You don’t need an ad campaign, you need strategy!

I am the founder and chief consultant for a marketing company called Siren Media based in Oklahoma City. Often the kind of client I help is a business or nonprofit who is either just starting out or has plateaued in their marketing efforts. In many situations, they’ve started their marketing in a way that becomes unsustainable very quickly. I believe in a 3-step process of digital marketing that guides my clients through the marketing process and untangles the mess they’ve found themselves in.

In my world, it’s all too common to be contacted by a business owner looking to “advertise.” They’ve reached me at a time when their phones are not ringing, and they’re worried about the bottom line: Money in the bank and getting customers in the door. When a client or prospective client contacts me for advertising service, I now pause the conversation and analyze what brought them to this point.

From that point, I talk through the 3 steps of good marketing:

Step 1 – Branding

The first thing we talk about is your branding. Some of the questions we discuss include:

  • What is your brand?
  • How is it communicating what you do?
  • Is that successful?
  • Are you getting a good return on what your brand looks like?
  • Is your brand telling the right story?

If you get your branding wrong or skip it entirely, you end up getting the wrong kind of customers and you don’t get the kind of return you really want on your marketing dollars. We start here, and if the brand is good, or provided (like a franchise), we move to step 2.

Step 2 – Digital footprint

Second, we talk about your digital presence. Now, the term “digital” is a very large umbrella. In this context, we concentrate on two things:

  1. Websites
  2. Social media

We look at how easily you’re found on Google and other search engines and how accurate that information is. It’s not uncommon that I work with someone who has NO website or social media, or their platforms are set up incorrectly. The implication becomes losing customers who are looking for you, or a service like yours, to solve their problem. We have to strengthen and optimize this piece so that WHEN the client advertises, they’re not losing those leads they’ve paid so much money to generate. This step is designed to seal the hole in their sales funnel, so to speak.

For social media, we analyze what the client is telling the world about the business and whether or not that story resonates with—and brings in—the right people. Does your business need to consistently generate leads? Does it simply need to be present to legitimize the business? There’s a lot to unpack here, and SO much that you can do to bolster your marketing efforts without having to throw money at social platforms. Though, if your organization has an aggressive goal of some kind, we are willing to run a paid campaign to be sure the business isn’t disrupted.

Once web presence and social media are being utilized to their best potential, we can then start talking about step 3.

Step 3 – Advertising

The third thing—and this is what a lot of frustrated business owners come to me wanting to start with— advertising. Guess what? When you work with me you won’t spend any money on advertising until we iron out steps one and two. There are anomalies and exceptions to this, but this is the process we try to stick to. Google Ads, TV, radio, print, billboards, whatever you’re being pressured into buying—doing it at the wrong time, without the RIGHT systems in place can cost you more than just the invoice they’ll send you. It’ll cost you lost leads.

You are likely familiar with the concept of a sales funnel. Your advertising dollars are designed—hopefully—to bring in potential customers. That may be your phone ringing, it may be visits to your website. It’s whatever method of communication that will help them convert to a client.

If steps one and two are not done properly, there’s essentially a hole in your sales funnel!

Another thing to consider is that advertising doesn’t make sense for everyone. Particularly in certain industries, advertising can be cost-prohibitive. If you are in a highly competitive industry (insurance, attorneys, plumbing, home building, real estate, electrical, etc.) In the digital world a pay-per-click campaign on Google becomes outrageously expensive.

Rather than spending your money on advertising, it’s a much better investment to deploy a digital strategy that offers you transparency and results you can track. That’s the beauty about these platforms: You can see how they’re working for you through feedback from customers, and all of the reporting metrics available to you. Ultimately what every business owner wants is to get the right kind of customers and to yield a return on marketing investments. To make that happen, you have to start your marketing in a sustainable way.

This framework has helped guide our 21 digital marketing clients, and I hope it will help other frustrated business owners out there.

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