There’s a phrase I like that summarizes the way I think about advertising in regards to generating sales and solving business problems: The best way to kill a bad business is good advertising. It may seem counterintuitive but it’s true: what we do as advertisers never provides a single silver bullet or cure-all that can fix the problems that may be inherent to a company’s product or services. Advertising is often a major ingredient, but not necessarily the total solution because if effective advertising drives people to your business and the experience is not what they were promised, those leads are very likely to dry up and eventually disappear.
When looking at a sales funnel, it’s important to take a step back as a business owner and be hyper-focused on filling the holes that are inevitably there, whether they be in the product itself, customer service, the customer experience, website, sales strategy, or anywhere else. Your sales funnel doesn’t have to be perfect, but the more holes you can plug within the funnel the better your results will be. Advertising’s main purpose is to fill the funnel (yes, it helps the funnel in other ways, but awareness is its primary objective.) When you combine a more “watertight” funnel with a good method of filling it, you always end up with better results.
Marketing and advertising are critical resources no matter what the business is. But they will only be one part of a reason that a company has success and never the sole reason. Think of it this way: the sales funnel is the engine in a car. Marketing & advertising are just one piece and if one piece is broken, the rest of the engine won’t function properly.
If there are issues within the sales funnel, spending more on advertising won’t solve a client’s problem. In fact, any good advertiser should refuse to increase ad budget if that money could be used to address costly holes in a company’s product, service, or process. Advertisers should be invested in the long game: if the money that would have gone to ad spend can be used instead to increase the client’s overall revenue, the client’s expenses won’t go up and they’ll solve critical problems. Once the problem is solved, additional attention may then be paid to advertising.
Bottom line: advertising and marketing give you opportunities but it does not create success on their own. What you do for other people is baked into the fabric of your company and when you approach issues from a problem-solving perspective and develop products & services of a certain quality, marketing, and advertising open doors.
As advertising professionals, it’s morally right for us to share ideas and be frank with our clients about the issues that we see within the other components of the sales funnel. I refer to this as kind boldness. Even if those ideas don’t see an immediate profit for the advertising agency, everything works holistically. Sometimes, it’s about problem-solving alone. It’s also more enjoyable and easier to keep clients that you have these organic relationships with because insights and well-executed strategy make clients happy and feel like you are in their corner.
At Ethic Advertising Agency, we believe that what we do is a vital, important service. We make trust and relationships the center of our approach to our partnership. We like to serve as an extension of our clients’ teams because when we are collaborating, we’re matching the DNA of the organization and that drives better results. This often means, talking about solutions we don’t provide, and guiding companies to make what we believe is the best business decision even if it means they don’t use our services..yet…
This approach is inherent to our company’s identity. Often, we will take the time to do initial conversations without a fee because, while there isn’t always a financial benefit, there is a lot of value in helping and creating relationships. This is part of our culture and our own marketing strategy. We view our work not just as profitable but also as purposeful. It turns out, there are a lot of opportunities out there when you don’t expect anything in return.
When you put yourself out there as a giving thought leader, you make yourself a magnet and the more magnetized you are, the more opportunities you may have. The agency and its team have to open themselves up to those possibilities because it strengthens the business. This only works if you truly expect nothing in return and treat those situations as a pure gift, because the potential clients are giving you their time, and time is the most precious thing that we have.
The time that you invest in these relationships may not be immediately profitable, but people are very willing to revisit your organization when they finally do have the budget and structure for advertising or if they can refer you to someone they know looking for the services that you provide. When you have that giving mentality and can provide the work and results to back up your altruistic attitude, success will come in one form or another.
About Jeff Swartz
Jeff Swartz is the CEO and founder of Ethic Advertising Agency in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Ethic is a hyper-targeted digital advertising and creative agency that specializes in video, animation, graphic design, and audio production. Digitally, Ethic also specializes in hyper-targeted programmatic (display, OTT, video pre-roll, digital audio), search engine marketing/pay per click, paid social media advertising, Google Grants, and native.
Ethic’s mission is to be a catalyst for happy, profitable partnerships through advertising and creative solutions. They also bring a holistic strategic approach to the table and still recommend and buy traditional advertising mediums when appropriate. It’s all about doing the right thing for their clients.
Video is an important part of any marketing strategy, but what types of videos should be created to convert potential buyers into customers and when should they be used?
Potential buyers flow through a funnel consisting of the four stages outlined in the graphic below:
While potential buyers move through your marketing funnel, they are simultaneously moving through a “funnel” of their own – called the Buyer’s Journey. There are three stages to the Buyer’s Journey that correspond with the first three stages of your marketing funnel:
Attract – Awareness
Convert – Consideration
Close – Decision
Stage 1: Attract
During the awareness (attract) stage, your buyer is identifying a problem that they have and researching solutions. Consider these types of videos during this stage:
TV Commercial – Television commercials can broadcast locally or nationally and offer dozens of demographically targeted television networks and thousands of shows. Your potential buyers will see and remember your name during the programs they enjoy most. This means that you can distribute your commercial on the biggest networks to a very select audience.
