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Don't know where to start or did your ads fail?

How to Launch a Successful Ad Campaign for Your Business

What's a "Good Ad"?

More often than not, business owners want to start advertising their business and think that it's as simple as plugging into an outlet such as Google, Social Media, Print Ads, Banner Ads, etc., or similar to generate a sea of infinite leads. In an ideal world, everyone who needs your product or service would instantly be connected with you, but that doesn't happen. The idea of your ad should not be to simply connect with new leads but to have an offer that solves something for them, shows that you are different, and allows them to act upon something for a desired outcome.


Think of the marketing that you have responded to in your life - it typically targets a particular problem, solution, and outcome. Let's get this out of the way - the authors of this guide do not run ads for our clients, but we have partnered with marketing companies that work with the largest brands on the planet, startups, and even small businesses. The reality is that anyone can do their marketing, they just don't typically do it right. Let's start with trying to understand the makeup of an ad, and why your ad might have (or already has) failed.

Problem - P

This is the core starting point of your ad, the pain points your customer faces. Most often in the world of business, people buy solutions, not products or services. You hire a CPA because you don't want to do your taxes, you hire a landscaper because you're too busy, and you hire a personal trainer because you don't exercise on your own. Targeting pain is more powerful than telling people what you do. It feels direct and relatable - ask yourself this - how many things could you solve with your product or service, and for whom?


Do you have [problem]?


Do you have [back pain]?


Tells the customer who it's for

Solution - S

This is the dream outcome of getting your product or service. Imagine you had a megaphone in a crowd, you start by announcing your target demographic to weed out those who don't need what you sell with the pain point first, and then your solution is the response to that announcement with your ideal outcome. You might offer personal training services to everyone, but an ad that talks about solving back pain is better than an ad that simply tells people that you are a personal trainer. Emotions get the best of us, take advantage of that in your ad.


I have [solution]!


I provide [physical therapy]!


Tells the customer the outcome

Offer - O

This is the most often misunderstood and important portion of your ad. Imagine if you sold a pill that you could take and become instantly ripped overnight while losing fat, you'd be able to sell it to anyone! The reality is unless you have your unique value upfront, your ad won't work. You are competing with other businesses in your market, the spending power of your customers, and other offers in the market. You need to have an offer that is highly compelling, easy to understand, and fits the market you're in. Start with the unique value you provide, and package it into a sentence.


Here's our [offer]


We offer [a special intro rate]!


Informs customer of value

Call to Action - CTA

The interaction is how they act upon your ad. If you have a brick-and-mortar location, would you want customers to come to it if it was dusty, dirty, hard to find, and only accepted cash? Likewise, a confusing website or landing page will make your ad fail. You need to make it easy, fast, and engaging to get started - otherwise, the whole process falls apart. In today's world, that means multiple ways to find you, buy from you and act on the offer. If you run an ad that dumps the customer on your homepage without any steps on what to do next, it will fail. Be easy to work with!


Get started by [do something]


Get started by [booking online]!


Entices customer

Advertising 101: The DNA of a Stellar Ad

Actionable Items & Keytake Aways:

  1. Problem Identification (P)

    • Action: Start your ad by identifying a relatable, widespread issue related to your offering. Think of as many ways that your product or service relates to these issues.

    • Example: "Tired of losing your keys?"

  2. Solution Offering (S)

    • Action: Present your solution to the problem. Think of all the ways that your product or service could solve something, for someone, and the bigger the impact, the easier the sale.

    • Example: "Try our key-finding gadget!"

  3. Offer (O)

    • Action: Clearly articulate the value of your solution and what the investment is. Think of what would be so compelling to a buyer, and make it so easy to understand they would be stupid to say no.

    • Example: "Our gadget saves time and reduces stress, get your first one for 20% off with free shipping!"

  4. Call to Action (CTA)

    • Action: Encourage a specific, immediate action. This action needs to be as simple, fast, and understandable as possible. 

    • Example: "Click this button to order from our store via Apple Pay and get peace of mind."


Overall Takeaway: A successful ad is a well-orchestrated narrative that starts with a common problem, introduces a solution, highlights the unique value of this solution, and culminates with a compelling call to action. It's about crafting a story that anyone can understand and relate to, leading them naturally from a problem they recognize to an actionable solution. The aim is to create a journey that feels personal and relevant, guiding the audience towards a clear, desirable outcome.

What Causes Ads to Fail?

In the crowded ad landscape, it's easy for messages to be drowned out. Here, we focus on typical mistakes leading to ineffective advertising. We're discussing real issues - from blending in too much, and failing to understand what truly matters to your audience, to being all talk and no action. Many businesses believe throwing more money into marketing is key to paying the bills.


