QnA About Branding or Advertising

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I am a Director of Communications for a media agency. Here to answer your questions about branding or advertising.

I am Director of Communications at a small media planning and buying agency (~75 people) and I have a few hours to kill to answer any questions you may have about either branding or advertising.

Here is a little bit about my background:

• Graduated with a bachelors degree in marketing in < year >

• Started my career in organic social media/community management and updating websites.

• Moved into paid social media. I have hands-on experience with many social platforms and have personally executed millions of dollars a year in spend for an array of different national brands.

• I started my own a branding company which was my only focus for 5 years before c0v1d wrecked us. We were only a team of 6. Our company worked mostly on brand development (visual design, brand architecture, brand voice, etc) and building marketing plans for small to medium size companies.

• For the past 3 years I've been at my current media agency and have grown into more holistic media planning and worked for dozens of clients with our creative, programmatic and media teams. I have extensive experience in both Business-to-Consumer (B2C) and Business-to-Business (B2B) marketing. A typical client's media spend at my agency is somewhere between $10MM-$40MM per year.

If you have any general or high level Marketing questions, let me know! Cheers.
179 💬🗨

In your experience. What has worked in Business-to-Business (B2B) regarding Lead Generation.

Idontwanttospeak ✍️
The most successful lead gen that I've seen is usually a mix of content syndication partners + social. Content syndication usually has guaranteed leads so it's easy to budget. Social is more varied in terms of price of course but usually effective. LinkedIn in my experience is effective but not efficient (at least in North America) with high Cost Per Lead (CPL)s but usually clients include it as part of their media mix because it has the additional benefit of having their content on the #1 business platform which also has a social sharing element. I would call out that first you absolutely need to be working with a company that captures your pipe line and revenue on the back for all of your channels so that you can use that information to drive your long term strategy forward instead of a front-end metric like Cost-Per-Lead.

I didn't ask the question, but thanks for your answer. Could you clarify what you mean by content syndication partners
Idontwanttospeak ✍️
Content syndication is using your owned media (case studies, white papers, demos, etc) and republish that content through partners that specialize in reaching specific niche communities. So if you are a tech Business-to-Business (B2B) company, you might have your Q3 white paper or a webinar you are offering and you partner with a company like Madison Logic or TechAdvice (there are dozens) that specialize in advertising and driving downloads/sign ups among developers, for example. These partners usually work on a Cost Per Lead (CPL) basis meaning that you give them your goals and audiences and they guarantee you a price per lead. In my experience, most B2B companies think of content syndication as "cheap leads" that drive volume efficiently but don't drive sales. That has not been my experience and I believe companies that believe that do so because they are 1. either not tracking pipeline and revenue properly and not integrating that information into their acquisition strategy or 2. they tried a measurement tool but turned it off before that lead becomes pipeline or revenue positive. Sales funnels can sometimes be months or years and so if you aren't measuring for that amount of time, it might seem like you are wasting your money. For some of my past B2B clients, pipeline would show up 4 to 6 months after the lead was acquired. For another, 15 months. It depends on your vertical, product and audience. It's a long game.
This is fascinating. I've been working in marketing for years and wasn't aware of this as a Business-to-Business (B2B) lead gen channel. At least not in the way you clearly articulated it.

My company sells audience/competitor research to digital strategists, so maybe I'll look into whether any of the publications in our space offer syndication deals like this.

A big part of my learning B2B marketing and sales line up with what you said. You simply cannot expect to measure it in a simple way like eComm or other Business-to-Consumer (B2C) types of marketing. We use a lot more qual measurement than quant, and never expect direct 1:1 Return of Investment (RoI) measurement of our own business development efforts.
Idontwanttospeak ✍️
Nice! Yes definitely check it out and see if it's a good option for you. Have great content to share if you decide to go with it.

Story Branding For Tech B2B: We're a Software as a Service (SaaS) firm with three primary solution silos, each requires a varying degree of custom implementation and systems integration. Forrester and Gartner pushes heavily on Story Branding (Forrester is tacking "Purpose Branding" onto that now) for Business-to-Business (B2B). We executed reasonably well and received accolades from our connections at both. Results from customers/prospects, "I don't know what you do." We're deep into our second website design/content refresh with a more product/features-centric approach, feedback from customers/prospects, "This makes perfect sense now." For some verticals, is story branding tone deaf nonsense?

