A large part of my day job is interacting with various advertising interfaces. Amazon ads, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Google Ad words, Pinterest, all use various forms of ads which include display ads, sponsored products, image ads, banner ads, dynamic ads, video ads, re-targeting ads, slide show ads, and my personal favorite, the lookalike ads. If you’re curious what these are message me. They’re not going away…If you fancy yourself a marketer, or want to learn how to get information in front of the RIGHT people, you need to know what each of these do. After understanding how you can use each of these, you need to learn the interface of the platform. For instance, Google Ad Words can be quite overwhelming. It’s gotten a lot more aesthetically pleasing, which helps with the clutter, but it’s a very sophisticated interface so it’s easy to get lost. I will say, it’s getting much better. Facebook is quite straight forward now. Recently, they changed the entire look of ad manager, and it’s a game changer. Amazon, I believe, could learn a thing or two from them. Speaking of, Amazon makes the least sense to me. It’s the only platform that gives me the feeling that they don’t care if your ACOS is through the roof. They blatantly see it as free money. They not only own the largest retail platform in the history of man, but they make billions on charging companies that want to rank within their search algorithm.

Now that you’ve got your head around all the various types of ads, and the interfaces you use to create and manage the ads, the next step is understanding your audience. Not what you believe of your audience, but objectively learning from the data and adjusting your tactics and what you “know” about them. By “data” I mean all the money you’ve thrown away on poor audience tuning. Poor ads are actually quite valuable. You learn things about the market and about people that you could never learn otherwise. Data about how we interact online is currency these days. You think Facebook and Google are free? Think again…As a consumer of the internet, you sell your human nature to these platforms in exchange for fast information and social interaction. This arrangement is good and bad from a societal standpoint, but that’s an entirely different conversation. I do believe it’s a positive trade off though from the old way. We are presented with ads that are tailored to our interest. When is the last time you watched prime time network news? How quick did you change the channel after getting hit with the third personal injury lawyer, or life insurance pitch? The television was the largest platform for advertisement for decades. How do you fine tune your audience though? How do you know what your reach is when each TV could have 1 or 5 people watching? How do you know the personalities of the consumer you’re paying to get in front of? The simple answer is you couldn’t. Now you can. I believe that makes dealing with ads easier for the consumer and, more importantly, gives small businesses a fair shot at participating in the market. Online marketing has given a second wind to the small entrepreneur. Facebook offers a free pixel for business page admins that track users and re-target them once they log into Facebook. If you’ve visited my site in the last 30 days, you will get hit with my ads on Facebook because of the Pixel in the back end of my site. Amazon spends more money than anyone on Google ad words so my Amazon ads are ranking on Google web while my Google Merchant ads are ranking in Google Shopping. Since Google owns YouTube, it’s algorithm favors WordPress sites with YouTube videos embedded in them, so I have a product video on all product pages and I’m running video ads that rank in YouTube video search. Which video you get hit with depends on your previous interactions with my videos. In other words, if you are a first timer, you’ll see what’s called a “catch all” type ad which is generic and mean’t to get you to the site so we can learn more about you. If you’ve seen one tutorial video I have a shorter video with no dialog will re-target you within a week or so. If you’ve subscribed, you’ll then receive my emails. Since Instagram is owned by Facebook, FB has it set up to where you can upload a vertical video while you’re making your FB video ad and it will use the vertical to also run on Instagram, so you get two birds stoned at once. To wrap up my point here, the quickest way to blow money is just tapping “boost post” because these platforms know that it’s low hanging fruit for them so they make it tempting and easy for people to react to. I mean what’s 10 bucks just to see what happens right?? The boost post button is essentially the penny slots. You’re not mean’t to win. You have to understand who to target and how. By far the best type of target audience are lookalike ads. Some interfaces allow you to upload an email list of customers you have dealt with, or in the case of FB the pixel does the work for you, and automatically targets the top 1-3% of users that share similar habits online. Another decent way to target an audience is focusing on pages people follow. I have an ad running now where I created 4 ad sets. Follow me here…The budget for the ad is 40 dollars a day. 10 targets people that follow various acoustic guitar brand pages, 10 goes to people following guitar magazines, 10 goes to people that use hashtags involving guitar pedals, and 10 does to re-target people that have already seen one ad and reacted to it but didn’t purchase. Not as accurate as the lookalike but not bad either.

SO…What’s the point of this digital marketing rant? You can apply it to your personal brand as well. This isn’t just for tangible products. Bands, singers, producers, videographers and alike need to use these tools to expand your audience. Accumulate an email list of high quality consumers. High quality meaning that they organically enjoy whatever you are providing. Not your moms email, but people that have found you and voluntarily signed up to be kept in the loop. You can use that list to create lookalike ads yes, but most importantly, you can develop an email marketing campaign that blasts out whenever you want, which is FREE. If you’re an artist and you’re wondering how on earth you can come up with worth while content to justify a regular email going out, then you’re still not understanding. Get creative…send out a weekly email summarizing all your social posts from each platform. Record a 10 minute conversation with someone or with yourself. Review a video on YouTube, send out a poll questionnaire to your subs. Content is king now and UNFORTUNATELY, it’s quantity over quality. Algorithms are pieces of code that aren’t able to make human value and quality judgement. If you’re not interacting with all social platforms in some way DAILY then those algorithms will bury your page and growing organically with quality followers is almost impossible. People that interact with the platform the most get the most exposure.

Last thing I’ll say on this topic, unless I’m asked to elaborate on anything, is it’s not just click click win. I broke even, if not lost, 64K a few years ago when I started on this journey to teach myself digital marketing. In that year I accumulated ALOT of data though. For every failed ad I learned what not to do. A few years later and now for every 2 grand I spend I gross 12. The learning doesn’t end though. These algorithms change quarterly so you have to stay in tune with the digital world daily.

After understanding how to tune an audience and operate within the various platform’s interfaces, it doesn’t matter what it is, I can probably sell a lot of it. I attribute this side of my professional growth to giving my composition and artist background a second chance at life. I’ve worked in the gear business for 11 years, I’m 32 , not in a band at the moment, don’t play live regularly anymore, not visiting stores much anymore, but I’ve never made more at being a musician than I did last year and I’ll do better this year. All because I learned digital marketing by necessity in order to sell guitar gear.

Funny how the world works out sometimes.