Make Your Advertising Budget Work, Even If It’s Small

Spoiler: There is a really good digital marketing strategy tip at the bottom of the article, it involves $5 and your advertising budget. The rest of the article is pretty good too, so I wouldn’t advise skipping it, but if you’re in a hurry, I understand.

First, a story:

Eight years ago, I was working for Global Team Blue, which was Team Detroit at that time. I had transitioned from the Digital Team to the International Team working on the Ford Motor Company business. Primarily, I managed all aspects of vehicle launch campaigns in international marketing. We would leverage US assets for various countries outside of the US, and recreate them to ensure ethnic and cultural relevance for international markets. At the time I was managing a $20 million budget that covered territories in the Middle East, South Africa and Southeast Asia. Think about that, Ford invested $20 million dollars in advertising in areas of the world where many people did not even have cars. Crazy, right?.. Primarily, we focused on TV advertising, which was customary at the time, we also did a lot of print.

It was during this time, in my career, that I was introduced to pay-per-click advertising. Prior to that I had worked on several website development projects and was familiar with online display ads, but this was back when advertisers would go directly to publishers to purchase inventory on their sites, before the days of the display networks and DSPs (demand-side platforms) of today. There was a guy, who was basically a department of one (and honestly I can’t even remember his name), he sat in a corner by himself looking at metatags and keywords and working on digital marketing strategy for most of the day. I remember asking him exactly what is was that he did and he explained to me about metatags and bidding on keywords and showing up in search engines and I was like… umm… ok, what does that even mean (he’s probably a gazillionaire by now, because clearly he was light years ahead of me in the digital marketing game)? Who knew, eight years later I would be obsessed and so would every company in the world..

So, clearly, most small businesses don’t have $20 million advertising budgets. But therein lies the beauty of digital marketing, it allows small budgets to play in the same space as big budgets -- you don’t need $20 million budgets. Don’t get me wrong, you DO NEED A BUDGET. I know there are many social mediapreneurs that would have you to believe that you can make tons of money by paying them to teach you how to use social media, but the truth is, if you reimagine a Fortune 500 strategy on a Fortune 500,000 budget you can quickly establish yourself as a key player in your industry. Here’s my advice for leveraging big business strategic thinking on a small business advertising budget.

Measure Everything

Let me start by saying, if you are advertising in any way (even passively, by just having a website), you should be measuring the results of that advertising. How do you think large corporations make marketing decisions? Let me tell you… they utilize data analysts and strategist to glean insights from everything they do in order to find that one trigger that can open the sales floodgates. Data is the fuel for your hypothetical advertising fire. I guarantee that if you’re not measuring the results of your ad campaigns, you are wasting money or time (which, to me is the most valuable of the two). The job of advertising is to create opportunities for sales. How will you know if what you’re doing is actually driving sales, if you’re not measuring the results? Remember, what get’s measured, gets done.

Pro-Tip: Measure the right stuff. Sure, you may have google analytics, but are you measuring the attributes that are directly related to sales or lower funnel activity? Do you have Facebook tracking pixels properly set up? I’ll be posting more on this topic in the upcoming weeks, stay tuned.

Use The Data

OK, so I just went on and on about measuring your methods, but really, what’s the point if you’re not going to use the information. It’s one thing to set up your Google Analytics and it’s cute to check Facebook Ads Manager from time to time, but the purpose of these tools is to allow advertisers to analyze consumer behavior and to act on the data in a way that will increase profitability. Your data is a gold mine, I cannot overstate this. Seriously, I have pitched and sold campaigns/digital platforms to corporations that spend billions of dollars on advertising each year based on this premise. The company that masters its data charts its path to success.

Pro-Tip: Once your analytics are properly set up and tracking the correct metrics, you should be continuously testing new ideas. Through testing, your data will tell you everything you need to know about your customers. Use these insights to understand messaging that resonates the most, what advertising channels work the best and where you will get the most bang for your buck. Then optimize the hell out of all aspects.

Choose Your Main Advertising Medium and DOMINATE

Once you’ve determined which medium performs best for your company, invest 80% of you budget in that medium. The goal is total domination (not to sound all Transformer-ish, but we are talking about transformation). Your target audience should be exposed to your advertising 4-7 times during your campaign. Ideally, you would use a mix of several mediums to accomplish this, however on a small budget, it’s more feasible to choose one medium and saturate it to get an optimal return on your investment.

Use 10% of your remaining budget to retarget prospects that engage with your content via online display or social media display (whichever your data points you to) and 10% to test new concepts, media, etc.

Pro-Tip: Display advertising is the BEST way to test advertising concepts on a budget. It is really cheap, and you will know right away if your messaging resonates with your target consumers in the form of online traffic or lack thereof.


Use Other Mediums to Supplement Your Main Medium

If you have an advertising budget of at least $10,000, use 20% to supplement your main advertising medium. An integrated marketing approach is almost always better than a single medium if you have the budget. Despite what the interwebs would have you to believe traditional methods still work, if you implement the right strategy. My go to traditional medium is direct mail, because it’s one-to-one and it’s heavily reliant on data. In many of the campaigns that I currently run there is almost always a lift when Direct Mail is included in the mix.


Start Generating Brand Awareness with $5/day

You would be surprised at the number of impressions and engagement you can get with just $5 per day on the internet. So forgo the Starbucks lattes for a month or so and do the following to start building brand awareness and generating an audience for your brand:

Spend $4/day on targeted Facebook ads

Spend $1/day on Google Display Network - test two creative treatments

Don’t worry, when the money starts rolling in, there will be plenty of lattes to go around.

If you enjoyed what you read, or gleaned some insight/value, please share.

#metrics #budgets

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© 2017 by Tiana Starks.

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