My company went all in on Story brand about three years ago. Over time, perfect adherence has gone way downhill, but the most important thing that continues to inform our marketing is being customer centric and positioning us as the guide, not the hero.

I am glad the sales team took part in the exercise because it got all of them focused on the client, not us, and they're able to better use our materials. That was the overall value of Story brand specifically for my B2B.

We're all-in on customer-first, including sales. I don't allow a stock "capabilities" or "about us" deck. Each presentation to a new opportunity is after a conversation about their issues, and is built specific to them (from per-built components) and focuses on future state, problem solved.

My issue with Story Branding and Forrester's new du-jour of Purpose Branding, especially in B2B tech sales/marketing, is that it can often lead copy down a high-brow road of grandiose "see how much we think about your outcomes" babble. Our new site/materials (hopefully) focuses clearly and concisely on a highly positive outcome for our customer's customers. Is that still story branding, or is it simply nobullshit branding?

Which platform do you use for programmatic? Do you see more click frauds/bots in programmatic? Do you optimize for reach & frequency or clicks in programmatic? How do you plan budget split between each channels?

Idontwanttospeak ✍️
Mostly The Trade Desk. We use outside 3rd parties to detect click fraud/bots (DoubleVerify is a big one) so it is usually not a problem.

What we optimize for depends what the objective is. It's usually a mix of reach and frequency for the highest level brand awareness and then optimizing for clicks as a secondary campaign to capitalize on that higher brand awareness reach.

For budget splitting, that is dependent on your audience and product. If more education is needed to explain your product or service, or if your product is super expensive, you might want to weight budget more towards channels at the top of the funnel. If you are something everyone needs all the time, you could weigh heavier towards channels at the lower end of the funnel.

I'll note that our agency is in beta for a proprietary tool we built that will use machine learning and predictive data models to set up scenarios of optimal media mix spend. I believe the industry will soon be moving in this direction.

Curious about your model: what makes you think this will be important for the future?

Do you think people seem to see that as the future on the client side yet
Idontwanttospeak ✍️
I think it will be important in the future because measurement is becoming more challenging which is making planning more challenging. Walled gardens for social, new ecosystems like Walmart or Netflix, media fragmentation (avg. US person now at 7 devices), new privacy updates (cookies, iOS14, etc) and laws – all contribute to companies have incomplete pictures of their data. Predictive modeling will need to be used more and more for planning and projecting results.
Thank you for this!
Idontwanttospeak ✍️
You're welcome!

At which budget point do you execute research before campaigns, if you execute that at all?

Idontwanttospeak ✍️
Generally there are two buckets of research you need to do before campaigns, market research and audience research. For market research, we don't spend tooooo much time on that because at our agency and definitely at large agencies, there is usually always someone in the agency who has specific experience in that vertical that we can lean into. We do a ton of audience research however and have several audience tools we have annual subscriptions to and that cost is included as part of our fee to the client for execution.

On top of that, I'd say use 15% of any media budget to test something new – a new tactic, a new channel, a new partnership.

Could you share an example of audience research and how you implemented it in a campaign
Idontwanttospeak ✍️
In media planning, your audience research is ultimately trying to build out a user's daily media journey that you can then build a campaign strategy around.

Throughout the day, what devices do your audience use, what channels do they use, what publications are they fans of, where are they physically when they see messaging (ex. I drive home listening to podcasts vs. I live in San Francisco and use the metro.)? This usually requires a lot of demographic and behavioral audience research.
What tools do you use? At a previous job I used clear decisions and like it, but I no longer have access to the software. Are there free alternatives? @idontwanttospeak
Idontwanttospeak ✍️
There are a ton of audience research tools out there but not sure how many of them are free. We use the bigger ones Oracle, Bombora, Resonate, etc.
Right right, but like, once you have that information about audience behaviour, how does that translate into your media buying approach? I have some ideas of this, but I'd be suppppper interested to hear your nitty gritty on it.