However, the readiness for marketing is often overlooked, and it's not just about handling leads, budget, or timing - it's about doing the necessary research for a more impactful ad. Unless you have unlimited money, you cannot sustain pouring more money into your ads (especially because even when this works, if you raise your marketing budget, you now need the same amount of money to sustain it), and it's most important to create the most effective ad to target customers who convert into sales the easiest by getting it right first so you can have the most optimized marketing budget.

One other thing to remember is this - it might seem obvious to try and fight on price in your ad, but you want to avoid being the cheapest option; strive to be the best. Advertising lower prices leads to a downward price war, negative perceptions of your offer, and suggests you're open to bargaining. Even value-focused brands like GoodWill or Walmart have their niches. They showcase their value clearly and offer a straightforward shopping experience.

Let's discuss how why ads fail and how to create the most effective ad.

You're Too Generic

Let's get this out of the way - no one cares until you give them a reason to. Don't assume that anyone knows anything about what you offer, ask yourself "who needs this?". There are millions of ads on Facebook right now for landscaping, realtors, cleaners, repairmen, etc. and almost all of them are the same thing. You need to define your customers to communicate to the people who need what you provide the most and speak their language. Put your ego aside and objectively look at your business - what makes you different, what would I get from using what you offer and why should I care? This is the reason that a personal trainer for golf players who need to improve their swing will be far more successful, make more money, and be easier to understand than a generic personal trainer. It's best to be good at fixing something versus trying to be good at everything.

You're Value is Poor

If people don't understand why they should give you money, nor do they understand why what you provide is valuable to them, they will not reach out. Value can be purely transactional (buy a sandwich, be full) or perceived (buy a puppy, be happier) - but either way, it needs to be understood. If nobody knows what you do and more importantly why it matters, then why would they pay for it? Stop trying to act like everyone knows what makes you valuable, and start telling everyone why it matters. If you do anything better behind the scenes, put that front and center in your ads, website, outlets, etc. Look at yourself in the 3rd person, why would you give yourself money, and for what outcome? You need to understand your customers' problems, then you can provide them with a value proposition based on that desire. Try to tell someone in 30-seconds, what you do and why.

You're Hard to Buy

Customers seek shortcuts and act on immediate needs like impulse, hunger, or pain. Previously, the competition was local on Main Street or in the phone book. Now, the internet exposes them to global options. Once they know about your service or product, they easily find and compare others. Why are Netflix, and Zoom part of a trillion-dollar industry? Because they're easy to buy from unlike a video rental store or renting a conference room for a meeting. Remember that having "call or email us for a quote" is work, while "buy online instantly" is a solution. Consider your website or other outlets, and how customers find you, start using your offering, pay for it, and understand it. Make it so simple a 3rd grader could buy it. Any difficulty in these areas is a barrier. If you can give them the outcome faster, easier, or simpler - you raise to the top.

You're Not Relevant

Defining your customer avatar is key for effective ads. For example, selling organic skincare? Your ideal customer might be eco-conscious, 30s, into natural ingredients, and in a higher income bracket. This detailed profiling goes beyond demographics, targeting specific lifestyles and interests. It's your profile sheet for who needs your product or service the most. Without it, ads can become vague, unfocused, and miss the target audience, leading to low engagement and wasted money. A clear avatar ensures ads hit the people who need it most, making it easier for you to sell more, and requiring less money to be put up front on your overall marketing budget. 

You're Talking to Much

Drop the 'me, me, me' approach immediately! Common claims like superior customer service or best prices are too generic to everyone (have you ever talked to a business that says they have "bad customer service?"). Shift from self-focused narratives to a more relatable, human-centered dialogue. People prefer finding a helpful article on how to deal with a coffee spill on a laptop rather than a computer repair shop's site urging them to purchase a service. This preference stems from a desire for genuine value. Providing useful information not only addresses a part of their issue but also establishes your unique identity. It’s essential to step out of your business persona and empathize with your customers' perspectives.

Ads fail because the basics, not your business

Actionable Items & Keytake Aways:
  1. You're Too Generic:

    • Action: Address a specific problem or need in your ads.

    • Example: A home cleaning service advertises its expertise in dealing with tough pet stains and odors, appealing to pet owners who face this specific challenge.

  2. Your Value is Poor:

    • Action: Clearly demonstrate the unique benefits of your product or service.

    • Example: A smartphone brand highlights its exceptional battery life in ads, addressing a common frustration among users.

