Things to Consider When Paying for Advertising

Lexie Danford
Written by: Lexie Danford Brand Strategist & Account Executive

You’ve been working hard to get your business in good shape. You have a solid team, a great product or service offering, AND made room in your operating budget to do some advertising. But now, with those hard earned dollars at stake, you are overwhelmed by where, how, and when to spend them, unsure what the best “bang for your buck” will be.

Here are a few things to consider as you seek to spend wisely!

Who am I trying to reach?

If you don’t already know who your audience is, stop right here and regroup. If you don’t know who you are trying to reach, any ad spend you commit is a shot in the dark.

You will want to think through not only “who is my current audience?” but also, “who might be a good fit to become part of my audience?” Or “what additional audiences can I reach?” and “what kinds of audiences do I want to grow in?” Some of those questions can only be answered by you, the business owner - since you are the expert on your business! But if you need help figuring out some of that information, there are a few useful metrics to examine.

We’d recommend you start with a thoughtful examination of your Google Analytics. (If you don’t have Google Analytics set up for your website, go ahead and move that to the top of your to-do list. If you need help understanding your Google Analytics, let us know!). A powerful tool, Google Analytics can help you see where your website visitors are coming from, what social media pages, browsers, and devices they are using and even some demographics information about them. This helps you see who interacts with your business online in a quick and easy way. Another great resource for this can also be within Facebook ad manager (again, we can help you with this if you need it). This can show you demographics info for not only your page, but also on any ads that you run, helping you narrow down your audiences.

Beyond the metrics, there are also some key heart questions or values to consider. For example, if you are a non-profit that helps serve in a specific way, you actually have a few audiences - those you serve, those who partner with you through volunteering or allied organizations, and those who donate. Thinking through who those audiences are is an important first step in thinking through where to spend your hard earned dollars.

What matters to my audience?

This is another key question to ask yourself before you decide where to spend your budget, Because what matters to us as individuals shapes where we spend our time, our attention, and money as well. Knowing what matters to your audience helps you understand where they might be, what messages might connect with them, and how you can make your presence known in those spaces.

For example, if you are a school, and your target audience is parents or other essential adults raising kids, the things that matter to them are probably having happy, healthy children, eating out, and creating lasting memories. But if you are a high end luxury brand, your audience probably cares more about finer experiences, what is going on in society, and their image. And if you are a brand that provides pet care, you might have both parents and those who love lux experiences in your same audience - united by the love of their pets. So knowing who the audience is, and what they care about, can help you start to think through where you should advertise.

What do I want them to do?

This step may seem obvious, but it is important not to overlook it because there is more than one answer! For a business that sells a product directly to consumers, the answer can be more easy - buy the product. But for many businesses, the desired impact is more nuanced than that. It might be “call for more information” or “visit my website” or “schedule a meeting”, all of which are legitimate goals. But the goal could also be “view my organization as trustworthy” or “keep my business top of mind”, “recommend my business to others” or “understand more what my business does, since it may be more than what they initially thought.”

Knowing what you want the audience to do with the advertising they see is about way more than just clicking, or calling, or reading. Having a clear picture of what you want the audience to achieve as a result of seeing your ad is key for knowing if your advertising is making an impact.

Where are they already?

As the saying goes, there is no reason to “reinvent the wheel” - your audience is already connecting somewhere. If you want to connect with them, it is important to be there. Is your audience fashion-conscious young women? Instagram, and advertising with influencers and local fashion related events might be your best bet. What about busy parents? Children-related events, publications, or even partnering with their school is a great opportunity. C-suite decision makers on the other hand probably spend more time reading news, and on LinkedIn than Instagram. Having a robust, thought leadership position (potentially with some paid advertising in the news publications or on LinkedIn ) may be a better fit for your spend.

Am I interrupting, or am I solving a problem?

We all know the annoyance of endless pop up ads or junk emails, where bits of information we weren’t looking for demand our attention. When you try to reach your audience by interrupting them, you set the stage for immediate annoyance - not a feeling you want people to associate with your brand! Consider instead how your advertising strategies and even the language of your ads themselves can instead contribute to the lives of your audience. How is your brand solving a problem? How are you providing support, clarity, or affirmation to the things that matter to your audience? How are you addressing their “pain points” in day to day life? These are important things to consider when setting up an ad budget and creating an ad. Rather than focusing on a game of loudness, instead focus on pumping up the usefulness of what you are providing with your advertisement.

Being useful also means being clear. If you are promoting an event, and your ad got me as a viewer excited about it, but I cannot find the essential information I need easily, I am now annoyed and disappointed, and your ad is not very useful to me.

How am I tracking success?

If you are investing money, you of course want to see some return on that investment. In some forms of advertising, this is straightforward. For example, with digital ads, we can track click through rate (CTR). But, if we are only tracking click through rate, or impressions (the number of people who saw it), then we aren’t necessarily getting a full picture of the spend’s impact..

We also want to connect that data to real outcomes, knowing that it does usually take a minimum of seven (7!) interactions with your brand before people begin to recognize and remember it. So, it is important to trace how spending on advertising has impacted your sales or other goals over time, not just after the one placement or campaign.

As you are spending, are you seeing growth across the board? Are people mentioning that they saw your ad? Are you asking them what brought them to your business or how they found out about you? Seeing value in your advertising has to bear in mind that there is an element of building brand awareness and a sales funnel that each interaction contributes to. So we don’t want to track just individual pieces of advertising, but also the sum of their efforts, and what impact they are making on the outcomes.

How often am I re-evaluating?

It is important to not just “set it and forget it”. If your audience is not connecting with your advertising efforts, try something new! If there is a different publication that has a lower audience count, but is also lower priced, and a higher percentage of their audience is your audience, make the switch away from the big name, expensive option and instead own your niche! Track how your digital marketing efforts are impacting your traffic and goal completions. See how many people are noticing you “out in the world” with your advertisements and mentioning them to you.

We generally recommend letting efforts take their course for at least three months, then analyzing what is working, what is not, and reevaluating your options for what is next. By that measurement, you should be evaluating and revising your advertising strategies at least quarterly to make sure your advertising is making an impact.

Overwhelmed and don’t know where to start? We’re here to help! Contact us, and let’s find ways to better connect you with your audience.