5 Ways to Make Your Advertising Extraordinarily Effective

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.


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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.

The Changing Face of Lead Generation

I’ve spent a great deal of time over the last few years professing the virtues of what I’ve been calling the lead generation trio made up of some combination or advertising, public relations and referrals.

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The idea behind the trio concept is to acknowledge the need to spread your lead generation activities out and diversify them in a manner that allows prospects to experience your brand in different variations and from entirely different points of view.

The components of the lead generation trio are dependent upon one another to work. They support and compliment each other and the sum the effort is definitely greater than the parts.

Lead generation in general has changed dramatically over the last few years as traditional broadcast or outbound methods have grown increasingly ineffective.

This doesn’t mean, however, that marketers are left without proactive methods for generating leads.

The fundamental idea of the blended lead generation approach is still valid, but when choosing members of a lead generation trio, business owners must now take into the account the shifting online and social landscape.

While I still contend that advertising is a primary lead driver when employed correctly, I further believe that SEO, or the ability to be found, and social media, or the ability to create direct engagement, have become primary lead drivers and must be included in any discussion concerned with rounding out the new lead generation trio.

In fact, you could easily make the case that referrals have become a member of the social media family and that public relations is now a subset of SEO. I know this point of view won’t sit well with some PR practitioners, but here’s how I now see the major lead generation activities

Advertising – this includes online ads, offline ads, direct mail, pay per click and the all-important elements of ad testing, conversion and tracking.

I believe every business that focuses on promoting content using advertising tools and incorporates landing pages, including mobile landing pages, into their conversion process can still generate leads in a quasi outbound manner.

The thing that advertising has going for it that no other form of lead generation can match is control. This is the one vehicle that allows you to select who gets your message and when.

SEO – The area of SEO is really much bigger than page and search optimization. I use this term to incorporate the production and use of keyword rich content and the acquisition of links in ways that make it easy for prospects to find your business when they search globally, locally and mobily (I know that’s not a word, but perhaps it should be these days.)

Using this broader description of SEO makes it easy to incorporate a great deal of today’s public relations activity, a great deal of which is designed to create content, links and direct prospect contact under the banner of SEO.

Social media – I’ve been saying this for some time now, but social media behavior and tactics have simply become baked into marketing in general, and of late I’ve seen this behavior mature to the point where it’s become a stable aspect of the lead generation trio.

I know many people still cringe at the idea of social and sales being mentioned in the same sentence, but social platforms have now become such an integral part of content discovery and sharing that it is nearly impossible to effectively generate leads via any form of advertising without the integration of social and most forms of successful SEO now rely on social platforms as well.

In a way social media has become the ultimate referral vehicle. Throw ratings and reviews into the social mix and you’ve pretty much round out the new face of lead generation.

So, if you still view SEO as the art of search engine manipulation or social media as a tactic still struggling to produce ROI, think again. Advertising, SEO and social media are now the foundational elements of a solid lead generation program and like so many things that are meant to go together – you can’t have one without the others.

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