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Advertising Your Business Pros and Cons

It’s another Expert Briefs, where I ask really smart business owners to answer your burning questions.

I mentioned on my blog that I buy up some advertising at the end of the year to reduce taxable income. Of course, that brought up questions from my readers about how I do that, and if it's effective. So, I figured I'd open it up to my panel of experts.

The question I asked was…

“Do YOU buy advertising either online or offline? And, how do you know that it works – or doesn't?

Do you have any stories or examples
about your experiences?”

I hope you'll find the answers this week interesting.

Mark Mason of says:

When I first got started in Internet Marketing, I had more money than sense. (Some people that know me say this is still the case — but we'll have to take that up in another post).

Anyway, when you are new at Internet Marketing, it can be really exciting. Like most people, I was anxious to get off to a quick start with my business. I needed traffic, so I bought some pop-over ads from one of those high traffic download sites. Tens or hundreds of thousands of impressions (they were cheap, and I had money to spend.).

Of course, at the time I knew very little about Marketing, but I got some traffic.

The problem was that the demographic for the ads was all wrong. As it turned out, all I did was show my offer that should have been targeted at older U.S. females to thousands of teenage male game enthusiasts that were looking for free software. Most of them did not even have credit cards.

The message is obvious. Getting traffic from your ads is not enough. You need qualified traffic. More specifically, you need that “Message to Market Match” that my friend Lynn Terry is always talking about. So, make sure you understand what you are buying, who is clicking, and test, test, test. As Nicole says, “Testing is Sexy.

Kim Roach of says:

I started experimenting with paid advertising in 2010. My favorites include Warrior Special Offers, Solo Ads, and banner ads.

Personally, pay-per-click is way out of my skill set πŸ˜‰

But solo ads and WSO's I can do.

The key is knowing your numbers.

I use Hypertracker to test every traffic source individually. So, for example, if I'm placing a solo ad in someone else's newsletter I will create a unique tracking link in Hypertracker so that I know exactly how many clicks, subscribers, and sales were generated from that particular traffic source.

For example, with our latest product launch of the Traffic Dashboard I've been doing a combined blitz of Warrior Forum Special Offers and Warrior Forum Banner Ads. Using this combination we've done a little over 100 sales just from the Warrior Forum alone – making them one of our top affiliates. But since this was paid advertising there wasn't actually an affiliate link in place.

Maybe I should ask Allen if he'd like to become an affiliate πŸ˜‰

The WF Banner Ads are a new advertising option that has recently been introduced by the Warrior Forum and it costs $100 to have your banner displayed for a full 24 hours.

Not bad for being able to position yourself in front of THE most popular Internet Marketing forum online πŸ˜‰

And based on my stats from Hypertracker, we've been generating AT LEAST $200 in profit for every ad we place. So that means I spend $100 and get at least $300 back.

As you can imagine, I'll do that all day long as long as I'm generating a profit.

But, it is a little bit tough to get a WF Banner spot – they stay full most of the time.

I wonder why πŸ™‚

So that's been a HUGE discovery for 2010.

We also did a number of solo ads in 2010 – which I plan on scaling even further in 2011. Again, it's really just a numbers game. If you're going to do paid advertising you MUST know your numbers.

If you're not tracking everything down to the click, you're really flying blind when it comes to paid advertising.

But start tracking properly and you'll be able to zone in on the critical few that bring you the most results.

I find most of my favorite solo ad spots on the Warrior Forum and the

Plus, if you find a winner and you want to advertise long-term you can often times work out creative deals and discounts with the owner.

Shannon Cherry of S.A.L.E.S. System Formula says:

I have only bought advertising once. And you know what? It was an utter bust.

After all, advertising is what you PAY for. Publicity is what you PRAY for.

That's why I only focus on getting free publicity for my business. I use a lot of ways to do this, including creating my own holiday and doing a virtual blog tour (thanks for the great resource on this Nic!).

However, the one tool that consistently gets me publicity online AND offline is press releases. I write about two a week, but even one a month has helped my clients get on the pages of the New York Times, the Washington Post, Parents Magazine, as well as on The Today Show, Entertainment Tonight and even the Oprah Winfrey Show.