  3. You're Hard to Buy:

    • Action: Make the purchasing process to act on the ad as easy and straightforward as possible.

    • Example: A coffee shop sells its beans online via monthly subscriptions

  4. ​You're Not Relevant:

    • Action: Define the data of who needs what you offer the most - age, sex, location, interests, likes, dislikes, etc.

    • Example: A fitness app targets ads at young professionals in urban areas, focusing on quick workouts for busy schedules, aligning perfectly with their lifestyle and interests.

  5. You're Talking Too Much:

    • Action: Focus on providing value and solutions in your communication.

    • Example: A financial advisor shares informative content on managing personal finances during economic downturns, rather than just promoting their services.


Overall Takeaway: In advertising, success hinges on delivering clear, specific solutions to customer problems, showcasing the distinct value of your offerings, simplifying the purchasing process, and engaging in meaningful, solution-focused communication. By honing in on these aspects, your ads can effectively capture and retain the attention of your target audience, leading to higher engagement and conversions while also allowing you to spend less on ads.

From You vs. For You Marketing

Trends in marketing always shift over time, and the most relevant one in the past decade has been the distinction between from-you vs. for-you marketing. The idea is that you have two pathways - marketing that comes directly from the source (your business) or marketing that leverages someone else's brand (typically another outlet, person, the news, social media influencers, etc.). Each has distinctive advantages and disadvantages, but the most important thing that splits them is the perceived tonality. Think of our day-to-day interactions, you'd be far more likely to trust someone in your circle with a recommendation for a restaurant than you might be if you saw an ad for that restaurant in your feed. The main idea behind from is you is that you can create a sense of trust if done right, but you still have to have something of value, while you allow some types of businesses to skip this all together and leverage someone else's trust.

From You

What It Is & How It Works:

  • It's like you're talking directly to your customers. Imagine you own a coffee shop and you're telling your regulars about a new espresso blend you've got. This is traditional marketing 101, you pick the topic, you pick the deal, you pick the outlet, etc. It typically requires more work on the part of the owners or marketing team, because you have to follow a guide like this to craft a good ad so you can understand what works.


  1. You're the Boss: You decide what to say about your coffee.

  2. Building Your Brand: Customers get to know your coffee shop's personality.

  3. Chatting with Customers: It's like having a direct conversation with your coffee lovers.

  4. Price: It's almost always cheaper to do it yourself in the long run and you have more control


  1. Takes Effort: You still need to know who needs your coffee - customer, solution, market, etc.

  2. Might Miss Some Folks: Not everyone in town might hear about your coffee shop.

  3. Trust Issues: Some people might think, "Well, of course, they'll say their coffee is great – it's their shop!"


  • Posting an ad for your new espresso blend on your shop's Instagram.

  • Sending emails to your customers about a weekend coffee-tasting event.

  • Going to a local chamber event to discuss your coffee.

For You

What It Is:

  • It's like when a popular food influencer visits your coffee shop, tries your espresso, and tells their followers how awesome it is. This is a fairly recent new addition to the market landscape and requires less work for you to get going, but is typically more expensive and more risk involved because you have less control of the pieces.


  1. Reaching More People: The blogger's followers, who might never have heard of your shop, will learn about your coffee. You can sometimes get more for less (if done right)

  2. Instant Trust: People trust the blogger, so they're more likely to try your espresso.

  3. Fresh Views: The blogger might talk about your coffee in a cool, different way.

  4. Direct network: Because the blogger talks about food, they already have an audience and network you can leverage


  1. Less Control: You can't exactly tell the blogger what to say about your coffee.

  2. Cost: Sometimes, you might have to pay the blogger or give them free coffee.

  3. Backfire Risk: If the blogger says something bad, it's out there for all their followers to see.


  • A local food influencer posts about your coffee shop's cozy ambiance and unique espresso on Instagram.

  • You pay a news food columnist to include your coffee shop in a list of "Top 5 Must-Visit Coffee Spots in Town."

  • You parter with a coffee subscription company to include your beans in their "coffee of the month club box"

Are you selling it or someone else?

1. The Platform

Now that we understand what makes a good and a bad ad, we need to pick our platform to start with. This is important because each platform has unique strengths and weaknesses, and an often overlooked element: different demographics. Disclaimer - the guide is good as of 2024, yet there are new platforms, new insights, new trends, etc. that come and go (you don't see MySpace listed here for a reason), and it's important that you still do some homework to understand where each platform is trending at the time of reading this. However, these are the most utilized outlets and what you should choose based on your business type.


