Here's how advertising worked in the old days:
When you opened up, say, a new pizzeria, you called the main city paper and the weekly alternative paper and took out quarter-page ads announcing that your establishment was open for business.
Then you called up the Yellow Pages and took out a half-page ad in the next edition and the local radio stations to get spots running during drive time.
Finally, if you still had some budget left, you worked with the Post Office on an Every Door Direct Mail campaign to circulate your menu and some coupons.
What next? You would sit and wait for the customers!
Here's how advertising works today.
When you open up, say, a Vietnamese fusion food cart, you first set up Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Plus, LinkedIn, and especially Yelp accounts.
Then you start sharing content—pictures of your food and copies of your menu—and inviting friends to like the pages.
Then you spend an afternoon figuring out how to launch localized advertisements through Facebook and Google AdWords.
Then, if you still have budget left, you take out a mid-roll ad on a local foodie's podcast.
What next? You start analyzing the results! Which ad copy is getting the most clicks? What time of day are grilled pork sandwich Instagram pics getting the most engagement? And what are customers saying about your crispy egg rolls on Yelp?
The new era of digital marketing
As these examples illustrate, digital advertising is a much more reactive than traditional advertising—which was and mostly is a passive form of engagement. Yes, there were and are ways for marketers to identify over-and-underperforming radio or television spots and mass mailings. But by and large, the average business owner would have no idea whether a full-page ad in Big City Weekly was actually producing results. With digital advertising, however, you'll know every time somebody clicks on an ad or likes a page.
None of this is to say that traditional advertising doesn't still have a role to play in rolling out your business and sustaining interest in your brand. But it's ultimately a supporting role. Digital advertising long ago supplanted traditional advertising for most businesses. Your audience spends their day in front of screens, and that's where your messaging should be.
To be successful in digital advertising, you need to be both proactive and reactive in your advertising approach.
Proactive advertising means you research your market, identify your customers, and create a marketing / advertising strategy before you start running your advertisements on Facebook and Google. Here's how it works:
Know your market. To effectively run a business—let alone execute an advertising campaign—you need to have a deep understanding of your industry, your competitors, and your customers. To continue with the food cart example, you'd want to know how many other carts and Vietnamese restaurants were operating in your vicinity and analyze their social media activity and online advertising. You would also want to understand who your likely customers are going to be—maybe blue collar workers getting lunch to go or local university students looking for late night snacks—and figure out which platforms are going to be most effective at reaching them.
Create buyer personas. Buyer personas are representations of your ideal customer based on market research. Maybe you know you need to reach Cynthia, the 42-year-old office worker who hits up food carts in the afternoon, or Hamilton, the 25-year-old graduate student who gets dinner to go in the evening. Personas help you internalize the ideal customer you're trying to attract.
Create a goal-driven advertising strategy. With your market research complete and buyer personas in hand, you should be able to create a realistic advertising strategy that reflects how real customers within your target demographics engage with online content, find your product, and make purchasing decisions.
Reactive advertising means you adjust your advertising content based on engagement data and current events. Here's how it works:
Learn and adjust. One of the best things about digital advertising is that you can change your advertising content is real time—you don't have to wait until tomorrow's newspaper. Facebook and Google will both give you lots of data about how your ads are performing. You can easily adjust your image, copy, and targeted audience to improve results.
Engage. Social media provides you with unprecedented access to your customers. Take advantage of the opportunity and talk with them! Reply to Twitter messages and comments on your Facebook page—even if they're negative. And try to share and create content on your social channels that sparks conversations.
React. Something relevant to your business pop up in the news? Tweet about it! As noted above, digital advertising happens in real time, which opens up all sorts of opportunities to produce social and ad copy based on the watercooler conversation topics of the day.
Digital advertising sounds great! How do I get started?
Facebook, Google AdWords, and LinkedIn are the three most important platforms for most businesses. Which one is right for you? And how should you optimize your campaigns? Our 4 ½ Minute Guide to Digital Advertising provides some answers. We walk you through the terminology and detail for best practices for creating ad content.
Join for free today to access the guide and get started on your newest campaign.