Although a common question, it can be a dangerous one.

People who are in the business of selling advertising love it when you ask this, it leaves you wide open to buy what they have.

Does this sound familiar?

  • “Hey, we have a new community publication, it’s a great marketing avenue and you should buy an ad it in. Everyone will be reading it.”
  • Or, “You should really run a giveaway on Facebook to increase your followers, just sign here and we’ll get that going for you.”

Sure, sounds great, right? Well, maybe.

The truth is making marketing decisions isn’t what it was 20 or 30 years ago. It used to be that marketing your business meant putting an ad in the Yellow Pages, printing up some brochures and maybe doing some newspaper or radio advertising. Even your storefront was advertising; people drove by, noticed your business and stopped in. The basic idea was “if you build it, they will come.” People bought, sold and did business locally because that was the option. Well, not anymore.

People buy, sell and do business globally. For most businesses, people don’t need or want what you have just because you’re local. There are some exceptions such as restaurants, residential landscapers and massage therapists but online search tools, like Google, and delivery services, like Amazon, give us the opportunity to use global services and make international purchases.

Stop asking others, “What are my marketing options?”
Instead, ask yourself:
1) “What are my business goals?”
2) “Who wants what I have?”


Take the time to think these questions through before buying advertising. If you know the answers, the marketing options for your individual business start to become a bit more clear. Sure, brand plays a role too (more on that to come), but start here.


1) The importance of business goals.

Let’s say, as an example, you have an e-commerce site and your goal is to increase online sales by an above average percentage this year. Everything you do needs to entice people to go to your site and make a purchase. This includes having ads or messaging online–allow people to click through to your site immediately. A print ad might be great to build awareness, but print creates extra steps like picking up a tablet or phone, going to a web browser and putting in a web address. This is added friction that most people are likely to skip, especially as technology use continues to increase. Once you get them to your site, the user experience is going to be extremely important as well–if it seems cumbersome or confusing, again the friction becomes high and you’ve lost the sale.

This one business goal provides direction in three ways:

A) Helps direct your advertising message and functionality:

Your marketing call to action (what you’re asking people to do) has to drive them to your website with a simple click of the mouse.

B) Starts to narrow down your marketing options:

Your advertising message needs to live in the online space if your goal is to make online sales immediately.

C) Informs website design and functionality:

The customer’s interaction with your business is the interaction they have with your website. If this is your primary sales tool, the design of your site needs to be based on making the purchasing process as seamless as possible.

That’s only one example. Maybe your goal is to increase the amount of projects you complete (and get paid for, of course) this year. In order to get the project in the first place, you need to bid it. So, your call to action in everything you do must encourage people to contact you for a proposal. How they do that is up to you–consider how you do your best work, how you close the deal more often than not. It might mean the call to action is to contact you for a face-to-face meeting or, first you send the prospect to your online gallery/portfolio followed by a phone call to answer any questions. Be strategic in your approach.

Take the time to examine how your business goals can direct your marketing. Know what it is you need people to do in order to meet those goals. Then, look for ways to create the experience needed to close the deal.


To be continued:

Part 2: Your Target Audience: Getting in front of the people who want what you have

(Tip: This isn’t everyone!)