Advantages: Facebook is a powerhouse for reaching a wide audience. It's especially great because you can get really specific with who sees your ads, targeting them by interests, behaviors, and more. Plus, people sharing your ads can boost your reach without extra cost.


Disadvantages: But, there's a catch. With so many businesses on Facebook, your ads might get lost in the noise. And, it's worth noting that younger folks are hanging out less on Facebook these days.


Suitable for: It's a solid choice for businesses aiming to connect with a diverse age group, particularly those over 25. Whether you're selling directly to customers or other businesses, Facebook works well, especially if your products or services are visually appealing.


Other Considerations: Just keep an eye on Facebook's ever-changing rules and privacy policies to keep your ad game strong.

Example Ideal Business Type: Imagine a local boutique clothing store. It's a fantastic match for Facebook. This platform's mix of visuals and social interaction is perfect for showcasing trendy outfits, promoting in-store events, and engaging with fashion-conscious customers. The store can use targeted ads to reach locals or those with a keen interest in unique fashion finds.


Advantages: Google's vast reach and advanced targeting options provide excellent visibility for businesses. Its pay-per-click model ensures you pay only for actual engagement, and its analytics tools offer deep insights into ad performance.


Disadvantages: The platform can be highly competitive, especially for popular keywords, leading to higher advertising costs. Additionally, success on Google requires understanding SEO and SEM strategies, which might require specialized knowledge or resources.


Suitable for: Google is ideal for businesses seeking to reach a wide audience, but mostly for those in e-commerce, local services, and B2B sectors. It's beneficial for companies aiming for high purchase intent traffic - i.e someone who's typing in something local, or a need for it fast.


Other Considerations: Businesses should regularly optimize their keywords and monitor their ad spend to maintain cost-effectiveness.

Example Ideal Business Type: Picture a local landscaping service. Google's advertising platform is perfect for them. They can target homeowners searching for landscaping solutions in their area. By using location-specific keywords and Google My Business, they can efficiently reach potential clients who are looking for exactly the services they offer, right in their own neighborhood.


Advantages: YouTube's extensive user base and video format allow for creative and engaging ads. Video content can be more memorable and impactful compared to other formats. The platform also offers targeting based on viewing history and interests.


Disadvantages: Producing high-quality video content can be costly and time-consuming. Additionally, users can often skip ads, potentially reducing their effectiveness.


Suitable for: Ideal for businesses with the resources to create compelling video content, such as those in entertainment, education, tech, and lifestyle sectors.


Other Considerations: Consistency and quality of content are crucial for maintaining audience engagement on YouTube.

Example Ideal Business Type: A local fitness center could excel with YouTube advertising. They can create engaging video content showcasing their facilities, fitness classes, and success stories from members. This visual medium is ideal for highlighting the energetic atmosphere and community vibe of the gym. Plus, they can target local viewers who are looking for fitness inspiration or nearby workout options, drawing them in with compelling video content.


Advantages: TikTok's format is highly engaging and allows for creative, visually driven advertising. Its algorithm favors content virality, offering significant organic reach potential. The platform is popular among younger demographics, providing access to Gen Z and younger millennials.


Disadvantages: TikTok's user base is skewed towards younger audiences, which may not be ideal for all businesses. Also, creating content that resonates on TikTok requires a specific style and creativity that may not align with all brand identities.


Suitable for: Ideal for businesses targeting younger consumers, particularly in lifestyle, fashion, entertainment, and tech industries. Brands that can create engaging, trend-driven content would thrive on this platform.


Other Considerations: Staying relevant on TikTok requires keeping up with rapidly changing trends and understanding the platform's unique content style. The main thing about TikTok is that they value authenticity over traditional ad formats.

Example Ideal Business Type: Take a trendy, health-focused snack brand aimed at Gen Z and young millennials. TikTok is their playground. It's all about engaging with a youthful audience through fun, eye-catching content that makes a snack not just a treat, but a part of their lifestyle.


Advantages: LinkedIn is a premier platform for B2B advertising, offering access to a professional audience. Its targeting capabilities are excellent for reaching decision-makers and industry-specific audiences.


Disadvantages: LinkedIn advertising can be more expensive compared to other platforms. Also, its formal and professional environment might not suit all types of creative content.


Suitable for: Best suited for B2B businesses, particularly those in industries like software, consulting, recruitment, and higher education. It's also beneficial for companies looking to establish thought leadership in their industry.


Other Considerations: Content on LinkedIn should align with professional standards and offer value to a career-focused audience.

Example Ideal Business Type: A professional training and consulting firm is a prime candidate for LinkedIn advertising. LinkedIn's professional network is ideal for them to connect with businesses and professionals seeking to enhance their skills or business processes. They can target specific industries, job roles, and even company sizes, making their advertising efforts highly focused and effective.


Advantages: The digital world is always evolving, and with it comes a host of new and alternative advertising platforms. These platforms often cater to niche audiences, providing fresh and untapped markets. They can offer innovative features and less competition, potentially giving early adopters an edge in engagement and visibility. These platforms are usually more adaptable and open to new trends, making them ideal for cutting-edge or niche marketing campaigns.


Disadvantages: The primary challenge with newer platforms is their unproven track record. They may have smaller user bases, and their longevity can be uncertain. Investing in these platforms can be a risk, as they might not yet have the established audience or robust analytics tools of more established networks. There's also a learning curve in understanding the best strategies for these evolving platforms.


Suitable for: These emerging platforms are particularly well-suited for brands that are looking to experiment with new marketing strategies, target niche markets, or establish themselves as trendsetters. They're ideal for companies that have the flexibility to adapt quickly and the willingness to explore uncharted territories in digital advertising.

Other Considerations: Staying informed about the latest digital trends is crucial when venturing into new platforms. Brands should be prepared to innovate and experiment, while also being ready to pivot if the platform doesn't perform as expected. As these platforms evolve, so should the advertising strategies used on them.

Actionable Items & Keytake Aways:

  1. Assess Your Target Audience: Understand the demographics, interests, and online behavior of your ideal customers.

    • Example: If your primary audience is young adults, platforms like TikTok or Instagram might be more effective than LinkedIn.

  2. Analyze Product/Service Suitability: Consider which platform best showcases your offerings.

    • Example: For visually appealing products, like fashion or home decor, visually-rich platforms like Instagram or Pinterest are ideal.

  3. Evaluate Platform Strengths and User Demographics: Research each platform's unique strengths and the demographics of their users.

    • Example: Facebook is great for a broad demographic, while LinkedIn is more suited for B2B audiences.

  4. Consider Budget and Resources: Determine your advertising budget and the resources (like time and skills) needed for creating content on each platform.

    • Example: Google Ads might require a larger budget and understanding of SEO, whereas Facebook might be more cost-effective and user-friendly.

  5. Stay Informed on Trends and Changes: Keep up with the latest trends and changes in social media and online advertising.

    • Example: Regularly read industry blogs or attend webinars to stay updated on new platforms or features.

  6. Test and Evaluate: Start with a small budget on your chosen platforms, test different ad formats, and evaluate their performance.

    • Example: Run similar ad campaigns on two different platforms and compare the engagement, reach, and conversion rates.

Overall Takeaway

Selecting the right advertising platform is a critical decision that depends on understanding your audience, your product/service, and each platform's unique benefits. It's not a one-size-fits-all approach; what works for one business might not work for another. Regular assessment and adaptation to changing trends and audience behaviors are essential for effective advertising. Testing different platforms and analyzing their performance will help you make informed decisions and optimize your advertising strategy for better results.

2. The Format

Once you've found the correct platform that's best suited for your business, you need to pick the correct format. For the most part, some platforms will be limited in the format you can offer, while others have more flexibility. It's important to weigh which one is best for your platform and go from there. Below we'll outline some common formats and their advantages and disadvantages.


What They Are: Simple ads made of just words, like the ones you see at the top of Google search results.


Good Points:

  • Easy and cheap to make.

  • Great for getting straight to the point.

  • Can be aimed at people searching for exactly what you offer.


Not-So-Good Points:

  • Might be overlooked next to flashier picture or video ads.

  • Need catchy words to really work.


A Real-World Example: When you Google "best coffee shop in town", the first few lines you see are often these text ads from local coffee shops.


Who Should Use Them: Businesses that want to show up when people search for what they offer, like plumbers, lawyers, or local stores. Usually local, or needed right then and there.

Where to Use Them: Google searches, Bing searches, LinkedIn for professional services.


What They Are: Ads that use pictures, like the ones you often see on Instagram or Facebook.


Good Points:

  • Catch your eye quickly.

  • Can show off a product or service really well.


Not-So-Good Points:

  • Need good-looking, professional photos.

  • Might not work as well where people expect to read more.


A Real-World Example: A photo of a delicious pizza on Instagram with a special offer from your local pizza place.


Who Should Use Them: Businesses that have something visual to show, like clothing stores, restaurants, or travel agencies.


Where to Use Them: Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and websites with space for picture ads.


What They Are: Short videos used as ads, like the ones you see before YouTube videos.


Good Points:

  • Really engaging; can tell a story or show a product in action.

  • Good for getting a lot of information across.


Not-So-Good Points:

  • More expensive and takes more time to make than text or image ads.

  • Need some skill in making good videos.


A Real-World Example: A mini-video on YouTube showing how a new smartphone works with people enjoying its features.


Who Should Use Them: Businesses that can invest in making cool videos, like tech companies, online courses, or entertainment services.


Where to Use Them: YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and websites that allow video ads.

Actionable Items & Keytake Aways:

  • Think About What You Want to Share:

    • If you've got something simple to say, like "Sale this weekend!", a text ad is quick and to the point.

    • Got a great-looking product? Show it off with an image ad.

    • If you want to tell a story or show your product in action, like how easy it is to use your new blender, go for a video ad.

    • Example: A coffee shop has a new pumpkin spice latte. They could use an image ad with a photo of the latte to get people excited.

  • Figure Out Where Your Customers Hang Out:

    • If they're always Googling things, text ads on search engines are a good idea.

    • On Instagram all the time? They'll probably see and love your image ads.

    • If they're YouTube fans, a catchy video ad could be a winner.

    • Example: A local handyman might use text ads that show up in Google searches, so people find him when they search for "fix leaky faucet near me".

  • Check Your Wallet:

    • Text ads are usually cheaper. If you're watching your budget, start here.

    • Image ads can cost a bit more, but they're great for showing off how good something looks.

    • Video ads can be the most expensive, but they're great for grabbing attention.

    • Example: A new small business selling handmade candles might start with text ads because they're more affordable.


Picking the right ad type isn't too hard. If you've got something quick to say, use a text ad. If you want to show how awesome something looks or works, go with an image or video ad. Start with what you can afford and see what your customers like best. It's all about getting the word out in a way that works for you and catches their eye.

3. The Important Details

In the realm of marketing, the success of your campaign hinges on a few critical pillars that ensure not only its effectiveness but also its integrity and compliance with established norms. Navigating these essentials is key to crafting messages that resonate with your audience while maintaining a strong ethical and legal standing. These pillars are: Be Legal, Be Real, Be Optimized, and Be Clear. Understanding and applying these principles will lay a solid foundation for any marketing strategy, regardless of your experience level in this dynamic field.

Be Legal

In marketing, it's vital to play by the rules – both legally and according to each platform's policies. Every social media site or advertising channel has its own set of dos and don'ts, which can be quite different from one another. What works on Instagram might not fly. Plus, there are the bigger legal considerations like advertising truthfully, respecting copyright, and protecting customer privacy. Keeping your marketing legal isn't just about avoiding trouble; it's about building trust and showing that you care about doing things the right way.

Bad Ad

Good Ad

  • Ad Format: Image

  • Content: An image showing the product with a big, bold claim: "Number 1 recommended by doctors!" without any actual backing or endorsement from doctors.

  • Problem: This ad falsely implies medical endorsement, which is misleading and could be illegal.

  • Ad Format: Video

  • Content: A simple video showing the product in use, with text stating, "Complies with FDA standards," and a brief mention of user reviews.

  • Why It's Good: It sticks to the facts, avoids making unsupported claims, and highlights compliance with regulations, making it both legal and trustworthy.

Be Real

Marketing is about connecting, and nothing beats being genuine. Show the real face of your brand. Avoid over-the-top claims and stay true to what you offer. People appreciate honesty and can spot insincerity a mile away. When you're real with your audience, you're not just selling a product or service; you're building a relationship based on trust and authenticity.

Bad Ad

Good Ad

  • Ad Format: Image

  • Content: A before-and-after photo of someone using a weight loss product, but the after photo is clearly edited to look more dramatic.

  • Problem: The edited image sets unrealistic expectations and can be seen as dishonest.

  • Ad Format: Video

  • Content: A video showing everyday people using the product in real-life settings, with genuine reactions and comments.

  • Why It's Good: It presents the product in a realistic and relatable way, building trust with the audience.

Be Optimized

Optimization is your digital compass in the marketing world. It means making sure your content is easy to find and relatable to your customers. This includes using the right keywords for search engines having a clear, legible piece of media, or adapting your message for different platforms and devices. Think of it like tuning a radio to get a clear signal – optimization helps your message come through loud and clear in a crowded online space.

Bad Ad

Good Ad

  • Ad Format: Image

  • Content: An image with small, hard-to-read text and no clear focus, making it confusing as to what the product is.