Online Commercial – Video and display advertising on the websites your potential buyers visit every day extends your advertising reach, increases brand awareness, and drives traffic to your website. You can target your audience based on demographic, geographic and, behavioral data and show your video alongside captive audiences watching content online and on demand.
How-To / Educational Videos – Share your knowledge about a specific topic with potential buyers who are seeking answers to their problems. How-To / Educational Videos are especially effective at attracting prospects through organic search on Google and YouTube.
Stage 2: Convert
During the consideration (convert) stage, your buyer is aware of their problem and is actively looking for a solution. They have shown interest in you but may not be ready to commit just yet. Your job is to show them exactly why your product or service is what they need. Consider these types of videos during this stage:
Explainer Videos – Explainer Videos are a wonderful way to explain to your potential buyers how your product or service works and gives them a better idea of how it can solve their problem. These videos often take complex ideas and distill them down so that they’re easier to digest.
FAQ Videos – FAQ Videos educate your potential buyers by answering the most asked questions about your product or service. These types of videos are a terrific way to answer any lingering questions your buyers may have before they make their final decision.
Brand Videos – Brand Videos showcase your company, the products, or services you offer, and your values to connect with potential buyers. They are a fantastic way to build trust with your buyers and show them the emotional and human side of your business, which they may not have been exposed to yet.
Stage 3: Close
The decision (close) stage of the Buyer’s Journey is their final stage. Consider the following videos to help your potential buyers feel more confident in their investment:
Case Study Videos – Case Study Videos tell your prospective buyer how you have helped others with specific facts and figures. Rather than focusing directly on your product or service, a good case study tells the story of your customer from their point of view — and how your product or service has helped to solve their problems.
Testimonial Videos – Video Testimonials provide the peace of mind that buyers are looking for by providing them with success stories of satisfied customers who have had experience with your company.
Personalized Videos – Personalized Videos can add that final push to purchase by pulling on social cues to gain insight into a buyer’s tastes, all the while incorporating your brand to create a one-of-a-kind video just for them.
Stage 4: Delight
Once you have acquired a customer, it is important to continue serving them content to retain them and foster repeat business.
Thank You Videos – Thank You videos are a unique way of making your customers feel appreciated! They are not expecting anything after they have purchased, so these videos tend to be a pleasant surprise and go a long way when the customer is considering your product or service again in the future.
UpSell Videos – Once your customer has purchased your product or service, this type of video is a wonderful way to generate additional income by highlighting complementary products or services that align with the one they have just purchased.
Video Updates – Video Updates keep your existing customers connected with your brand after the service has been executed and the final invoice has been paid. Posting frequent updates about new features or upcoming events via your blog, social media or email marketing is a terrific way to stay on top of your customer’s mind.
There are many ways to get your message out to your audience. Just remember, videos show – rather than tell – potential buyers about your unique selling points.
Now that you are better informed on which types of videos to use during specific stages of the Buyer’s Journey – go out there and create some engaging and inspiring content!
Brandon Roudebush is the Founder of Pixelab Studios, a full-service video production company located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. At Pixelab Studios, our mission is to empower businesses of any size to create high-quality video marketing content that’s both effective and affordable, providing nothing but the best customer experience to every client. We provide clarity to what is often viewed as a complicated and intimidating process with streamlined workflows, clear communication, and affordable pricing – all with your brand’s growth in mind! We specialize in corporate, commercial, web, and event video production within the Pittsburgh region and beyond.
It was just slightly over 2 years ago that Bellevue resident, business owner, and friend Scott Streit reached out to me regarding a new building he purchased. Scott purchased a storefront property on Bellevue’s main business corridor, Lincoln Avenue. His vision was to transform his building into a property that signaled local ownership and investment as well as revitalization in the community. He didn’t quite know how that transformation would occur, so he reached out to me for some ideas. My recommendation was to produce a mural on the side of his building that was designed, painted, and installed by and for the community.
As a board member of Bona Fide Bellevue, a community development corporation that focuses on Bellevue’s revitalization and my background in public arts marketing and funding, Scott was immediately on board with the mural. I contacted my friend Jennie Denton of Lamplight Creative to put some ideas together for Scott’s space and she turned around two amazing designs. Soon after, I set up an IOBY fundraiser to raise the $2,000 we needed to produce the mural. We formalized it by calling it the “Bellevue Mural Arts Program.”
