What’s the right approach to online marketing for your business?

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Jacob Baadsgaard

When it comes to online marketing, there’s a lot of advice out there. I can’t criticize, I’m responsible for a good deal of it myself.

But, everywhere you look, it seems like there’s another person sharing their latest marketing innovation, best practice or hack. It’s almost impossible to keep them all straight, let alone decide which ones are relevant to your business.

So what do you do? How do you sort through all of the clutter and pick a marketing approach that will work for you and your company?

To be honest, the secret to effectively marketing your business isn’t the latest best practice or marketing hack. Those might be tools in your marketing tool chest, but they won’t do you much good if your fundamental approach to marketing isn’t solid. In fact, if they distract you from focusing on the most important things for your business, they can actually do more harm than good.

With all that in mind, let’s take a look at why you should take most marketing advice with a grain of salt and a few reliable marketing approaches you can use to get consistent results.

The problem with most marketing advice

When it comes to marketing advice, there’s one thing you have to keep in mind: almost all marketing advice comes from marketers. And marketers are constantly trying to sell something.

Even when they’re not directly trying to sell you on a product or service (or their breakthrough, ultra-secret methodology that will make you an overnight millionaire), marketers can’t help but market. It’s instinctive for them. If they want you to believe in their breakthrough or hack, they’ll do their level best to make it seem awesome.

There’s nothing wrong with that…as long as you remember one thing: your results may vary.

No two businesses are the same. Even direct competitors can struggle to effectively replicate each others’ marketing secret sauce. There’s nothing wrong with that, but this point often tends to get lost once marketers start talking about how great their latest idea is.

So, the next time you’re reading about the latest and greatest in the marketing world (including this article), remember, just because something worked for someone else, that doesn’t mean it will work for you. There’s a lot other people can teach you, but ultimately, what’s right for your business will be specific to your business.

How will you approach marketing?

In light of all that, you might be wondering, How do I know what marketing strategies will work for my business?

That’s a great question.

While there are countless different tricks, tactics and hacks you can use to promote your business online, most of them fall into three basic categories. In my experience, as long as your marketing is effective in at least one of these areas, you’ll be successful. So, it pays to understand each of these marketing approaches and which one(s) you want to use for your business.

Ideally, you want to be strong in each of the following areas, but that can often be overwhelming, so start by trying to identify which sort of strategy best fits your company’s personality, needs, and brand.

1. Create something compelling

Although we all love fun, engaging and compelling content, let’s be honest, most marketing is boring. For every truly brilliant ad or article, there are a million utterly forgettable ones.

But here’s the thing. People want to see something fun, funny, entertaining, novel or just plain compelling. They don’t actually hate marketing – they just hate boring marketing. So, if your company can be clever, thought-provoking, soulful or hilarious, people will naturally be interested in your marketing. 

Engaging content stands out from the crowd. It gives people something interesting to look at, think about and share with others – even if that content isn’t all that unique or different to begin with. 

Take the following image from “The Art of Manliness,” for example.

Is there anything novel or new about the idea of giving a good firm handshake (among men and women)? Not really. In fact, this idea has been around for decades, if not hundreds of years.

But…put this content into a fun infographic like this and suddenly, it’s new, fresh and engaging.

If you’re smart about it, you don’t have to say anything new to be an effective marketer. You just have to say things in a new and engaging way. If online influencers and YouTubers can win thousands-to-millions of people over with this simple strategy, it should come as no surprise that creating engaging marketing content is a surefire way to win over your target market.

Don’t believe me? How about a concrete marketing example?

This pooping unicorn put Squatty Potty on the map. By approaching the subject of pooping in an engaging way, this ad made the Squatty Potty a cultural phenomenon.

Obviously, you shouldn’t expect Squatty Potty success from your own marketing, but the point remains that engaging marketing works. There are countless examples of business that made their mark by creating content that their customers love.

