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A question I frequently get asked by both my clients and people I meet networking is about paid digital advertising. This form of marketing is attractive because platforms like Facebook and Google Adwords have made it fairly easy for businesses of any size to get their brands, products, and services in front of their target audiences.

Paid advertising can help you grow your business rapidly. However, as the name would suggest, there is a cost, and I’m not just talking about the obvious one. Yes, you have to pay in terms of money to purchase the ads. But you also invest time in terms of setting up and managing the ad campaigns. Factor in the opportunity cost of your money and time, and paid advertising suddenly becomes about more than dollars and cents. 

This is not to dissuade anyone from making paid advertising part of their marketing mix. Done properly, paid advertising can help small- and medium-sized businesses compete with large national competitors and give them the opportunity to grow and be successful. 

However, paid advertising is not something to jump headlong into without consideration. Here are some things you must consider before starting a paid advertising campaign.

DEFINE YOUR GOALS

For any aspect of your marketing efforts to be successful, you must first define what success looks like by setting your goals. Before you begin an ad campaign, define what a successful campaign would be and reverse engineer a campaign strategy from there. 

Your goals will serve as a beacon to guide your activities during the ad campaign as well as a way for you to measure the performance of your ad(s). 

UNDERSTAND YOUR AUDIENCE

Before you begin any ad campaign, make sure you understand who you are trying to attract. Your target audience will dictate the platforms you select to run your paid ad(s). Each platform has their own way of targeting, so the more understand your audience, the better you will be able to craft ads that will attract their attention and get them to act. 

HAVE A PROCESS IN PLACE

This is where I see many businesses fail when it comes to running paid ad campaigns. Running successful campaigns is about having a system of marketing in place. You have to have a process in place to collect and move leads towards a sale. You also need to have a way to retarget any lead that may fall out of your marketing funnel. 

When your process is in place, you can make the most of every lead generated by your ad campaign. Additionally, any lost leads are retargeted, which opens up an almost-lost opportunity to close a sale on a person who expressed interest. This ensures that the money you spend on paid advertising is spent wisely. 

SCHEDULE A TIME TO REVIEW AND REVISE

To truly maximize your ad dollars, take some time to review the performance of your ads and make any necessary adjustments. Chances are that your first ads may not perform as well as you would like. That’s okay, but only if you recognize this fact and make the changes needed to improve their performance. 

Every platform has their own set of key performance indicators (KPIs), so make sure you understand what those are and evaluate your ad against them. Also, make sure you evaluate the performance of your ad against your set goals. 

SET A BUDGET

This one seems fairly obvious, but make sure you set a limit for your ad spending. A budget prevents you from overspending as well as keeping an eye on the performance of your ads.  

You should already have a budget set up for your overall marketing activities. Within that, set a budget for ad spending, and, when you run specific ad campaigns, set a budget for each campaign. As your ads generate revenue, you can make the decision to devote some of the incoming revenue to increasing your paid ad budget.

Paid advertising can be an excellent way to create awareness for your business, generate interest for your services/products, or promote a special event. However, you have to be smart about it to be successful. Make the most of the time, effort, and money you put into paying for ads by coming up with a plan. Following the steps above will give you the best chance to run successful ad campaigns and grow your business. 

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