Just imagine how much an ad on Oprah would cost you? Plus, you're competing with some big companies like McDonald's who has a $15 BILLION (yes BILLION with a B) budget for advertising alone.

So I love press releases! And if you haven't included them in your marketing mix, maybe you need to start today.

NicoleNicole Dean of .. here! .. says:

Yes, I invest in advertising, but, as Mark alluded to — I usually test what works and what doesn't. I say “usually” since I'm human and sometimes don't. But, of course, the times that I haven't tested my results — that's been wasted opportunity (and lost cash).

Thankfully testing is pretty easy in many cases. I normally test in either Google Web Optimizer or inside the version of 1ShoppingCart that I use (Quick Sales). I'll write up a blog post about how to do tracking in 1ShoppingCart (and its reseller carts) so you can see exactly how I do it. I've used other Ad trackers in the past, too.

A Word (or Two) of Common Sense First

First let me just say that I don't willy-nilly spend hours on this. It's one piece of my entire marketing portfolio – and, as I always say “Do what works and ignore the noise”. So, if you're getting killers results from video marketing or article marketing, guest blogging, getting interviewed on teleseminars or webinars, recruiting affiliates, getting JV partners, or, as Shannon recommended, writing & submitting press releases, then just read this post and set it aside as a tool that you can pull out and use another day. The last thing I want to do is send you off on a wild goose chase to research advertising if you're better served to write and submit a few articles today instead.

What Kind of Ads to Buy?

I'm going to focus here on email advertising. And, the only kind of email advertising I buy are “solo ads” (which are ads where my promotion is the only thing showing in the email itself). I do not buy email ads that are “top ads” (where you ad is on the top of the email) or “classified ads” (where there are a group of ads at the bottom of the email).

I also don't do “ad swaps” (which is trading mailings with other marketers) with anyone outside of my personal JV relationships (which are people I personally know and trust). I'm highly protective of my online family and will not sacrifice that ever in order to build my lists.

ok. So, where do I find advertising opportunities?

The best ways I've found to get solo ads are…

– Contacting newsletter owners directly.
If I find someone who reaches the people who I want to reach, and looks like they're promoting other people in their emails regularly – and if I like their style, I'll drop them a quick email to inquire if they'd be interested in promoting my offer as an affiliate or, alternatively, if I might otherwise get some info about their advertising rates for a solo ad.

– Watching for solo ad offers.
I've gotten emails from some marketers who've had offers where they sold solo ads. If I'm already on their list, I have a general idea of the relationship they're building with their readers and who they're reaching, so I know whether or not I want to be associated with them.

What I've found to be a waste of time, unfortunately, is the Warrior Forum's JV section on their forum. (Not to be confused with the rest of the Warrior Forum which can be highly valuable.) But the JV section has tons of ad swaps and ad buying opportunities, and you could get lost in there for days. However, the quality of *some* of the lists are questionable. I can't, obviously, group everyone into that, nor would I, but I would recommend that you connect with other marketers in your field who have related products or services – directly – and build a relationship with them, before investing hours in ad swap world.

Is this the best use of your time and the most effective way to get traffic?

That depends. πŸ˜‰ (Of course.)

IF you have an offer that converts (and you know exactly who is buying and how much each person spends) –


IF you're willing to track the results of each place you advertise (the list itself), every email you write (the copy), and the landing pages (including the offers) –

Then sure.

However, if you are thinking of throwing money at ads and hoping for the best – then you might want to put this aside for now – especially if money is tight, and focus on other ways to get in front of your target market.

In that case, I'd again recommend Kim's course: Get Traffic Dashboard (and my Bonus)

That's my 2 cents on the topic. πŸ™‚

Recommended Freebie:


If you want to learn more about Ad Tracking, my interview with Charlie Page touched on a lot of great tips – including the importance of tracking. Why should you listen to him? Because he owns the Directory of Ezines which lists newsletters where you can purchase advertising. You can listen to the interview here: Charlie Page Free Interview.

It’s Your Turn.


So, now, I’ll pose this question to you. Do you do paid advertising for your online business? Why or why not? What have you learned from it? I’d love to hear your comments!