The downside to this approach, of course, is that putting together compelling content takes a lot of creativity and work – which is a big part of why most marketing content isn’t all that compelling. If you or your business isn’t creative or willing to put in the time and energy to create engaging content, this approach might not be for you.

But, if you love the idea of creating compelling, stand-out content, this sort of approach can do wonders for your business. Marketing like this makes people remember your business and want to follow you for more great content. It isn’t easy, but it can certainly produce great results.

2. Strike first

Sometimes the easiest way to win against your competitors is to beat your competition…to the competition. It’s not hard to get clicks when your business is the only option people see.

And, when it comes to online marketing, there’s always something new to try.

Social media platforms, ad formats, campaign strategies, those hacks and breakthroughs we mentioned earlier—they all fall into this category. Anytime a new option comes around, if you can be the first one to figure out how to make it work, you win. How much you’ll win may vary, but you’ll almost always have a market advantage until your competition catches on.

The problem is, though, striking first is probably the most popular approach in this article. As marketers, we love shiny new toys, so most businesses eagerly look for the next big thing that will allow them to achieve maximum success with minimum effort.

As a result, the long-term effectiveness of this strategy tends to wane with time. The more people who start using the platform, tactic or ad format, the more competition you have and the less exciting your results become.

Take Facebook Ads, for example. 

Not too long ago, you could get clicks for pennies and there weren’t a ton of businesses running ads. These days, however, Facebook is crammed with ads and the cost per click is pushing up against two dollars.

For advertisers who figured Facebook out early, it was a real cash cow. But, nowadays, you have to have a solid strategy just to make any money with Facebook Ads.

The other challenge with trying to be first is that it can sometimes be hard to predict which options are worth investing in and which ones will be a waste of time and effort. For example, remember Vine?

During its hey-day, Vine was a hub of content creation. Accounts that created memorable video snippets became incredibly popular, almost overnight.

And then, Vine died. All of the people who had invested countless hours into creating a following on Vine lost most of their network when the platform closed up shop.

For a while, it seemed like Vine could be the next big thing, but for reasons outside of its users’ control, it didn’t survive and all of their efforts went up in smoke.

So, while being an early adopter is exciting and can yield massive results, it isn’t without its share of risks. But, if you love figuring out new things and are willing to constantly jump on the latest bandwagon, striking first can be a very viable way to market your business.

3. Keep going…and going…and going

Our final marketing approach is far less exciting than being an early adopter. However, the grade-school truism of “slow and steady wins the race” is just as true in marketing as it is in any other area of life.

While it can be easy to look for quick results, there’s a lot to be said for consistency. 

Will posting daily on social media yield tons of followers overnight? No, but over the course of months-to-years, it will probably lead to a sizeable following. Will refining your paid search strategy on a regular basis cut your cost per click by next month? No, but give it long enough and you’ll have a CPC that makes your competitors green with envy.

The point is, most business success doesn’t happen overnight – even if it looks like it does. Behind every story of overnight success are countless days and nights of work. But nobody mentions all of the blood, sweat, and consistent effort that lead to a sudden stroke of brilliance. All we see is the end result – and then wonder why we can’t achieve the same thing without all of the effort.

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned in my career, it’s that consistently doing the right things usually yields results over time. It’s not always fun to be patient, but eventually, it pays off.

Of course, if your business is struggling to keep its head above water or patience and consistent effort make you miserable, this approach can be hard to employ. But honestly, even if your focus is on one of the other approaches we’ve discussed in this article, you’ll always be well-served by being consistent in your marketing.

Conclusion

With all the chatter out there about online marketing strategies, hacks and breakthroughs, it can be easy to get confused about what applies to your business…and what doesn’t. But honestly, most marketing advice fits into one of the three categories we’ve discussed in this article: 

  1. It helps make your marketing more compelling
  2. It’s a new idea that most businesses aren’t trying
  3. It’s something that needs to be done consistently to yield good results

Understanding which of these approaches you want to focus on in your business can help you figure out which strategies to try and which ones to ignore. If creative, compelling content simply isn’t your strong point, don’t try to implement a big, bold, attention-grabbing strategy. Instead, focus on tactics that play to your strengths.

