What you need to know before buying ads for your creative biz

If you’re a creative entrepreneur struggling to generate sales, it may be a matter of driving quality traffic to your offers. If you take the Fix This Next assessment and find that "prospect attraction" is your key need to fix, it might be time to look at paid traffic methods.

While I don't recommend you start your business using ads (it takes time to find your nice and build an audience of Raving Fans to support an advertising budget), online advertising can be one of the most effective ways to get your brand seen and attract buyers. As your business grows, marketing (including advertising of SOME kind) needs to be part of your business budget. Most folks can't rely solely on organic traffic forever. If you’re looking to reach out to a wider client base, here are five types of online ads that might work for you.  

CTV or OTT ads

Sing it now: "Ya down with OTT? Yeah you know me!"

Have you ever clicked to watch a Youtube video and had a 4-second ad roll in front of it? That's OTT. Its cousin, CTV, is usually found on subscription platforms like Hulu. Whether you choose OTT ("over the top") or CTV (Connected TV), these ads are one of the biggest trends shaping advertising right now. They are essentially targeted video campaigns that reach your audience on whatever device or platform they are using: TV, web, or mobile. These ads seek out your people and you're only paying when people are watching.

Beyond brand awareness, you can sell your offers by creating engaging content that targets your best audience. Internet marketers have been steadily increasing their use of YouTube videos to promote their offers to new audiences. As a creative entrepreneur, OTT ads can boost your online visibility, increase sales, and help grow your list. To find out more about OTT ads, click here or click here to learn more about the differences between OTT & CTV to determine which might be better for you.

Pay-per-action ads

Ever click a sponsored link on a Google search, or a Facebook or Instagram ad? That's either a pay-per-click (PPC) or pay-per-thousand (PPM) ad. There are other actions, too, like pay per download, per like/share/interaction, etc. Pay-per-action ads are a way to ensure your ads show up on search engine results. These will appear either when potential clients search for certain keywords, or in the case of Facebook, based on a set of search criteria you create during the campaign setup.

With Pay-per-action ads, you are paying for visibility. That's the reason you're hearing a lot about "tiny offers" right now. There's a concept called Self-Liquidating Offers (SLO), where you sell something low-priced in order to cover your advertising costs and build your list of buyers. I just taught a class on Tiny Offers inside the Incubator last month. Done well, it can be a great way to attract buyers into your audience, but done poorly, it can be a great way to drain your bank account. It’s a good idea to combine this strategy with a way to generate organic leads, such as optimizing your SEO. Here is the ultimate guide to paid ads.

Banner ads

If you’re really looking to draw attention to your content, create matching banner ads. These can be a bit controversial in the digital marketing world, due to the theory that people can develop pop-up blindness. But in the right place on the right website, they still work, which is why people still use them for their marketing. It's not a per-action type ad, though, which means you're paying for "impressions". That means the number of times the page loads with your ad on it. So, if one person reloads that page 1000 times, that's 1000 impressions, generally speaking. The upside is that this type of advertising tends to be less expensive, again, depending on where you're advertising. The only targeting you can do (in most cases) is based on the audience that the site attracts. So if your brand is in great alignment with the site you're advertising on, you'll have much better success with your ads than if your banner isn't a good fit for the audience of that site.

Having said that, the inexpensive nature of banner ads makes it attractive for building top-of-mind awareness. During B-School season, there are lots of banner ads running on the Facebook expanded marketing network, which don't generally get me to click, but they were obviously memorable. I saw ads for Marie Forleo's program on shopping sites for clothes and jewelry - places I wouldn't expect to see an online marketer's face. If you can create brand consistency in this way, then potential clients will remember your image. You can also target specific audiences (and the websites they are likely to use) and show up in unexpected places where your competition might not exist.

Social media ads

As a creative entrepreneur, you probably already have a strong presence on social media. This is often the best way to network and spread word of mouth through loyal customers. It might be time, however, to optimise your social media campaign to include more than pay-per-action type ads.

Influencer advertising is a great option if your business falls into the cracks that Facebook doesn't like to promote. One of my clients, for example, is a sex therapist and sex-related advertising tends to get rejected on facebook. But paying an influencer to share you on their own social media feed for a day can do a LOT do drum up traffic and new business that's HIGHLY targeted for you. Here's Hootsuite's social media advertising 101 post to help you get the most bang for your social media ad bucks.

Native ads

Native ads are paid content such as articles, infographics and videos. The content is purposely created to align with the particular site where it’s displayed. It’s a good idea to work with an online advertising or digital marketing agency to help you create native ads. I've used native ads in my own content from time to time. A company sends me an article idea and if I like it, I'll run with it. There's usually a compensation exchange - either money, a link to their content, or both. The key is that you've got the ability to control the nature of the content so that it feels organic to your audience. You don't want to be sharing spammy crap with your people! That hurts you, your reputation, and your potential ROI for future partnerships. Here are some effective (and not-so-effective) examples of native advertising to give you an idea.

Hire A Professional Agency

If you’re looking to improve your online ad campaigns, you might also try outsourcing this to an agency. There are plenty of folks who are social media savvy, so expertise in digital marketing (especially paid placements) can be invaluable to you when you're ready for it. The right agency already has connections with bloggers, outlets, and other influencers, as well as a deep understanding of paid networks and can help you maximize your ad budget without having to do it all yourself.

As I said before, advertising isn't for everyone - at least, not when you're just getting started. But when you've nailed your niche, have a clear, compelling message or offer you want to share, and have a budget to put to work for you, online ads can make a big difference in your traffic, lead generation, and sales.

Want help figuring out your next steps? Join us in the Creative Freedom Incubator and get the help you need for whatever level of business you are at!


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