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How to Plan a Successful Advertising Campaign


Many bloggers and online entrepreneurs seek to GET advertisers for their site. But advertisers aren’t interested in your site unless you yourself have compelling traffic numbers.

Ways to boost your site traffic numbers include using social networking, social bookmarking sites, contests, SEO and viral marketing campaigns. Advertising gets less attention because there is usually a smaller ROI (Return on Investment). But even the smallest of websites can find ways to advertise effectively and on a super-tiny budget.

The key is to plan effectively. There are plenty of free advertising opportunities out there - but if you don’t have a plan behind the campaign, you can waste your time and everyone else’s, too.

Step 1 :: Define Your Target Market

Who wants your product or service? What’s their age, gender, nationality, income level, and general interests? If you’re just starting out, make some guesses. As a company or site evolves, different target markets will emerge, and sometimes surprise you.

You can find out quite a bit about your target audience by analyzing site traffic origins, search engine keyphrases, polling current customers/site visitors, and by examining your competition very closely.
Here’s my target audience for eMoms at Home:

Work at home parents (40%+ are males - to my surprise!)
Age 30 - 50

Primary residence in US (according to Alexa and Google Analytics)

Household Income level >75K

Primary interests (while they are on this site): Business, Entrepreneurship, Online Marketing, and Work-Life Balance
Secondary Interests (in general): Personal Development, Parenting, Communication and Shopping

Step 2 :: Understand Your Target Market

This is where my background in psychology has helped me tremendously in business. What motivates your target audience? What do they care about? What does their generation value?

Put yourself into their shoes. Create a profile of the person that you think would be your ideal customer. Even better, if you know some people in this demographic, call them up and ask them a few questions - especially if you don’t know a lot about what is important to them.

The Pew Internet & American Life Project also publishes free reports about the way people interact with each other and businesses online.

Step 3 :: Research Your Competition

Your established competition has likely made some mistakes along the way. You can learn from them and skip the mistake part - study your competition carefully. Who is linking to them? Where are they advertising? Are they doing any offline promotion? Have they changed their approach over the years, and if so, how?
Call them up and ask for a quote if they are a service business. Google your top keywords to see who is on the first page of results. You could even find a ‘complimentary’ competitor to interview (someone who targets the same audience, yet sells something different than your business).

Also, look for sites in your niche that have a SiteMeter button like this: SiteMeter Some sites actually leave their traffic stats open to the public - which is a peek into way more information than they should be giving you about their company!

Step 4 :: Brainstorm Ideas

Get creative and keep your end goal in mind. You want people to come to you or your site who will be the most likely person to become a repeat visitor/customer/client. The higher the quality of the referring source, the better the possibility this person will turn into just that. Things to consider:

From a technical perspective: Alexa rank, Google Page Rank, Technorati Rank, mailing and RSS subscriber lists.

From a branding perspective: Reputation, relevance, location, authority, context.

Do a little homework:

Do you want to create a banner ad or text link campaign?

Do you want to tap the power of search engines? They may require a small learning curve, but they also have the ability to send you the most targeted traffic of all.

Is your business local, and are there ways you can advertise both offline and online?

What barter options are out there in your niche?

Step 5 :: Pick Your Best Advertising Ideas and Just Do It!

In the end, there is nothing that I can say that will predict the best advertising path to take. When I went to Elite Retreat, I was surprised that even the most experienced marketers on the planet always created several campaigns to TEST which one got the best results.

Regardless, your site or business will pick up more visitors and build brand awareness - which is critical to your long-term success. And if your site/blog is your business, investing time and/or money into advertising your site will do that, and make you more attractive to other advertisers. Search Engine Guide advertises on this blog - yet sells their own advertising on their site. The investment they make in building traffic creates more value for their own sponsors.

Remember - there is no failure, only feedback. :D

For some free and cheap ways to kick off an advertising campaign, read today’s post Ten Free Advertising Opportunities for Your Business.

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    What do you think? Leave a comment. Alternatively, write a post on your own weblog; this blog accepts trackbacks [Trackback URL]. Comment Policy


    On May 10th, 2007 at 5:04 pm, Lists said:

    Now if you would just give us a 5 point plan to doing the research - that would be great :)

    On May 10th, 2007 at 8:05 pm, Dan Schawbel said:

    With advertising it’s all about knowing your target market and positioning your brand as superior and unique in that niche

    On May 10th, 2007 at 11:00 pm, Team Blog Rater said:

    Great post. I have an ad campaign going out here in about two weeks. And your post is right on.

    On May 10th, 2007 at 11:15 pm, Lowell C. said:

    I like this article. It is like business planning but blog specific. I appreciate the tips. They got my head turning.

    On May 11th, 2007 at 7:13 am, Wildwood, NJ said:

    Love your site. I’m 56, male (thats to help you! Ha Ha!. I have two issues that prompted me to respond. Sorry, but probably is OFF the track of this entire article, BUT, you did say it!

    You mentioned you need “Impressive Traffic Numbers”. What is the difference between selling to an advertiser for 1,000 clicks in one week, or selling for 1,000 clicks for one year? I agree you make more if you can sell for one week, but fact is if the return is good, you don’t need impressive Traffic Numbers to sell an ad.

    You also said your “advertsing gets less attention therefore creates a smaller return on investment.”. Your return on investment is determined by the price you pay for the clicks. OK, so you have less clicks per impressions. If the price is less also the advertiser still gets a good value.

    Heres how I look at it. I have x amount of ad space. Is it filled to max? No, then sell it at a discount. If yes, then is it time to increase the price?

    Sorry to get off track. I LOVE your BLOG! BTW, I’m sjerguy. I changed my name! Ha Ha!!!!

    On May 11th, 2007 at 10:31 am, Nick Schmidt said:

    Yes, it would be nice to start making money.. grrr

    On May 11th, 2007 at 5:35 pm, Dennis said:

    Awesome information! Thanks =P

    On May 16th, 2007 at 8:15 am, Friedbeef said:

    I like making my sitemeter live - makes the site more transparent

    On May 17th, 2007 at 1:57 am, Theda K. said:

    Great article! I will be figuring out my target audience (very similar to yours, actually), and following some of your other steps. Thanks for the tips!

    Mentions on other sites...

    1. Shoestring Smarts | Free Advertising and How to Get the Most Out of It on May 10th, 2007 at 6:01 pm
    2. Working at Home on the Internet on May 13th, 2007 at 11:01 am
    3. Doshy Link Attack! Digg, Personal Branding, Link Building, AdWords and Blog Contests on May 13th, 2007 at 6:44 pm

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