Advertising has Changed

Advertising has changed a lot in the last few years. It’s not just the rise of social media (and with it, ‘social proof’), but the depth of usable data at savvy marketers’ fingertips has moved the game along.

Print, radio and television (let’s call them ‘old media’) deliver a poor ROI for most businesses, yet agencies continue to push them because there’s too much profit in them not to. In addition, the metrics they rely on are flaky at best, so transparency and accountability are also low.

Agencies love this. But companies who want measurable results hate it, which is why they’re leaving in droves.

Old media struggles because the only way it gets attention is by interrupting its audience. This worked really well thirty years ago but has worked less well in the last ten.

Today, for SMEs at least, it’s a waste of time and money – unless it’s linked to digital media with measurable output. Millennials – those born in the 80’s – almost completely ignore old media.

Today, smart marketers concentrate on delivering value, and building reputation and trust within their particular niche, where their target audience already gathers.

One-on-One with Big Influencers

To rise above mediocrity and fuel fresh interest in your offerings, you need to go where the influence is. That means getting closer to your top clients and telling them we want to create stuff that excites them.

It means listening to their pain points, discovering how things could be revolutionised, then developing a few projects around these findings.

The point is not to create exactly what they want. The point is three-fold:

  1. Develop new ideas that could give you an edge.
  2. Build relationships with top influencers in the market.
  3. Leverage that influence when you return with your product or service.

If you create solutions for the early-adopters who like to use new technology for competitive advantage – they will sell it to the early and late majority for you. Not you.

The key distinction here is that the early majority and the majority ignore you. They don’t make time to consider new technologies, so they take their cues from the influential innovators and early adopters who spread great ideas; much like a virus gets spread.

Your Client Avatar

Sit down with the people in your business that have the most intimate understanding of your most influential clients, and define our ideal client avatar. This is a fictionalised persona of your ideal client – their pain points, their influencers, their desires and limitations.

This avatar will form the basis for all your marketing programs. When you know exactly whom you’re talking to, it becomes much easier to craft messages that resonate with them and inspire action.


Trade Events

If you’re operating in a mature market where there’s little differentiation, you might still benefit from engaging with key trade events. But you need to go to them with a story – simply showing up isn’t enough.

And your story had better be compelling and clearly targeted, too. If you try to be something to everyone, you’ll end up appealing to no one.

Well before each event, make a firm decision about your story, what you’re promoting, why you’re doing it (from a metric standpoint) and how. These events are expensive and consume considerable resources. If you’re going to play, you need to make them pay.


To date, LinkedIn remains the go-to platform for B2B engagement.

With over 430M users, they dominate the online B2B space. Audience targeting is fairly granular, the cost per engagement is very low (compared to industry events and print), and of course, you can measure the ROI.

Some examples of targeting options are:

  • Geolocation
  • Industry
  • Company size
  • Job seniority
  • Job title
  • Job function
  • Member groups
  • Audience matching
  • Audience expansion based on data matching

There’s also the opportunity to do A/B split testing, something you can’t do with events. This can help you to define what’s working and what isn’t.

Costs per click-through range from $2 to $10, depending on targeting and competition levels. The minimum daily budget is $10. You have two options with LinkedIn:

  1. Text ads – much like Google Adwords ads, these appear in the top right corner of the LinkedIn desktop. These have a very low CPM (cost per 1,000 impressions), but the CTR (click-through rate) is also very low, at around 0.02%. The conversion rate on these is higher, probably because people know they’re ads so they expect to engage at a commercial level.
  2. Sponsored posts – almost identical to native LinkedIn posts, these appear in the same location as the native content. These have a higher CPM but benefit from a much better CTR, at around 1%. Sponsored posts are much better than text ads for building visibility, reputation and trust.

Sponsored posts can be replicated on your Website as blog posts and used in email marketing messages, too. And it’s not much of a stretch to simplify and re-purpose them for other channels, too – like Facebook.

The traffic you generate from LinkedIn can be tracked through analytics software and the leads emanating from campaigns sent to a dedicated landing page on your site (with the requisite call-to-action), in line with the campaign messaging.


Facebook is the new darling of advertising. The level of reach and engagement is very high, the granularity with which you can target (and retarget) prospects is very fine, and the CTR is solid, too.

Here are two recent campaigns:

  • Example 1: A 10-day campaign with a $150 spend yielded a targeted reach of 10,137 and 495 clicks. That’s a CTR of 4.9% at a cost per click of 30 cents. Peanuts.
  • Example 2: A 5-day campaign with a $120 spend yielded a targeted reach of 7,669 and 245 clicks. That’s a CTR of 3.2% at a cost per click of 49 cents.


Organic search is still the single biggest source of traffic to many Websites. Ranking on Google calls more than 200 variables into play, most of which Google won’t reveal. The big ones though are:

  • Content relevance to search queries (content marketing is key here)
  • Quality and diversity of external sites linking to you
  • Content quality (including grammar, readability, length (over 1,000 words is best), imagery, structure, media usage, uniqueness, etc.
  • Site update frequency (goes to credibility and relevance)
  • Page count (credibility)
  • Mobile responsiveness (usability)
  • On-page technical correctness (proper use of metadata, an absence of duplicate content, correct use of redirects, etc.)


Advertising isn’t what it used to be, and that’s a good thing. Thanks to the fact that people willingly self-report on their professional and personal lives, the opportunities to leverage this data is better than ever.

It’s a match made in heaven. Individuals define their lives online, and we target those who matter to us with content that, by their own definition, is most relevant to them.

With 1.87 billion on Facebook and 106 million on LinkedIn, it’s a no-brainer.

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