Marketing the fundraiser may have been an arduous challenge had it not been for some research work my business partner in +Public, Kent Kerr, and I completed for his master’s thesis. As graphic designers, we knew that to produce the best outcomes, you had to design for your audience. One of the best ways to learn about your audience, especially in the civic/community context, is to recruit residents and business owners into design charettes that produce the data we need to make strategic decisions. Though out work, we realized that Bellevue had a large appetite for public art and that the market could bear $25-$150 donations per person. The ability to fundraise effectively and efficiently came into focus.
We set up our fundraiser through IOBY, a civic-focused fundraising platform. We advertised the fundraiser primarily via three-specific channels: Facebook, E-Mail, and Word of Mouth. Each member of the team wrote posts emphasizing the different aspects and benefits of the project on their personal profiles and in community groups. The enthusiastic reactions we each received was inspiring.
Through the IOBY platform, we were able to raise the $2,000 we needed within 2 and a half weeks. Having met our goal before the deadline, we collectively felt optimistic and justified that our research was accurate. We were going to make a mural! However, further serendipity hit our project and through IOBY we were the recipient of a matching arts grant which ultimately brought our fundraising to $4,919.
With our fundraiser being completed in December 2019 and being a huge success for all stakeholders, we could then focus on the production of the mural for a spring launch. However, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and effectively put our project on hold for another year and a half. All the capital, awareness, and expectations that we built through our marketing efforts were at risk of being lost due to long-term inactivity. Fortunately, throughout the duration of the pandemic there were few complaints and most people understood that if we were going to do this right, we had to it right the first time – and safely. Still, we wanted to keep public enthusiasm as high as we could.
During the pandemic, we had sporadic events and updates that supported our marketing. Our focus was on community building through affinity. Through Bona Fide Bellevue, we created a Community Arts Committee, a Public Arts Inventory, and offered a few webinars for volunteers and other stakeholders to learn about the history and future of the project. The Community Arts Committee was intended to spur and sustain conversations about how public art could manifest in Bellevue and empowering artists to put ideas forward to the artistic community with hopes of collaboration. The Public Arts Inventory, while even to this day is still in its infancy, is a record of all the physical places that public art could be placed. Garage walls, cement steps, sidewalks, building walls, open green spaces, and more. The Webinars covered both the committee and inventory, but also the genesis of the project and where it will go once, we were able to safely paint. We recorded all our efforts and made each of the assets publicly available. Once you start down this path, you can’t turn around – and when motivation is high, you need to sustain it and nudge it forward to create proof. When it comes to the promise of public art, I firmly believe that most people do not believe anything will happen until they see tangible proof. Ultimately, these efforts did sustain our marketing.
When it came time to start painting, we had to consider the cache of engagement we built up throughout the pandemic. We started a Bellevue Mural Arts Program Facebook group so we could collect volunteers and stakeholders in one place. We secured space to paint in the art studios (also known as “The Cove”) at Greenstone Church. We held a community painting day that had about 40 people, ages 3-65, show up to paint. We asked volunteers to signal-boost their experience by offering a testimonial post on their Facebook profiles, which sought to recruit more people into painting. It was critical that our mural maintain its concept of being painted by and for the community.
On November 6, the mural was installed. Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn posts saw hundreds of likes across several people’s posts. People who followed me or Scott or Jennie on these social platforms, but were not from Bellevue, were actively engaged and invested in the story of the mural. Now that we’ve installed the mural, people are asking, and rightfully so “what’s next?”
The Bellevue Mural Arts Program marketing started as a small grassroots social media campaign that evolved into community building that evolved into storytelling that converted followers from Bellevue and other locations into stakeholders. The narrative formula we utilized throughout this process was based on three core ideals: be visual, be personal, and be positive. Whenever we made a post, attach an image of the mural artwork or as it existed in-progress. Tether your personal feelings to that artwork, giving it soul and purpose beyond creative expression. Be positive, as the pandemic has made quick work in cutting down positivity across the board.
So – what’s next? Get people to the mural to take photos in front of it and post to social media. The social proof that can be created from this will hopefully bring people into the Bellevue community to visit, enjoy our amenities, and make a few friends…and probably starting a new mural.
When I’ve thought of traditional marketing in the past, I’ve thought of a person with a very large megaphone a few inches away from my face trying to get me to pay attention to them. I can remember distinctly when I started to think of marketing as more of a relationship.
I was at a conference and this speaker was going on and on about tactics and tricks to get people’s attention. All I could think to myself was, “why don’t you just tell them how you’re helping?”
As I continued to ask myself this question, I started to ask the same question to our clients. The reality is that more small businesses start from a need or a passion but very few present it in a way that connects with their audience. So every site that we create tells the story with the user in mind and it goes something like this:
Intro: What does your business do?