Asking because I do audience/competitor research for my job and it's so helpful for me to know exactly how media buyers and strategists truly use it after we've put all the effort into creating it.
Idontwanttospeak ✍️
Once we have the audience research, we start building out the funnel around that audience information matched with any information we have about the product/service of our client. For example, product x is new and needs vast brand awareness amongst client's core audience. We know from audience research in the morning most of our audience. is listening to a podcast on the way to work so let's build out a brand awareness campaigns with some podcasts that over-index for our audience. Then we know that person gets to work and spends 20% of their day on their Google android phone catching up on politics on twitter. Lets build an intent campaign with some publishers who have strong twitter engagement and run our own ads there…etc and on and on. We build a recommendation of channels and partners that fits within the client's budget.

When you were starting out, how did you win your first clients? I mean specifically, what method worked best?

Idontwanttospeak ✍️
One of the most effective methods we had for getting new clients throughout our experience was having solid case studies. This was at our core – we start every project with the end goal of making a case study out of it (instead of finishing the project then scrambling to put something together). And the case studies were really thorough and helpful – no fluff general marketing jargon. When you are just starting out, people are going to believe you have little to no experience and they will use that to negotiate price. If you can show them what you do, instead of telling them what you do, it helps tremendously. When we were first starting out, we made it a goal to build 5 really solid case studies (lots of information, beautifully designed PDFs) mostly made of projects we did at previous companies, and we would present those to prospect clients on introduction calls.

I work at an ad agency, or rather "creative consultancy" and I've been tasked with writing our case studies. It's tough! I try to add elements of storytelling, but then they become to long. For the most part, they are very dry and boring IMO. Any advice on how to write a case study that people will actually read? I'd love to see examples of what you mentioned if you're willing to share. Thanks I'm advance! (I created a Reddit account just to make this comment! Worth a try to gain some valuable advice)
Idontwanttospeak ✍️

You're right, case studies are difficult. My experience in media has been when someone is asked to draft a case study, what they end up writing out is a laundry list of tactics they executed surrounded by a bunch of marketing fluff words. My general rule of them is if you wouldn't want to read it, then no one else would either. Story telling is a difficult craft to master and on top of that, all other media copy is about brevity – say it shorter, say it shorter, say it with less character spaces, etc. so our brains don't think in long form content like they used to.

I actually love the challenge of forcing myself to really develop a long form case study because what it does is essentially writes your copy for the rest of your marketing channels. You do all the writing up front in a way that flows and is cohesive. Most companies work backwards and think channel first – what do I write for Instagram, what do I say on the website, what should I say in this press release, etc. When you force yourself to write the case study first, you can always pull from it and shortened it for other channels. It ends up helping you tell a better story and saves time in the longer run.

So, I don't think I have any of my old case studies but I can share with you my current general layout and thoughts.

Start by talking about people: I start every case study by talking about what the client does and what vertical they are in, the relationship our agency has with our client, how this specific campaign came to be, the different people working on it and why you guys were excited to take on this challenge.

State the key takeaway upfront: This is your headline. It's 2 sentence MAX of why I should read this case study. Give this a lot of thought because everything you write from then on should support that key takeaway. Example: "Agency X takes over Company Y's Search campaigns and doubles Return on Ad Spend with three new tactics. " If you work in Search, this might be really appealing to you.

State the clients goal of the campaign: use only one goal. Don't clutter with multiple overlapping goals. Keep the messaging clear: we had one goal and we nailed it.

Talk about your approach: there is an urge in this section to start listing out everything you needed to do to get the project set up – resist that urge. This section shows *how you think* about solving problems. You know what the client's goal was – what questions did you have to ask your self about how to reach this goal, what things needed to be considered before any decisions, etc.

Show your execution: this is where you talk about what you approach lead to. List out the Challenge, the Solution and the Results. Include partnerships you needed to work with, strategy and tactics, metrics that show your success. Remember that this slide has to validate your goal and key takeaway.

Say in plain english what you learned: don't use any numbers on this slide like you do on the previous slide. Tell me what you learned from your approach, your strategy, your execution and your results, that can be considerations in the future.