Your business is unique. You don’t have to replicate what someone else does to be successful. You just have to figure out what makes your business special and the best way to communicate that to your audience.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

Jacob is passionate entrepreneur on a mission to grow businesses using PPC & CRO. As the Founder & CEO of Disruptive Advertising, Jacob has developed an award-winning and world-class organization that has now helped over 2,000 businesses grow their online revenue. Connect with him on Twitter.

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How to make video ads work for your local business

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Jacob Baadsgaard

Video advertising has become an increasingly important part of online marketing in recent years. There’s no real getting around that fact. If you want to increase brand awareness, drive conversions or sell products – a good video ad strategy is hard to beat.

Unfortunately, video advertising is a lot more complicated than your typical text, display or news feed ad. You have to write scripts, know how to run a camera, record decent audio, set up lighting, edit your footage and sound effects. Creating a video ad can be a daunting task.

This is especially true if you’re running a small, local business.

For many local companies, video advertising feels hopelessly out of reach. However, that simply isn’t the case. With the right strategy, even simple, easy-to-create video content can deliver great results.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at why video advertising is such a good idea for local businesses and 4 easy video strategies you can use to get great results – even if you don’t have a ton of video experience.

The advantage of being local

When it comes to video advertising, it might seem like the big chains have a lot of advantages over your local business. However, you have one thing they don’t: a direct connection with your target market.

I mean, when was the last time you heard anyone say, “McDonald’s is just such an important part of our community?”

All of the bulk discounts, supply chain efficiency and capital that makes big chains so powerful tends to disconnect them from their customers. People don’t love Walmart as a business. They might like Walmart’s prices or the wide range of products that they carry, but they don’t feel personally connected to Walmart. If another store with better prices or more products comes around, they’ll go to that store instead.

But people develop an affection for local businesses. They’re run by people from their community who feel real and relatable. When people feel that connection to a business, they want that business to succeed…and show their support with their money.

For example, there’s a hole-in-the-wall burger and shake shop in my home town called Glade’s that has been around for decades. Their food isn’t bad, but it certainly isn’t any better or cheaper than a lot of the newer chains that have set up shop lately. 

But, people keep going back. Why? Because it’s a part of the community. It’s where everyone goes after a game. It’s a generations-old tradition. Going there makes you feel like you’re part of something bigger – like you’re participating in the community as a whole.

And that’s exactly what you need as a local business.

Now, that being said, if your business hasn’t been around for decades, how do you make people feel like you’re an important part of the community? Video advertising.

More than any other advertising medium, video has the power to make people feel connected to your business. You can show people or places that your audience is familiar with, reference local events or figures – and make your business feel more like home than a chain ever could.

Why local businesses should use video

As we just discussed, video is intimidating for a lot of local businesses. It costs more and takes a much broader skill set than most other types of online marketing.

But, there’s a bright side to this.

Anytime that something is hard to do, there’s a business opportunity to be found. In this case, the fact that video is hard means that most local businesses aren’t doing it. That leaves the field wide open for any companies that learn how to make video work.

So, if you take the time to figure out a workable video ad strategy, you’ll often be way ahead of the competition. Even if the competition is already doing video ads, if you can get in on the game (or figure out how to do them more effectively), you’ll be able to stay relevant and maintain your competitive edge.

The good news is, while video advertising might seem intimidating, there are actually a ton of resources available to help you make video content. There are thousands of YouTube tutorials, blog posts and courses that will teach you the skills you need to make a basic video using the cell phone in your pocket. Or, if that seems like more effort than you have time for, there are plenty of video ad agencies that can make you a quick-and-dirty video for a reasonable price.

The resources are there. What you need to do is come up with the right video strategy…which is what we’ll get into in the next section.

3 Simple video ad strategies for local businesses

Often, local businesses overthink video advertising. They believe that they need to create something clever or complex, when they really just need to create something clear and compelling.