  • Problem: The ad fails to grab attention or convey a clear message, reducing its effectiveness.

  • Ad Format: Video

  • Content: A short, engaging video focusing on one key feature of the product, with a clear, simple message and a visible call to action.

  • Why It's Good: The focused content and clear call to action make it easy for viewers to understand and engage with the ad.

Be Clear

Clarity is the key to effective communication. Keep your message simple and straightforward. Avoid jargon and complicated language. It's not about dumbing things down; it's about making your message accessible to everyone. When your audience clearly understands what you offer, they're more likely to engage. Clear communication is like a well-lit path; it guides your customers exactly where you want them to go.

Bad Ad

Good Ad

  • Ad Format: Image

  • Content: An image filled with technical jargon and complex graphs that are difficult to understand without background knowledge.

  • Problem: The complicated content is confusing and not accessible to the average person.

  • Ad Format: Infographic

  • Content: A clear infographic showing what the product does, its benefits, and its price, using simple language and easy-to-understand visuals.

  • Why It's Good: The straightforward and visually appealing format makes it easy for anyone to understand what's being advertised and its value.

Actionable Items & Keytake Aways:

1. Be Legal

  • Summary: Adherence to legal standards and platform-specific policies is crucial. This ensures truthfulness in advertising, respects intellectual property, and protects consumer privacy.

  • Actionable Items:

    • Verify claims made in ads for accuracy and legality.

    • Understand and comply with the specific rules of each platform.

    • Regularly update knowledge on legal requirements in marketing.

2. Be Real

  • Summary: Authenticity in marketing fosters trust and establishes a genuine connection with the audience.

  • Actionable Items:

    • Use real customer stories or experiences in advertising.

    • Avoid exaggerated claims; focus on the real benefits of your product.

    • Consistently portray your brand's true values and message.

3. Be Optimized

  • Summary: Optimization ensures your content is visible and resonates with your target audience. It includes SEO, clear visuals, and platform-specific adaptations.

  • Actionable Items:

    • Use SEO best practices for digital content.

    • Design ads with clear, legible text and visuals in the proper formats of your platform.

    • Tailor your content to fit the audience of different platforms.

4. Be Clear

  • Summary: Clarity in communication leads to better understanding and engagement from the audience.

  • Actionable Items:

    • Simplify your message; avoid technical jargon.

    • Use visuals like infographics to explain complex ideas simply.

    • Ensure your ads have a clear call to action and convey the intended message straightforwardly.

Overall Summary: Effective marketing revolves around being legal, real, optimized, and clear. By adhering to legal standards and platform policies, showcasing genuine and relatable content, optimizing for visibility and engagement, and communicating clearly and straightforwardly, your marketing campaigns can achieve greater impact and build stronger connections with your audience. Remember, the goal is to create advertising that not only attracts attention but also earns trust and respect from consumers.

Your 1st Ad, Budget and Closing Thoughts

Now that you've run through the framework, it's time to formulate your first ad. It's important to understand that your first ad might not do as well as you want, this is why marketers always test ads (typically called A/B testing). The idea is to have the foundation of your ad figured out above all else, who it's for, what you offer, how they can interact with it, etc. The biggest lingering question - is budget, and this is important and can be calculated in a few key ways below. Always remember - pretend that no one has heard of what you have to offer, so an ad that tells them why it matters is far more effective than an ad that simply assumes. 

The Bad Ad

Business Type: Local Fitness Center

Ad Content: "Join our gym and get in the best shape of your life!"

Ad Format: Image

Visuals: A generic stock photo of a fit model in a gym setting.

CTA: "Visit our website for more info."

Bad Ad Analysis:

  1. Generic and Overused Messaging: The headline "Transform Your Body Overnight!" uses an overhyped and unrealistic promise. It's a common pitfall in fitness advertising, often leading to skepticism and distrust among audiences who are aware of the realities of fitness and health.

  2. Lack of Specificity: The ad fails to mention what sets this gym apart from others. "The Best Gym in Town" is a vague and subjective claim that doesn't provide any concrete information about the gym's unique features, services, or community.

  3. Unrealistic Expectations: The body copy suggests an almost instant transformation, which is not only unrealistic but also potentially harmful by promoting unhealthy expectations about fitness and body image.

  4. Impersonal Visuals: Using a stock photo disconnects the ad from the local community it's targeting. It lacks authenticity and doesn't represent the actual experience or environment of the gym.

  5. Weak CTA: The CTA, "Visit our site for more dazzling details," is passive and lacks urgency. It doesn't guide the audience towards a specific, actionable step, reducing the likelihood of immediate engagement.