End with a strong quote from the client. Write it for them and ask them to tweak it. This way you get a really strong quote and the client is more likely to approve it if they don't need to write themselves.

Hope this helps!
Amazing. This is very helpful and actionable advice! Yes, I've had to draft from long laundry lists. We're writing case studies for our website not PDFs or decks, but everything you said still applies. I'd love to see any links to case studies you think nailed it. I really appreciate your time!
Idontwanttospeak ✍️
Awesome, happy to help. If I see a few, I'll follow up here.

How are you managing digital and traditionnal advertising together and attribute results holistically for both?

Idontwanttospeak ✍️
I think that measurement and attribution are the biggest challenges in the industry along with brand story telling.

Your typical measurement and attribution tools, even for all digital channels, are becoming less effective for a variety of reasons including: walled gardens(mostly social), new ecosystems (think walmart and netflix), media fragmentation (the average US person uses 7 different devices), and privacy laws/updates.

But to answer your question about attribution between digital and traditional advertising specifically, it is difficult but for CPG(for example) we mostly use geo-lift studies that use hold out markets and then measure expected/historical sales and actual sales as heavy brand awareness campaigns run in specific geos .

How do you think the 'end of cookies' will have an impact?

Idontwanttospeak ✍️
I think first we have to remember that Firefox and Safari ended cookies in < year > so half the internet is kinda "dark". People forget that because most of the conversation focuses around Google Chrome which hasn't ended cookies yet.

Ending cookies will have big impacts on both media planning and media measurement. For planning, there is going to be a heavy shift back to 1P data being super important which is gong to force a lot of companies to re-examine how they ask users for data and what data, those users are willing to give up. For the measurement and insights part, I believe machine learning using predictive data models will be the new way forward and it will spark a new industry of who has the best input data and algorithms that forecast the most accurately. We've built something internally and are currently beta testing it with clients.

On the measurement side, would this be similar to running scenarios/simulations via media mix modeling of 1P data
Idontwanttospeak ✍️
Similar but one of the key differences being the speed at which it would take place. In your standard mmm you have weeks of collecting, interpreting, presenting and optimizing. With Machine Learning (ML) moving forward, I imagine it will take months to fine tune but after that, you should be able to to optimize in days.

What are some things that pique your interest on a resume?

Idontwanttospeak ✍️
You always want decent experience but more important to me are:

– You are motivated and proactive. If someone isn't motivated, it's an impossible task to get them motivated. I prefer to hire someone who is highly motivated and under skilled than someone unmotivated that is highly skilled. You can train people to develop skills if they are motivated but you can't get them to care if they don't.

– you are a problem solver. I real look for people who have some sort of entrepreneurial experience. When you are starting a company, it's nothing but solving problems. You never say 'I cant do this' you get into a habit of asking "whats the best way to tackle this big problem" – having that mindset permeate everything you do is huge.

– You are a good communicator – even better, a story teller. You can be the best analyst or marketer or whatever but communicating those ideas clearly and effectively takes you to another level no matter what your role is. I like the phrase "if you cant explain it simply, then you don't know it well enough yourself". Internal communication is just as important, especially as the world moves to more remote work. Do you follow up with people? do you assume the best intentions from others when communicating with them?

– you understand how your role impacts the larger organization: It's so easy to get bogged down in your exact role because there is always something new to learn, but you cant lose focus of the bigger picture – this means understanding all the other moving elements in Marketing. You don't need to be an expert or even have hands-on experience in those other areas but you need to be able to clearly articulate what they do and how your roles work together.

Just to name a few things!

Damn these are great, thanks for sharing
Idontwanttospeak ✍️
You're welcome!

Thanks for coming here and answering questions!

I am a longtime content marketer who has moved into a role where I am talking to people doing paid social (much more Business-to-Consumer (B2C) than Business-to-Business (B2B)).

What are the significant differences that you see between those two worlds that are important to know?

When you were running so many successful campaigns in paid social, what surprised you and what helped you be equipped for that space?

Appreciate your insight!

