Get Started with Online Ads: Guide 1 - Creating a Strategy

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Kelly McGrain
Kelly McGrain

Advertising can be expensive. And there are no guarantees. As a small business owner, not only does that alone make it a tiring exercise, but deciding where, what, and how to distribute your marketing dollars can be overwhelming. With so many options available, we wanted to give you a series of short guides on how to get started to maximize a successful outcome.

While it’s usually pretty easy for you to know the goal of advertising is to get more business, it’s actually very helpful to sit down and write that out, along with a short list of other element that will help you determine where it’s best to put your precious marketing dollars. Start out with answering these 5-questions:

  1. Who are you targeting? If your answer to this question is anyone, you may want to put a little more elbow grease into this one. Consider factors such as age, gender, location, interests, and behavior. This will help you determine which platforms your audience is most likely to be active on, and where you can reach them most effectively.
  2. Consider your budget: Different advertising platforms have different costs associated with them, so it's important to consider your budget when deciding where to advertise. For example, social media advertising can be relatively inexpensive, while traditional media such as TV and radio is usually more costly.
  3. Evaluate your goals: What do you hope to achieve with your advertising? Are you looking to increase brand awareness, generate leads, drive sales? Different advertising platforms can be more effective for different goals, so it's important to align your goals with the platform that can best help you achieve them.
  4. Research the competition: Look at what your competitors are doing and where they are advertising. This can help you determine which platforms are most effective in your industry, and can give you ideas for your own advertising strategy.
  5. Test and measure: You may not get it right the first time around. Don't be afraid to experiment with different advertising platforms and strategies. Test different messaging, ads, and targeting options to see what resonates most with your audience. And be sure to measure your results! If you don’t know what’s driving new customer growth, it’s very likely you’re wasting dollars somewhere.

Though you may already have all of the details in your head, fleshing them out "on paper" will help you spot holes, get new ideas, and even collaborate with others to improve your strategy and execution.

Below is an outline of the guides we'll be publishing over the next few weeks. The next series of guides will build off of this initial work, so it's important to really put some thought into this step!

Outline of the series:

Guide 1: Create a strategy (this one!)

Guide 2: Where to run your ads given your target & goals

Guide 3: How to build out an ad budget & what to evaluate as you run your ads

Guide 4: Tools to help you build professional ads without a designer

Guide 5: How to track and test online ads

Guide 6: When to keep spending, when to stop

To make sure you see all the upcoming guides, remember to sign up for our blog!

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