After all, most of the time, you aren’t competing with giant brands like Pepsi or Apple. You’re competing with other local businesses who have the same challenges as you.

So, with the right strategy and approach, video advertising can actually be both manageable and effective. Here are a few different types of video ads that any local business can pull off.

1. Brand story ads

One great way to create a compelling local video ad is to tell your brand story. Like we discussed above, one of your greatest advertising assets is your connection to the community, so if you can make an ad that showcases that, you’ll be well on your way to getting more customers in the door.

Here are some different types of brand stories that can work for local businesses:

  • The origin story. Why and how did you (or the owner) start your business? Help people connect with who you are and where you come from.
  • Your purpose. What are your business goals? What is your company passionate about? Give people a reason to get behind you.
  • Success stories. Who has your business helped? How has your business made a difference in the community? Show how supporting your business is supporting the community.
  • What makes your business unique. Is there something special about your products or services? Help people to see why they should be excited to buy from your business.

The point of a brand story ad is to help create awareness for your company. By the end of your ad, people should know that your business exists, that it’s local and feel interested in checking you out. 

That being said, brand story ads are pretty high funnel, so you might not get a ton of immediate foot traffic, but that’s not the point. The point is to build awareness and get on the radar of your potential customers.

As a general rule of thumb, shoot to keep your brand story ads between 30 and 60 seconds long. Basically, this type of ad should be short enough to get people interested, but just long enough to make a compelling case for your business.

2. Frequently-Asked Questions ads

Once people are aware of your business, it’s natural for them to start asking questions. This is actually a good sign, because it shows buying intent.

If you can address those questions in a reasonable and straightforward way, it will remove people’s concerns about using your business and help get people in your door.

The easiest way to do this? FAQ ads.

If you notice that you get a lot of the same sort of questions (either in person or in response to your ads), an FAQ ad can be the perfect way to get ahead of the curve. Questions like “What is it made from?” or “Where do you get your produce?” are easy to address in a video ad and give you a different way to reach out to potential customers.

In general, this sort of ad works best with an audience that is already familiar with your business. Your goal is to get people who are thinking about visiting your business to actually act, so FAQ ads are great for retargeting campaigns (often as a follow-up to brand story ads).

3. Testimonial ads

Want an easy, incredibly powerful video ad? Try creating a testimonial ad!

As we mentioned earlier, one of the best things about local video ads is the fact that you can create video content that includes recognizable elements: people, places, events, etc.

Testimonial ads from locals are a great way to say, “We’re local and we do great things for the people in our community.” To make things even better, you’re not the one saying good things about your business, which makes the ad even more compelling.

For example, take a look at this ad.

Great location? No. Great lighting? No. Great scripting? No. Compelling as all get-out? Absolutely.

Testimonial ads don’t have to be Hollywood studio quality. Their power is in their authenticity. As long as the message is on point and the footage is free of distracting elements, a video like the one above can make for a great ad.

There are a lot of easy ways to make a testimonial ad. You can ask people to record something themselves, have them come into your office or even film people at an event or other venues.

As you’re creating your testimonial ads, shoot to keep them under 45 to 60 seconds. Even though testimonials are interesting, watching someone drone on about your business for five minutes gets old fast. So, if you’ve got a ton of great testimonials (or a really long one), try breaking things up into multiple ads to keep things engaging.

Conclusion

Video advertising might not be the easiest way to market your local business, but if you do it right, it can be one of the most effective ways to differentiate yourself and get in front of your target audience. 

The good news is, with the right strategy, creating a compelling ad doesn’t have to be a huge headache. The key is to make sure that your ads capitalize on your strengths as a local business. Couple that with a compelling message and you’re on your way to success!


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

Jacob is passionate entrepreneur on a mission to grow businesses using PPC & CRO. As the Founder & CEO of Disruptive Advertising, Jacob has developed an award-winning and world-class organization that has now helped over 2,000 businesses grow their online revenue. Connect with him on Twitter.

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