Idontwanttospeak ✍️

What area were you creating content for before paid social? I think the best advice I could give for content marketing within paid social is to discuss with the media team and client where in the funnel the creative will be running. Like, which actual objective in-platform will be used(reach, clicks, conversions, etc) for this creative. When you have the objective, understand what the ad unit looks like for that objective (ex: does it have a Call to Action (CTA) button? What is the character count for the copy that it will accompany?). Then create content appropriate for that part of the funnel:

Example funnel/nike content messaging

– High level brand awareness (optimized for reach/views): Just Do It.

– Mid-level intent (optimized for clicks): Introducing our latest running shoe the XYZ.

– Lower-funnel (optimized for conversions): Only $99, available in 4 colors.

– End of funnel (optimized for sign-ups): refer a friend and get $25 off your next purchase.

Most company just send over 4 versions of the same creative and say "here, run this on social" for all stages and tactics. That isn't optimal. Have 3 to 5 versions for each stage of the funnel.

Working in paid social, one of the things that surprised me the most is how fast the platforms update. There is always some new feature to test or try and if your client hears about it before you've introduced it, it's hard to talk them out of trying it lol. It's good practice to stay ahead of what is new in each platform so you can at least speak to them with your clients. We mostly rely on our agency reps to keep us up to date on new features or beta opportunities.

We are a startup that sells to fire departments mostly. Paid social had been huge for us, as members live and communicate on social.

We are a one product company so far. Our product name and company name are very different. Logos are very different.

Our online channels/profiles are all currently under the company name, but promoting the product/product name.

Should I change over our profiles to be the product name? Or should I have two profiles, one for the company and one for the product? Trying to plan for the future.

Idontwanttospeak ✍️

I would first say that your company branding and product branding should be in-sync. Usually products do not have their own logos. The company logo is usually on the product so people know where the product came from. I would keep it as everything under one company name especially if your future products serve the same audience (fire department). Create one brand at the company level and then use brand elements (colors, fonts, visuals) to design your product packaging.


It's hard because the company and product were set up before I arrived. The product name is more of a product family, and all our awareness thus far has been built around the product brand. I'd say market awareness of our company is low, but of our product is med-high. So I can't abandon the product name, brand and logo.
Idontwanttospeak ✍️
If that's the case, it may not be too late to set up a new Limited Liability Company (LLC) for that product and make it the company and brand. Something to consider.

I've been a marketer for a tech firm for a couple of years, so never had experience working in an agency. It seems like a tougher but richer experience, faster learning. I'm always curious to learn how agencies work, and want to learn as much as possible. Without taking a job in an agency or having personal contacts in one, is there any way I can learn how exactly agencies takes care of marketing for clients?

Idontwanttospeak ✍️
I've worked both on the brand side and on the agency side and can shed a bit of light. You've essentially hit it on the head with 'it's a tougher but richer experience'. The pros of working for an agency are: the vast amount of ever-changing resources you have access to (new audience tools, research tools, beta opportunities, etc). The vast amount of knowledge you acquire – each client has its own vertical, market and audiences to research and learn about. Agencies are usually set up with 'client teams' which consists of something like: a media director who is responsible for communication between the client and agency and help lead overall strategy, channel lead experts (social, search, programmatic, direct partnerships) and then an analyst that focuses on data and optimizations. The bigger the client, the bigger the agency's client team. The media directors usually will have a few clients they work on at once, while channel leads and analysts will be on several other clients at once. The down side of working at an agency is how fast it moves. Burnout at agencies is one of the highest of any industries. It is overwhelmingly Type A personalities that are competitive in nature. The larger agencies also have outside pressure from their investors and holding companies which increases how quickly everything moves to increase revenue. After doing contract work for many of the big agencies, I am happy to be at a smaller and independent agency so we are able to better manage work/life balance. If you put in a few years at an agency, going to the brand side seems much easier lol

Thanks for the detailed answer. If I maybe a bit greedy and ask one more question, is there something I can do as an in-house marketer to expedite my learning and get closer to the level of an agency marketer? My current job, while it does provide different opportunities, learning is glacier level slow. 90% of what I learn is just me picking a random marketing function to learn and learning online which ends up superficial. Plus I'm just impatient so double the trouble haha

What is the biggest/worst mistake novice advertisers make? How can we solve it?