Empathy: We understand where you’re coming from because we were there
Solution: This is why we created this product/service to help
Action: See how
If you are a visual person here is a quick video outline of the page structure I ran through on LinkedIn.
When you frame it more like you’re having a conversation or if you’re trying to build a relationship, then using a “cold” channel like a website doesn’t feel like someone is talking at me, but to me.
Here is an example of how we put that into action for our clients:
Here at RedTree, we use the word brand instead of marketing. By focusing on the brand for ourselves and our clients, we throw the megaphone away and start to have a conversation between businesses and consumers about problems and solutions. With this as the foundation of everything that we do, success is inevitable.
Hi there! I’m Zack Duncan. As the owner and sole full-time employee of a small digital marketing company, I have no excuse not to market my business.
But I’ve generally been terrible at it for the majority of the 5 years that I’ve had Root and Branch Group.
It’s only been over the past year or so that I’ve actually gotten serious about our marketing. There always seemed to be more pressing priorities with client work, and it was hard to carve out the time. Plus, it didn’t sound really fun to me.
So, what changed?
My mindset changed.
I don’t like “selling” but I do enjoy teaching. I’ve been an instructor at Pitt for several years, and it’s been an amazing gift to get to teach students who are interested in learning. I’ve borrowed that same approach to marketing for Root and Branch. So now, instead of thinking about marketing as pitching consulting and training services for things like SEO, Google Analytics, and digital strategy, I create instructional content and share it online.
What were the results?
As you can see in the screenshot below from Google Analytics, traffic to the Root and Branch website from organic search (SEO) began to increase in late 2020 after I started getting serious about training content.
In August of 2021 compared to 2020, organic search traffic is up over 1,000% from about 7 – 8 visits a day to over 100 visits a day. These visitors are almost all finding Root and Branch because they are looking for a specific marketing problem that I’ve created (SEO-optimized) content to help answer. Some of these people will be fine figuring it out on their own after reading the article, but some others will want to connect for a paid training or consulting arrangement to learn more.
What do I do specifically for this content marketing?
I create blog content on the Root and Branch website once or twice a month. Each blog provides answers to questions my audience is looking to address and links to other related content. How do I know what people are looking for? That’s part of the SEO “keyword research” process and there are tools available like Moz, Ahrefs, Google Trends, and more to help. So, if I identity “how much does Local SEO cost in 2021?” as a high opportunity keyword, I’ll create content that answers the question. The same thing goes for more exploratory topics like the similarities and differences between the legacy version of Google Analytics (Universal Analytics) compared to the new Google Analytics 4.
Once a month I will also review the performance of preexisting content and see if there are new search trends that I can borrow to refresh the content. Google Search Console is the perfect tool for this job. Refreshing older content makes it more useful to readers and also improves the value (and the rank!) in the eyes of Google.
Depending on the topic, I might also create a short instructional video to explain a concept like on-page SEO optimization or to provide a walkthrough of how to set up a platform like Google Analytics. As the second biggest search engine in the world, this YouTube content will also be found by people looking to get their questions answered.
It’s been slower to grow on YouTube, but the channel is up to ~900 or so views per month and 25 – 30 hours of watch time.
Mostly, it’s just been fun and I’m looking forward to seeing where it might go.
Zack is the Digital Marketing Executive in Residence at the University of Pittsburgh and the President of Root and Branch Group. He provides SEO and analytics coaching for companies and directly manages monthly retainer clients in paid search, SEO, and analytics.
He’s a big fan of the local Pittsburgh beer scene and would be equally happy to talk about Dancing Gnome vs. Grist House as he would be to chat about on-page SEO vs. National SEO. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.
And if you’re interested in digital marketing tips and perspectives, you can follow Root and Branch on Linked In or subscribe to the Root and Branch YouTube channel.
The word “marketing” can have different meanings depending on who you’re talking to. Some may have connotations of savvy business people in a boardroom with easels of logos and catchphrases and commercial pitches. Which, yes, is a form of marketing. To me, however, marketing is more intimate. When I think of how marketing applies to my day-to-day, I’m thinking of a visitor’s experience on a website. I’m thinking of a person waiting in line, quickly scrolling through a website on their phone trying to find something specific. I’m thinking of a technically challenged visitor and how to make their interaction easier. I’m thinking of my audience.
When starting a website design project, one question is always, “Who is the audience?” The answer to this question plays a large role in my process of organizing all the pieces. Knowing what the visitor wants, needs, and limitations help to shape the look, feel, and user experience the of site. What are they looking for? How do we make sure they find it and know what to do with it when they do? How can we engage them further?
Using the answers to these questions, and many others, as well as designing for accessibility, clear hierarchy, and calls to action are all part of marketing. Seeing the completed execution of meaningful engagement, guided visitor flow, and measurable results on an aesthetically pleasing responsive site is one of my measures of success.