to your business. In fact, here is a Google search result for “Media Plan Template”.
Have A Well Informed Website – Build and continually update your site. Make sure you install free Google Analytics to track and understand who is coming to your site and from where. Make sure you are constantly adding content and testimonials to your site to gain the best possible Search Engine and Social Media optimization.
- Build a Content Marketing and Distribution Plan – Make sure that you are writing blog posts regularly. Make sure that you get friends and customers to engage with your content by sending out emails with links for them to post on social media. You can use free tools like MailChimp to deliver the emails and build up your list. Further, you can send out surveys to your audience to learn what they like and do not like about your products or services with tools like SurveyMonkey.
Impression Based Digital Media
Most digital media on sites like MilitaryTimes.com for example is sold on a cost per thousand impressions viewed basis, known as CPM. For every 1,000 views of an ad you will pay $10+ / -. So spending $1,000 you would receive 100,000 ad views.
Many name brand digital publishers sell on a CPM (Cost Per Thousand) basis, and not on a performance model (CPC – Cost Per Click or CPL – Cost Per Lead) basis. That means there is no guarantee of direct traffic to you from these properties.
That being said, people will certainly see your ad, and those interested at that moment will click the ad. Click rates across all type of publishers are typically 1/10 of 1% of all impressions served. Do the best to avoid waste and ask about targeting options (ie Geographic, section specific, etc..) or just pay a lower rate for run of site advertising.
A site that is a good match for your business with have an audience that will engage more frequently with your ads and click 2x to 3x higher than the average site out there. This is due to the contextual nature of that content, and high engagement of that user base.
Performance Based Digital Media
Facebook & Instagram Ads – Facebook Ads Work in a way that is based on cost per actions: clicks, leads, etc… When signing up they ask for Objective, Audience, Platform, Budget and Format. You have to trust that they will put your ad in front of the right person, but if you have not yet tried Facebook advertising, this should be your first step. Here is their page to get started. You should also try Instagram, owned by Facebook.
Twitter Ads – Similar to Facebook these ads are performance based with similar targeting parameters.
Google Adwords - With AdWords you will buy keywords that can then be further targeted with great specificity. You only pay when a person clicks on your ads.
- Outbrain and Taboola - are content discovery platforms. Essentially, you write to your blog and then you can promote this content to drive traffic back to your site. The content that runs on Outbrain and Taboola are typically articles that other people want to promote and appear at the bottom of other articles as recommended content. You may have seen these links on all types of sites big and small.
NOTE: Performance marketing with the above sites means you only pay on clicks you receive. However there are potential issues. Both real people and bots are clicking on your ads. There is waste that can happen on any performance marketing property, but you can work to avoid much of this. However, about 20% of the clicks you end up paying for may not come from actual people…
The best way to make sure real people are clicking on your ads is to track from click to purchase using tools like Google Analytics. When sales happen and your cash register is ringing then performance marketing is working. By monitoring each of these platforms daily and making changes to optimize and improve your targeting you will find ways to stay ahead of any problem.
After learning with performance marketing it makes sense to begin exploring impression based / CPM media that you will find on most high quality vertical publishers. Leveraging the best in class contextual media properties puts your message in front of the right audience. By working to get your ad copy right you will be able to further maximize your ad spend.
Building The Right Ads for Impression or Performance Based Media
Make it easy to see the offer and call to action in the each ad:
Eye-catching ads attract more attention as do ads that respect the reader's time. Keep your ads clean, simple and easy to understand. Get a third party to give you feedback or work with a designer that has built ads before.
Animation, brand colors, and clear text help banner ads stand out. Again, a well crafted easy to read message will help your ad break through all the time.
- Create a library of ad creative: Build at least 2-3 ad units for each ad type / size you are going to run. Then at the one week mark after you launch each campaign optimize by removing the units with the lowest click rates, keeping live the best performing ones.
The above are only a few items to help you maximize your marketing efforts. Also, think about how to best leverage: press releases, CRM to track all customer data, marketing automation to go beyond MailChimp when you are ready, re-targeting ads directly with publishers you work with or through companies like AdRoll and Criteo, not over posting on social media, hosting events, leading round tables, reaching out to reporters, attending key events for your industry, partnering with a charity, and building email databases to continually engage with your customers from your CRM and marketing automation tools.
Chances are you are already doing much of this, now it is all about getting the information into your marketing plan and creating your own best practices to share with others.
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