What's the best advice you have for novice advertisers? What's something you wish someone would ask about but nobody ever has?

Idontwanttospeak ✍️
I think one really good tip is to have a full understanding of marketing as a whole ecosystem. This is what will move you up in companies. If you really want to do Paid Social Media for example, that is great, learn everything about Social Media and get experience in all the platforms – but do not make it 100% of your week. You need hours to learn just basic fundamentals about how it alls works together. Content marketing, creative, analytics, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Public Relations (PR), influencers, etc., – I call it being 'a jack of all trades and master of one.' Watch basic YouTube videos or meet with people at your company who work in different roles and ask if you can just take them to coffee and ask them the basics about what their expertise entails and how it might compliment your own expertise. When you have this broader context – it's easier for you to be able to talk about high level strategy vs. specific channel tactics (and ideally you can do both!)

I'm a freelance meta advertiser that charges £800-£2000/month to create and manage ads

How do I start working with companies that will pay me £100,000/month

I'm guessing a lot needs to change but what would you advise I do for the next 5-10 years to get to that point

I'm not OP, but no company will pay a single freelancer over $100k a MONTH to run Meta ads for them. It's just not a smart business decision. At some threshold they're going to expect an entire team full of strategists and analysts to be working on their account across multiple advertising platforms and channels for that rate. Anywhere around 6-10 people to manage their likely $50MM+ budget.
Idontwanttospeak ✍️
Hate to break it to ya, but in this industry, to make that kinda money, you've gotta be a shareholder at one of a top marketing agencies. The small number of Marketing Virtual Private Server (VPS) in California at the very very top make between $250k $500,000 per year.

To put it in perspective a little, let's just use your average 10% agency fee. For you to make $100K in a month, you need to be spending a $1MM a month in Meta ads. When a company is spending a $1MM per month just on Meta ads, that means their actual marketing budget is much larger, which means they need a team of strategist, analysis, data scientists, creative designers, etc. to build a holistic marketing plan of which Meta is just a small part.

If starting an agency is the way you want to move into, I'd recommend learning as much as you can about all aspects of marketing – even if you don't offer them initially, learn about every area and how they all work together – offline/online, creative, full-funnel strategy, direct publishers, programmatic, social media, influencer marketing, etc. The companies that have huge budgets already understand how all of marketing works and you learning about every area is the first step in being able to speak the language.

This is a great answer. Thank you for taking the time
Idontwanttospeak ✍️
You're welcome!

What are your current Social Media platforms of choice (for organic, not paid)? What is the biggest shifts in social you've noticed recently?

Idontwanttospeak ✍️
Which social platform you should be on is really dependent on your core audience. I would do some audience research and find out which platforms your audience uses most and try to build communities there. I just did an organic social audit for a food delivery company and their sweet spot was Facebook and they had the most room to grow on TikTok.

For me the biggest trend lately in Social Media is how much consumers trust social media platforms is down for every single platform across the board. Social Media companies will need to find a way to rebuild trust in users if they want to succeed in anything.

What are abcs of branding that a small business must follow to make themself a memorable brand?

Idontwanttospeak ✍️
The goal of branding is consistency. Every single touchpoint with a customer or potential customer should look, feel and sound the same. Whether you are talking to customers via a billboard or through email, you want people to instantly recognize that it's your company. Spend the time upfront to build out a brand book before you start any marketing. It's a lot of work but you are front-loading all of your marketing efforts.

To build a brand, I like to say 'define, simplify, amplify." Spend a few days defining who you are, what you do, why you do it and who you do it for – in detail. Then write and re-write to make all of those points simply to understand. Can you say it in fewer sentences? Can you say it one sentence? Can you say it with a word or picture? Then you are ready to amplify.

Regarding B2B Leadgen programs.

We're using a mix of direct LI outreach, combined with LI leadgen focused ad sets (focus on lead magnets), messaging and website optimisations for clients (subscribe to a customer pain first approach).

We underpin everything with Hubspot Client Relationship Management (CRM), landing pages, web forms and email workflows. (To ensure tracking and always on LG capability for clients)

You've mentioned content syndication earlier, does allow for the content to link back to a landing page for download and lead capture for example, or does it only satisfy the awareness and credibility piece?

What other mix of activity has been effective for you, specifically in driving positive short and medium term lead gen? We work with start up – small business clients who specifically don't have the skill set to develop their own and typically we satisfy two key outputs – infrastructure setup and lead gen (which is typically a 6-12m engagement).

Would be interested in discussing strategy/framework with you.

Idontwanttospeak ✍️
Content syn will allow you to link back to a landing page like if you have a form on your site you want filled out, content syn can be directed there.

I would say a good tip is do not forget about branding. Have an always on branding campaign that runs all year. Build that brand awareness for the long term. don't go all in on leads because it will lead to saturated audiences and diminished returns.

Sounds like you do interesting work!

Good news that re CS, will look into that per industry vertical, thanks.

The branding is less our part to play because we don't like to be brand owners, but we do setup the messaging to be more pain focused than product solution focused, which is a part of the brand/marketing output.

Hypothetically, how would you chop a $10k monthly budget up between content syndication, LI LG ads, Pay Per Click (PPC), or any other paid channels for short to medium term success? Let's say, sub 12mo horizon.

I run a small online retail hobby store. Stuff like board games, card games, accessories etc. We've been open for a year but most of our clients come from posting stuff on specific fb groups. Any tips / ideas for how we can market and brand ourselves without having to fight others on price? Thx

Idontwanttospeak ✍️
Sounds like a cool store!

Organically you can join these Facebook groups and make yourself known. Use your real face, provide feedback, insights and your general knowledge about all of the things you sell. Offering that free value will keep you in people's minds when they want to buy something. When you cant beat competitors on price, you can focus on your "brand" which is you are the go-to person for all knowledge and trivia about different hobbies!

If you want to try your hand at some Facebook ads, be sure you know what your average margin is on your sales so that you know how much you can spend acquiring each new lead without running into the red.


We've been doing the first since day one but definitely not enough. Will try to work on that more. It will also require even more learning on our side, but that is always welcome.

We know our margins well, but we have a hard time tracking conversions from ads. Also just making good ads in general. We will be looking for an agency soon though.
Idontwanttospeak ✍️
Definitely! Keep learning – give away free value to your community. Your free value can be your knowledge, expertise, your sense of humor even! Give people a free reason to remember you.

Take the time to actually put on paper what your marketing plan is, even if its super basic. Remember that there are 3 areas you can focus on:

owned media: Anything that you own or operate. Usually your website and social media accounts or email list – do everything you can to make these awesome and super super easy to use.

earned media: any mention of you that you don't own or pay for. Usually this is if an outlet mentions you or some 3rd part validates you. Reach out to media outlets and just email them saying you a start up company and if they ever want a story of local start ups you are available. Find publications about certain hobbies that have access to certain communities and ask if you can just come for free to talk about that hobby (free value!).

paid media: any ads you pay for. What is the trouble with tracking? Is this for Facebook? Yes, make sure to hire a design to make your ads – it will make a huge difference.
The troubles are with tracking how many paid visitors to our website actually buy anything. Immediately or later. No idea how to do it yet. We can track visitors, adding to cart, checkout etc, but we can't link any conversion to a particular ad campaign / traffic source. Marketing analytics and tracking feels like black magic to me even though I'm a software engineer. Though I mostly focused om making the website better / responsive / easier to use etc over the last year. I need to finish up some stuff and then I can focus on better analytics and maybe finally understand it some more 😀
Idontwanttospeak ✍️
It is a bit of black magic. I actually think attribution is one of the biggest if not the biggest challenge. I would definitely recommend talking to someone who works in "Ad Operations" or "AdOps" – these are the agency people whose sole job is setting up tracking like this for every campaign. I think the first thing you have to understand is how attribution windows work. Each platform has its own window and definitions for what is and is not considered a conversion (and it gets confusing quickly). It's complicated stuff for me too and I really think that if you paid an AdOps specialist for like 3 hours of their time, it would move the needle for you in terms of being to track what you want back to campaigns. Ask them about how the platforms track conversions by campaign, how Google analytics goals can be set up to track the same and what their recommendation should be on the best source of truth.
This is what I struggle with too! We use Google tag manager and UTMs but its not always consistent and hard to say who our audience is from a particular ad and what actions they took once they got to our landing page.
Idontwanttospeak ✍️
Definitely work with an Ad Ops specialist. Ask them to help you set up conversion goals for your paid media and then different user flow paths that you can save to see who triggered those conversions and from which channel. They should be able to set this up rather quickly.

