Spend the time to learn SEO and you’ll have a leg up on your competitors for life.
6. Go after the widest possible audience of potential purchasers of your product or service. If you own a pizza parlor, forget the idea of somehow just targeting people who eats tons of pizza. Studies actually show the opposite: that most growth comes from increasing “casual” users’ consumption of your product.
I’ll illustrate this with a brand everyone is familiar with: Coca-Cola. How many Cokes would you guess the typical Coke customer buys a year? 365 — one every day? 52 — one every week? Nope — try two a year. So Coke’s biggest growth opportunity is simply increasing the typical Coke buyers annual purchase rate from two to three. Suddenly, their huge advertising budgets start to make sense.
For more on this topic, I highly recommend reading “How Brands Grow” by Byron Sharp (especially if you’re skeptical of the above Coke statistic).
7. Google Adwords (now Google Ads) campaigns tend to have the highest short-term ROI. Why? Well, with most advertising you’re pitching to people who have no need of your product at this very moment. With Adwords, you’re advertising to people who are already looking for what you offer — you just need to show up with the right sales pitch. In my experience, this leads to an excellent return on advertising spend (ROAS).
A word of caution though: advertising on Adwords is highly competitive, complicated, and can get expensive quick. Either do it right, or stick to handing out flyers because you’ll end up having to sell the family farm. This article is a great way to get started learning it.
8. Just because something isn’t easily trackable, doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. As Albert Einstein allegedly once said: “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.” It’s true in science and it’s true in marketing. Despite the 21st century’s obsession with data, there always has been and always will be some element of faith in marketing. If you know your customer and you feel like a campaign you’ve got bouncing around in your head would influence more people to try your product, don’t let the fear of not being able to perfectly track it back to sales keep you from doing it.
A famous example is Clif Bar in the early 2000s ignoring most everyone’s advice to run a big TV ad campaign and instead pushing hard into event marketing to cyclists (which was near impossible for them to track). 10 years later, they’re estimated to be doing somewhere between $500 million and $1 billion in revenue.
9. Avoid lifestyle advertising. Unless you are in a lifestyle category (soda, alcohol, fashion, etc), keep your advertising functional. By that I mean sell hard benefits to the consumer like low prices or superior quality.
A lot of companies get into trouble by thinking that the consumer cares more about them than they actually do. The vast majority of the time, the consumer doesn’t give two flips about you or your company. In my opinion, it’s wiser to be like Claude Hopkins and believe the consumer is 100% selfish and is only going to use your company to get what they want, at the lowest possible price.
A good example is the industry I’m in, heating and air conditioning. As much as I’d love to believe people sit at home thinking about Franklin Heating & Air’s low prices and pretty red colors, the reality is they don’t. They care about us at most once or twice a year, when their HVAC system breaks. And you know what? That’s just fine.
10. Test everything. And I mean everything. In my experience, the best way to improve your marketing results is to continually test your ads/posts/messaging/etc against each other.
To do that, you first have to pick a meaningful metric to track. Sales generated is obviously the best metric, but you won’t always be able to perfectly tie it back to what you’re doing. And oftentimes you don’t need to. For example, an Adwords ad is best measured by it’s clickthrough rate, which works just fine. CTR is a great metric for that use case because it encompasses everything about the ad and allows easy comparison to other ads.
Don’t stop at the obvious stuff like paid ads either. In the past, I’ve tested everything from website headlines, landing page body copy, and even my little footer at the bottom of this page. If you relentlessly test your customer facing assets, you WILL improve your results.
11. Unless you have a big idea, your campaign will pass like a ship in the night. That’s an old David Ogilvy quote, but it’s true. Humans tend to ignore things they’ve seen before. It takes great skill and creativity to draw a busy consumer’s attention towards your product or service. So don’t be afraid to do something abnormal, particularly if you’re competing against industry giants.
At the same time, don’t make a fool of yourself for attention’s sake. As legendary adman Bill Bernbach used to say, you can get anyone’s attention by running an ad featuring a man glued to the ceiling, but you should only do that if you’re selling glue.
12. Fail cheaply. Growing a business is hard. If it was easy, everyone would have their own little island in the Caribbean, Richard Branson style: