Seasoned Marketer: How to Develop an Effective Paid Advertising Strategy

In today’s world, people are inundated with information, and breaking through the noise can be a formidable challenge. For accounting firms navigating mergers, rebranding or launching new services, the importance of paid advertising is more pronounced than ever. In this era of constant connectivity, where attention is a limited commodity, paid advertising can give firms the extra boost they need to rise above the noise and ensure key messages are heard. But how can you develop an effective paid advertising strategy? Here are some key steps and questions to ask along the way.

Step 1: Determine Your Goals and Set a Budget

Defining your goals is the first step in creating a successful paid advertising strategy. Ask:

  • What specific objectives are you looking to achieve with your paid advertising campaign? Do you want to increase brand awareness? Attract new clients? Or announce a new service?
  • Are there particular demographics or geographic areas you want to target?
  • Are there certain mediums you want to use and others you want to avoid?

In this step, you should determine how much you will invest in your total paid strategy. You don’t have to get into specifics yet, but determine what your overall budget is going to be. This will help you hone in on placements later and choose strategies where you will get the best bang for your buck.

My firm underwent a rebrand last year and developed a paid advertising strategy focused on generating sustainable brand awareness. We knew that we wanted to increase name recognition in one specific region, and also wanted to experiment with new paid mediums like streaming and geofencing. With this in mind, we set our primary audience as potential clients and our secondary audience as existing clients, potential employees and the community. Although this seems broad, we knew that the only way our brand awareness would be truly sustainable would be to target all our firm’s audiences, including potential recruits and community influencers.

Step 2: Evaluate Placement Options

There are tons of paid advertising options available. With traditional channels, you have print publications, broadcast radio and billboards. On the digital side, there are mediums like LinkedIn, Google, streaming radio and geofencing. Community and event sponsorships are also worth considering.

Each tactic has pros and cons, so it is important to evaluate options based on the goals you set in step one. For example, If you’re looking to target a very specific audience and you want something measurable, digital is likely a good route.

In this phase, you will start meeting with vendors, especially if going the traditional route. In these meetings, ask about their audience demographics, reach and engagement.

At this step, ask yourself the following:

  • What traditional channels (publications, radio, billboards) do you believe will have the most impact on your target audience?
  • Which digital platforms (LinkedIn, Google, streaming services, geofencing) are most relevant to your goals?
  • Are there specific community events or sponsorships that align with your brand and objectives?

Going into my firm’s rebrand, many in our leadership group wanted to invest in billboards. However, during the evaluation phase, we realized that billboards would have a significant cost and didn’t provide the best opportunity to reach our target audience. Ultimately, we decided to invest in other strategies, such as print ad placements in a regional business magazine, that would increase awareness in our lesser-known regions.

Step 3: Select Your Advertising Mix

Once you’ve evaluated placement options, it’s time to select your advertising mix. This is where your budget plays a key role. As in the previous example, some strategies will better suit your goals and have better ROI. You will likely want a strategy that includes a blend of traditional and digital channels to get the widest reach. Ask:

  • What specific mediums do you want to use based on your budget and goals?
  • Do you have an appropriate mix of traditional and digital channels?
  • How will you ensure consistency in messaging across various advertising channels?

During our final selection phase, my team determined that a mix of traditional and digital strategies would be best. On the digital side, we invested the most in LinkedIn since the platform has the biggest reach for business professionals, our main target audience. We also chose a regional business magazine as our primary traditional tactic. Although we could not as easily track ROI with our print ad placements, we knew our ads would reach one of our main target audiences and help us achieve the primary goal of increasing name awareness in the region.

Rising Above the Noise

When used correctly, paid advertising is a powerful tool that can help your firm stand out amongst the onslot of content we face each day. It’s important to note that whatever strategies you choose, you must be authentic to your firm’s brand. Don’t get caught up in chasing a viral moment. Instead, craft ads that are true to your firm and values, and stay consistent every time. When you do, your target audience will notice, and hopefully, they’ll start to recognize your firm, logo, messaging and imagery. That’s the goal of advertising – awareness. Building a recognizable brand no matter what platforms you’re on.

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About Taylor Bartosiewicz

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