What do you see as the most important fundamentals for a marketer to know and be comfortable with? Branding and positioning?

Idontwanttospeak ✍️
I think some basic things would be:

• Start with brand. It's a long process but it's crucial. A lot of people starting out think marketing is just advertising and then run Google ads with no results. Start with the brand. Build out your brand book and make sure every can recite it from memory.

• When you are read to start external marketing, do not fall into the trap of one or two tactic. Some people start marketing by just running Facebook ads or something and then spend 100% of their time trying to optimize it. Think more strategically, you are trying to reach people, not create Facebook ads, and there are a thousand ways to reach people online and offline. Continuously zoom out and ask what else you could be doing differently.

• If you can't measure it then you don't know it.

Thank you!
Idontwanttospeak ✍️
You're welcome!

How do you measure success and failure in branding? How much % of the total budget do you usually allocate for branding? What are the general main criterias for a successful branding campaign?

Idontwanttospeak ✍️
At the campaign level you can measure brand awareness through brand lift studies if you are selling online or geo-left tests if you are selling something IRL. The brand lift studies will look at things like ad recall, brand awareness, and action intent. The geo-lift tests looks at incremental sales data and foot traffic.

At the business level, you might measure success by how much earned media you get, or how fast your social media grows, or other higher level metrics.

For the % of branding on a campaign, that depends on your audience and product. Does everyone know you or what your product does? Is your product really expensive and need more frequency? Or is it something everyone needs? I would say that it is best practice to always have a brand campaign on. Leave it on, all year, updated it every quarter. Then match intent and conversion campaigns on top of those brand campaigns throughout the year. You'll need branding campaigns for sure but the weighting of the budget towards it is dependent on your situation.

Thank you for taking the time to reply!

First of all, this post is invaluable! Such golden nuggets! My background is in marketing, communications, Public Relations (PR), and social media. I graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree in Marketing and Economics with a concentration in Entrepreneurial Studies (double major) in 1999. My latest roles were as a Marketing Consulting for a non-profit 501(c)(3), as a Director of Marketing, Copywriting, and Public Relations for a podcast/show, and as a Social Media Manager for a mental health radio show with over 12MM listeners, all contract and freelance roles – from January < year > to January < year >. Previously, I worked full-time from < year >-< year >. However, due to personal reasons and being a caregiver for my parents, I have a huge gap on my resume from August < year >-December < year >, even though I include being a caregiver the entire time on my resume, as well as on my LinkedIn profile. I know this isn't the typical question you've been answering, but what is your advice on the best way to handle this because there is so much conflicting information out there? I would greatly appreciate any feedback you can offer, as you are super knowledgeable regarding the marketing and communications industries, and I desperately need advice! Thanks in advance!
Thank you, OP for starting such an interesting and widely misunderstood topic!

I would love to hear your advice on something I have been struggling with but I am too shy to ask about it because I feel that is far too simplistic and definitely way below to someone as experienced as yourself.

I am a freelance photographer/videographer and I do not know how to advertise my work to land more clients.

I am in a niche location (Hawaii) and have a few dozen shoots worth of advertising content as well as a few video projects with very well-known music artists. I currently have zero social media presence and all my projects have been attained through word of mouth.

What would you feel would be the most effective way for me to market my services and would you have any material that you would be willing to refer me to read and learn from?

I am not completely computer illiterate but I am definitely way behind on how advertising on social media works now days and would very much appreciate your insight.

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