Problem with the Ad:

  • The CTA is vague and passive, not encouraging immediate action or engagement. It gives a customer work to act on the deal (they have to email or call).

  • The generic content and stock photo fail to create a connection or urgency.

The Perfect Ad

Business Type: Local Fitness Center

Ad Content: "Join our supportive community and achieve your fitness goals with personalized training plans."

Ad Format: Video


  • Real gym members and trainers in action.

  • Authentic testimonials and highlights of unique gym features.

CTA: "Sign up today for a free trial session and experience the difference!"

Analysis of the Perfect Ad:

  1. Relatable and Realistic Messaging: The headline "Your Fitness, Your Way!" immediately addresses the viewer personally and suggests customization and individual attention. It sets a tone of inclusivity and personal care.

  2. Clear Unique Selling Proposition (USP): The sub-headline and body copy clearly articulate what makes this gym different – personalized training plans and a supportive community. It speaks directly to potential members who might feel intimidated or overlooked in larger, less personal gym settings.

  3. Authentic and Inclusive Visuals: Showing real gym members and trainers in the video makes the ad relatable. It accurately represents the gym's environment, appealing to a broader audience and making it more trustworthy.

  4. Strong and Clear CTA: The CTA "Claim your FREE trial session now and feel the difference yourself!" is compelling and direct. Offering a free trial is an effective way to encourage potential customers to experience the gym's unique atmosphere and services firsthand.

  5. Building Trust and Community: The use of testimonials and highlighting the gym's community aspects build trust. It shifts the focus from just being a place to work out to a community where members support and motivate each other.

Why This Ad Is Effective:

  • The CTA is direct and offers an immediate, tangible benefit (a free trial session) w/ an online booking portal.

  • It aligns with the message of personalization and community, encouraging viewers to experience the gym firsthand.

  • The use of real people and settings creates an authentic and relatable appeal.

Choosing Your Budget

  1. Set a Goal: Think about what you want your ads to do. Do you want more people to know about your store? Do you want to sell more of a certain product? Your goal will help decide how much to spend.

  2. Check What a Customer is Worth: Think about how much money a typical customer spends over time. You want to spend less on ads per customer than what this customer will eventually spend at your business.

  3. Look at What Worked Before: If you've advertised before, see which ads helped you the most. Use this info to plan your next ad spend.

  4. See What Others Are Doing: Take a peek at what similar businesses are spending on their ads. This gives you an idea of what's normal in your industry.

  5. Start Small, Then Adjust: Begin with a small budget. Watch closely to see if the ads are helping. If they are, you can slowly spend more.

  6. Use a Part of Your Sales: A simple way is to take a small percentage of your sales and use that for ads. This could be around 2-10%, depending on what you can afford.

  7. Match Your Ads with Your Sales Process: Think about where your customers usually are in the buying process. Are they just learning about your products, or are they ready to buy? This helps decide what kind of ads to run.

  8. Spend More When It's Busy: If there are times in the year when you sell more (like holidays), that's a good time to spend more on ads.

  9. Don't Stretch Your Wallet: Finally, only spend what you can afford. Ads are important, but so is keeping your business financially healthy.

In short, start with a clear goal, understand your customers, learn from past ads, keep an eye on what others do, and adjust as you go. And most importantly, make sure it fits your budget!

What if All This is Too Complex?

Feeling overwhelmed? It's completely normal. Diving into the world of advertising can be daunting, especially when you're trying to run a business at the same time. But remember, you're not alone in this journey. If all of this seems too complex, there are resources and professionals ready to lend a hand.

Consider partnering with a marketing agency or a freelance advertising expert. These professionals can demystify the process, tailor strategies to your specific needs, and manage your campaigns, allowing you to focus on what you do best – running your business. They bring a wealth of experience and can provide insights that you might not have considered. It's import to find a balance between one that charges too much for labor and one that gets actual results. Always remember with marketers - the majority should not be for the labor to post an ad (all platforms make it relatively easy to do so, self-service) and you should be paying for their experience in making a better ad.

Additionally, there are numerous online tools and platforms designed to simplify advertising for business owners. From automated ad managers to intuitive analytics tools, technology can make managing your campaigns more straightforward and less time-consuming.

Remember, seeking help is not a sign of defeat; it's a strategic decision to optimize your resources and efforts. And as you grow more comfortable and knowledgeable in the advertising space, you'll find it easier to take on more responsibilities and make informed decisions for your business's marketing needs.

Talk to a real person who can help you get in the right direction - for free!


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