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No matter the size of the online store you are launching or preparing to launch, an advertising campaign and budget will fall into your overall marketing plan. But some shop owners get either paralyzed and don’t know where to start or they jump into buying ads with no planning or strategy.
Today I had Marjorie Clayman, a good friend of mine and Director of Marketing, B2B Client Services at Clayman & Associates, join us to chat about how to better prepare yourself for this big step. She has been involved with both small and large businesses over the years helping them to plan and carry out effective advertising strategies via all mediums. If you are at a point where you may need to reevaluate what you are doing, tune in and listen to some great insights from Marjorie.
You will find a full transcript at the end of this post.
We chatted about:
- Some insights for a store owner who is asking themselves if they are ready to start an ad campaign
- If a single ad can be an entire ad campaign or if it’s more than that
- Where and how to geographically choose to run the campaign
- A few basic guidelines for setting your ad campaign’s budget
- When you can run an ad campaign yourself and when you should bring in the pros
And lastly, I asked Marjorie how she feels about having to register in order to purchase something online.
You may also be interested in listening to: How to Get Started with AdWords for Your Online Store
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You can also download a pdf of the full transcript here: BobWP eCommerce Show Epsiode 101 September 11 2017
Bob Dunn: Hey Marjorie, welcome to the show.
Marjorie Clayman: Thank you very much, Bob.
Bob: I know what you do, and I’m sure there are others who know what you do, but there might be a few listeners who are asking, who is Marjorie Clayman? Give us your background in a nutshell.
Meet Marjorie Clayman from Clayman and Associates
Marjorie: I was hoping you would answer that question for me, Bob, when I saw that in the show preview. It’s the ultimate existential question. Who am I, and what do I do? But I guess I’ll have to fake it here.
I am a director of marketing at a company called Alliance Industries in Marietta, Ohio, and I work for an agency called Clayman & Associates, which used to be my family company. It was purchased four years ago and brought down here to Marietta from Akron, Ohio. As for what I do, I’m fairly typical of a professional these days because I have approximately 2 million hats that I wear, but I get involved in public relations, media planning and buying, copywriting for everything from ads to brochures to websites. I dabble in some SEO work, or at least I can converse with really, really good SEO people and hold my own.
When it comes to marketing, I pretty much can make my way in whatever clients need.
Bob: Very cool. Now, I know what we’re going to be talking about advertising campaign for an online store. Now this is a huge topic and you can’t give us everything there is to know about it, but I thought we might get some generalities because some people are a little hesitant wondering what to do.
What should people think about when starting a campaign?
Let’s start with this. What are the questions somebody should ask themselves when they’re ready to start a campaign? Are there any kind of basic things to get them up and moving?
Marjorie: Well, what I am always surprised by is how many things in marketing we don’t do that when you think about it, I call them V8 moments, like, “Gosh, why would I not do that? One of those things is setting objectives. There’s so much pressure these days to participate in different marketing tactics. We’ve seen that with social media every time a new platform comes out. “I must be there.” Why? “I don’t know, but I will do it.”
There are people out there who preach that that’s a good way to approach marketing. I’ve never been a fan of the throw-spaghetti-against-the-wall scenario for marketing. It’s no surprise that people have no idea how to track their return on investment because they don’t even know what a return would be in many cases.
Set your objectives.
For any kind of marketing and advertising campaign, social media marketing, a website, whatever you’re doing, you need to first, say, “Six months from now, what do I want to be able to say that we accomplished?”
For an online store, one would assume that you’re hoping that you have some really nice sales increases, and so that will help you frame your strategy and help you frame what channels you want to hit.
Determine your budget.
The next thing you need to consider, of course, is your budget, and that can be tricky because if you’re an entrepreneur just getting started, you might have no budget. I mean, we’ve talked to a lot of fairly large companies that have never had marketing as a line item in their budget before, so when we say, “Well, what do you think would be a fair proposal from us?” they have no idea because it’s always been nothing, which we can’t do. We would love to, but pro bono does not pay the bills, unfortunately, so figuring out your objectives and figuring out what budget you can afford to push towards those objectives, in my opinion, has to be done, and those are always the first two questions that I ask a company that I’m talking to.
Bob: Yeah, that almost sounds like when somebody’s building website, even. Basically the same two things that people don’t think through at the beginning that really, they need to know that and not just say, “I want to build a site and I have $500 to spend.”
Marjorie: Yeah, I mean, and we’re in a marketing world right now where DIY is sort of the fashion trend. Wix and WordPress are out there, you can take photos with your iPhone, and Grammarly can help you make sure that your writing, at least, is semi-literate, and so it’s … Sorry, that was a little judgemental, but…
Bob: I know what you mean.
Marjorie: But there’s the sense that, “Well, maybe what I put out there won’t be the best, but I can do this. I need a website so I’ll put some things up.” It’s point and click. Makes it seem easy, but if you ask someone to go back and look at their website when they’re a year or five years into their business, they might now say, “Well, gosh, my customers would not be able to relate with this content at all. I’m not even driving people to the ‘buy now’ section of the website. I don’t have a ‘buy now’ section on my website, and maybe that’s why sales aren’t so good.”
I mean, it sounds crazy, but these major missing gaps can go unnoticed for months or years at a time, and if you’re flying by the seat of your pants, I mean, that’s kind of what you have to expect. Definitely with a website, and especially for an online store where you need to make sure that the experience that you’re giving your customers is really easy because we all know if we get frustrated with a website, we bounce, you have to have the vision, you have to have a plan, and you have to know what you want the customer experience to be on your website.
Bob: Right. Now, when they’re looking at this campaign and they’re ready to start it and they’ve even maybe decided to listen to what you’ve just said-
Marjorie: They would be very unique in that regard.
Bob: Yeah, they would be unique, wouldn’t they, but we all say there’s that one out of a million person. They’re sitting out there-
Marjorie: Well, aren’t they, Bob.
Bob: … and they’re saying, “Well, Marjorie’s really, yeah. I’m listening to Marjorie.”
Does a successful ad campaign have to involve several different ads and mediums?
Defining what an ad campaign is, if somebody’s looking at … They’re thinking, okay, in their mind, they’re thinking I can see myself doing this one ad. They’re just thinking single ad. Does that really define it as something they can make a campaign out of? Does it have to be several different mediums, several different ads? Maybe you can clarify a little bit of what an ad campaign really is, or does it have to involve all these different ads? You have to worry about, “God, I gotta do four or five different ads.”
Marjorie: Yeah. Well, again, not to sound like a broken record, but I probably will by the end of this interview. A lot of it relates back to what your objectives are and what you want the ads to accomplish. It’s easy to say, “Well, I want an ad to promote my business.” All right, well, that’s great.
If you are a retail store, and you have no brick and mortar building, do you really need a print advertisement? Well, it depends on your industry. In some industries, though it breaks my heart to say it, you can get by without much or any print advertising. In some industries, depending on if you’re a local retailer or a national retailer, maybe you really want to hit the local newspapers really hard, I would say, when it comes to print, if a company comes to me and says, “Well, we would like to run an ad in this publication. We’ve never really advertised before. What do you think?” I tend to advise against that.
I’m a believer in frequency. Unless it’s a really important issue, like it’s going to be featuring your specific product or service, I tend to shy away from a one-and-done advertising campaign in print.
Online, you have a lot more flexibility, of course, because the Interwebs are always on. You don’t have to wait for a publisher’s schedule like you do in print. Even there, I think putting all of your eggs in one basket is a disservice. I think online advertising gives you the huge benefit of A/B advertising, which could be very costly in the print world.
I think if you’re just looking at one ad and you’re not really sure what you’re going to get from it but you feel like you need to do it, I would wait. I would wait either until you have a really specific plan of what you want to accomplish or until you have a little more budget flexibility so that you can expand that effort so it’s a campaign instead of just one ad.
Bob: When you’re online and thinking of creating a campaign, it could be a a single message, but the campaign itself could be several different mediums. Or you could say, “Okay, I’m going to do ads here, but I’m going to also throw in video to the mix, somehow.”
Marjorie: Yeah. You can drive yourself nuts with all of the permutations and combinations of content you can put together.
A few years ago, HubSpot, I think it was, actually did a pretty neat piece on some experimentation they did with their social media advertisements, and how people react to those can vary by platform. They found that, I think on Twitter, image-based ads with pretty nice, sharp, really pretty beauty shots did really well, but in other Tweets, their success was high when they used a little more copy and the image was maybe less polished, a little more casual. And that did well. So you can experiment between different platforms, you can experiment with different types of messages and how you present those.
Even with just Google AdWords, you can try out different ads, different calls-to-action based on the keyword that you’re going for and how you think people tied to that word will react to your ad. You can literally go nuts.
Bob: No kidding. Now, geographically, here’s the deal, and I’m thinking about this question, and I’m going to actually reword it a little bit differently because we’re both from the print world. I mean, we both dealt with that, we know the limitations there. Now, when you go online, obviously you need to figure out geographically where this campaign is going to run, and I’m guessing that might be due to whatever you plan in the beginning when you’re putting-
Marjorie: Oh, listen to that, folks. He’s really listening to what I’m saying.
Bob: I am because I’m always learning. This is why I have people who know more than me on this show, becauseI actually learn things.
Marjorie: Oh, no.
Does an online store still need to target their customers geographically?
Bob: But, I mean, that does play into it, but when you’re thinking online, does just the fact that you’re online change what you should plan geographically, like, “Wow, now I have the world to me”? Or should you still really define that almost based on how you would do it with a print ad. Or are they two totally different animals?
Marjorie: Well, you can actually do targeting in print advertising to some extent. We did a campaign back in the bygone era with inserts, which for those of you who aren’t familiar, they’re on a heavier stock, so when you get the magazine, you automatically turn to that page.
We actually did a campaign in a huge publication where we ran a different insert in different regions tied to regional trade shows that were coming up, and it was pretty effective. The nice thing about inserts is they can be a little bit cheaper to run than something like a full-page ad, so you can do stuff like that as long as publications are audited by BPA or what used to be called ABC, I can’t remember what their new name is, but a lot of those is common sense.
Facebook gives you the option of targeting by city if you want. If you’re a national company, I suppose you could go through and select every single major city in the United States or around the world that you want to target, but that’s going to take you awhile, and it’s probably going to run up the bill a little more than you want.
I work with a lot of companies that are local here to Marietta, and we tend to really focus on a two-hour radius around where they’re located, and that works for them. Someone from Missouri is probably not as likely to come into downtown Marietta and go to a shop as someone who lives here or across the river in West Virginia.
Now, there are some situations where maybe you want to cast a wide net. Maybe someone in Nebraska is looking to move to Southeast Ohio, and you have a property or office supplies or something like that that might just hit them at the right time. You never know, and that’s the magic of marketing, but it basically should fall into what your overall marketing plan is. If you’re a local retailer with an online store, you’re probably going to want to focus on saturating in a pretty tight geographic region around where you are. If you’re a national retailer, you’re probably going to want to play it more broadly so that you can reach as many people as possible.
What advice do you have for setting a budget for a marketing campaign?
Bob: I’m going to go back to the first question a little bit, only because you had mentioned two things, and one of them was budget. Is there anything else you can add as far as some guidelines? I know you touched on it already some, but some basic guidelines on actually setting your budget for those people who are totally baffled by it or is it just, again, all over the board, and it’s really hard to explain in the short amount of time we have.
Marjorie: Unfortunately, that’s one of those questions where you can get a frustrating response like, “It depends,” or, “We customize that information for your company. We literally have gone round and round with some companies. “Well, what would you be comfortable with us proposing?” “Well, what do you want to propose?” “Well, that would depend on what your budget is.” I mean, if you want a really, really robust website, that’s going to cost more than a four-page placeholder website that we would want to build on over time.
I mean, and of course, every marketing professional, every agency, every web development house is going to have a different, completely different in many cases, range of pricing. Everyone has their own hourly rates. Some people have flat rates. There are even some agencies that post project pricing on their website. “If you want a website, we will charge you $500.” I don’t know what you get for that, but they do it.
Usually, if we’re in a conversation like that, we’ll focus more on what a company needs or wants, and then we’ll say, “We’re going to ballpark this for you so you get a feel for what that specific set of attributes would cost you,” and then at least we have a starting point. If that’s too much, then we can say, “Well, here are some things that we could cut to make it more manageable for you.” If they’re totally fine with it, then we probably think we didn’t charge enough. No, I’m just kidding.
But yeah, it can be very, very hard, and there are so many entrepreneurs right now who have been doing everything themselves, and when they’re finally ready to admit, “I cannot do all of this by myself,” they have no idea how to set marketing as a separate budget because they’ve been doing their Facebook Advertising campaigns while they’ve been talking to customers. I mean, how do you break out that billable time? You can’t really do it. It’s very hard for some people to say, “Here is a completely dedicated amount of money that I’m just going to use for marketing.” That’s what it is.
Does the do-it-yourselfer sometimes underestimate the amount of budget needed for marketing?
Bob: Yeah, and typically, especially for those that are the do-it-yourselfers, and they have, in their own brain, set aside this amount of money for marketing or what they think they should be doing, and maybe they’ve even gone a year themselves and used that amount. Do you find most of the time that that’s unrealistic, that most times, their amount is way under budget for what they really should be investing in that part?
Marjorie: Well, a lot of people definitely underestimate the amount of time and expertise that goes into professional marketing. That’s not dinging people who do it themselves, but I think people undervalue their own time when they do things for themselves. They undervalue the time it takes to think about their website and put that together.
I think, unfortunately, it’s hard for people to conceptualize because there are so many DIY tools now, “Well, what does a marketing professional have to offer that I can’t just figure out by watching a YouTube tutorial?” I’m sure you experience that with your business. People are like, “Well, okay, Bob. I mean, that’s great that you know a lot of stuff, but can’t I just … ” they’ll find your tutorials, ironically, but, “Can’t I just go watch the videos and catch up, and then I’ll be able to do it myself?” Well, yeah, but don’t you want to use my experience, my knowledge, and outside perspective?
It’s hard to put a price on that, but I think people always want the best for their companies just like you always want the best for your kids. But there’s a difference between sending your kid to the best private school in the state versus sending them to a public school. I mean, there are years of service and years of experience and years of knowledge that you pay for in different ways, or you decide that you can’t pay for that level of specializing, and you go from there.
Is there a point where a DIY store owner realizes they can’t do it all themselves?
Bob: Which kind of takes us to the last question, and again, I think you’ve touched on it off and on through all these other questions. When that online retailer drops everything and hits their head against the wall and say, “I’d rather be out drinking martinis than doing this stuff,” do you see that most times, they come to you because of just what you said, there’s frustration, they know they’re not doing it right? Do most people attempt it themselves first, and then come to an agency and say, “I finally admit it. I can’t do this myself.”
Marjorie: It’s a mixed bag. I think with a lot of people who are starting their businesses now, they just know that they need to get their business going, and they need to make money, and if marketing is a part of that, they think, “I need to post to Facebook. I need to start Instagram. I need to get in the paper.” They kind of have a framework of how you get a business out there. That’s something that I think people find very accessible now.
But If you say, “Did you notice that your website is not responsive?”, then you get a deer-in-the-headlights look from some folks. If you say, “Well, what keywords is your website optimized for?”, you get, ”For what?” And you say, ”Well, for SEO.” And you get, ”SE what?”
It’s amazing, and, again, this is not meant in a judgmental way, but the number of people who are in business and don’t know what SEO stands for. It’s shocking, especially for retailers where your website is not going to necessarily get a lot of Google love. Because Google doesn’t want to send people to sites where they’re going to be sold things, you’ve gotta have that optimized content in there. You’re just hurting yourself if you don’t do that, but you can’t know what you can’t know.
The biggest obstacle, I think, for people going into business right now, is they don’t know what they don’t know. If you don’t know about responsive websites and the incredible nightmare that that’s become with all of the different platforms and browsers and all that kind of stuff. I mean, soon, we’re going to have holographic websites, and that’s going to be a heck of a nightmare for web developers. “My 3D viewer isn’t working,” and all kinds of stuff. The stuff that they do is great. There’s just a whole world of marketing tactics that they could be doing that they just don’t know about because they’re not marketing professionals. They’re business folks who are trying to grow their business.
Bob: Right. Well, this has been good stuff, and before I ask you where people can find you, I’m going to close this with a personal question.
How do you personally feel about having to register before you make a purchase online?
When Marjorie’s shopping online, and all those online retailers out there want your money, when you land on a new store for your very first purchase, how do you feel about being forced to register to make that purchase? Do you have any thoughts on that, or is that like, “Hey, I can deal with that”, or do you move on? I’d like your quick thoughts on that.
Marjorie: Well, working your whole career in marketing makes that a really interesting question, and the same goes for those roadblock ads that pop up, and you have to X them out before you can actually see what you frickin’ wanted to see.
As a marketer, it’s like, “It’s great, I love it,” but as a consumer, it makes me want to throw my computer out the window because why do I have to X out this, why do I have to register?
I think that you need to gather information these days. Email is still the holy grail of marketing, being able to reach those people individually, but I just think you need to be cautious about how you do it. If someone comes to your website, and you immediately have a pop-up window with a registration form, that’s probably not going to do well for you. If the form is really long, that’s probably not going to go well for you.
There’s a sort of, “Please fill out my form” etiquette out there, I think. People know why you want their information. They’re savvy enough to know that they’re giving away their first child, probably, by giving you their email information, so you have to give them a compelling reason to do that. Even though it’s cliché now, the language of, “We will not spam you”, at least from our own perspective. We’ll only bug you around holidays and your birthday,” that kind of stuff. Those qualifiers are important. I mean, once one company started putting that verbiage in there, everyone had to do it because otherwise, you look like the creeper, right?
Marjorie: But yeah, you need to build your database. You need to find out who your customers are. You just need to be respectful and understand that they’re knowledgeable. They know why you want that information, and if your products are not compelling enough, they won’t do it.
Bob: Yup. We assume that, “Oh yeah, we can be sneaky about it.”
Marjorie: Everybody knows what’s going to happen when they fill out those forms now. We have learned that lesson, so there has to be payout for, “All right, I’m going to be getting your emails, aren’t I?”
Where can people find Marjorie on the web?
Bob: Yup, for sure. Well, this has been wonderful. Where can people find you on the web or where do you like to connect with people on the web?
Marjorie: Oh, I don’t like to connect with people.
Bob: You don’t like, say, “Go away. Leave me alone.”
Marjorie: My profile is just black pictures everywhere.
Okay. I am on Facebook at Marjorie J. Clayman. I am on the Twitters @MarjieClayman, and I’m on Instagram, and I’m on LinkedIn. I don’t post there as often as I should. It’s true, but I am there, and no one can have my email or phone number because those are sacred. I’m not filling out your form, Bob.
Bob: I would probably, even if you were so generous to give them to me, I think I’d still edit them out because …
Marjorie: This is censored content.
Bob: Well, thanks so much. I appreciate you taking the time.
Marjorie: Well, thanks so much, Bob. I appreciate the opportunity.