Nicole Dean

PS. I have created brandable ebooks from several of the previous Expert Brief columns that you can use to earn commissions by giving them away.

I appreciate shares and I adore comments! Please share your thoughts.

  • Susanne Myers

    I’ve tried Google Adwords before but never quite could make it profitable. Plus I really didn’t enjoy it and moved towards other methods of traffic generation instead.

    I enjoyed reading about the various ways you use to advertise including solo email ads, newsletter ads and the warrior forum ads. Going to take a look at them over the coming months and give it a try.

    • Nicole

      I just don’t have the time that’s required to become highly successful with Adwords. Every time I mess around with it, I get exhausted and quit.

      It’s another example of knowing where your money is. I could probably outsource someone to do it, but … what would have to go by the wayside in order to get that rolling and managed and would that be worth it at this point in time? Good question. πŸ™‚

  • Loretta

    I love that we’re seeing a bit of both perspectives here, buying advertising versus alternatives that still get you seen. Some great ideas and tips here!

  • Terry White

    Hi Nicloe,
    Using paid advertising is quite an effective method to generate traffic to your affiliate offers and your own.It can be targeted and you stand to reach a large number of people that you normally wouldn’t.Free and organic traffic is great but it takes time to develop.I agree with you that newsletter solo ads is a great option.

  • TrafficColeman

    I haven’t bought advertising since 2002..and I really don’t plan on it. but it is an good way to spend money if you have it to spend for many reasons.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

    • Nicole

      I much prefer using content in various ways for exposure and used to swear that I’d never pay for advertising. πŸ™‚

      However, of course, if I get the opportunity to mail to a list of hungry buyers (or active affiliates) and build a relationship with them – I’m all over that, too.

  • Scott Tousignant

    OK, I soooo needed Mark to say that “Testing Is Sexy”… actually, I believe it’s WAAAAY Sexy, correct???

    I haven’t purchased advertising for my online business. I guess that has been out of fear. Two of my colleagues who are kicking butt in the fitness niche have gotten where they are because they’ve mastered the art of buying traffic. This may sound a little evil, but I like to let them do all the hard work of buying traffic since they are so good at it and then have them recommend my programs πŸ˜‰

    What I don’t understand about buying solo ads to an email list is that that person would make more money if they would just use their affiliate link for my program and share the article, instead of charging me a flat fee. Nik, have you ever presented someone with the alternative… (I will pay a flat fee for a solo ad or not pay anything and they earn commissions.)?

    I guess I do payed advertising, but it’s not paid upfront. I pay affiliates when they make a sale πŸ™‚ That’s paid traffic right… converted paid traffic.

    When I had an offline business I paid close to $100,000 in advertising… which translated into a whopping two customers worth $3000. That hard knock lesson is what took my decently successful business and sent it down the tubes. But that’s also what got me to explore online marketing and the rest is history πŸ˜‰

  • William

    Hey Nichole,
    excellent subject. I have used both and I receive better targeted traffic from free strategies like blog commenting, articles, reports & forums.

    However several years ago I used pay per click which works excellent for getting target traffic. Back then the clicks were cheap enough and I could test headlines, sub-heads, diffrent templets etc, cheaply.
    One thing I learned from using pay per click with Google is not to let your ad appear in the content network. If your testing it will kill your conversion rate. Google may not like it and could shut down your ad if it isn’t getting enough traffic.
    They need money too;).

    With pay per click ads skyrocketing in price, I prefer the free methods.

    Either way there really isn’t any such thing as free traffic. Your going to pay for it with time or money.

    I rather pay with time because it really converts at a higher conversion than pay per click in the long run.
    Articles, blog post, etc, if they are ever-green, will get you traffic five, ten years from now.

    If you have a website or blog, ad swaps are possible and free if you could find someone willing to swap ads with.

    Thanks for your time everyone.

  • Loretta

    I think we need to get Nicole a t-shirt that says “testing is sexy” before the August NAMS event πŸ™‚

  • Lisa Wells

    I’ve been using Facebook ads as I just started marketing to a very small niche (military spouses) on how to become VAs. I’m still testing and changing up the graphic, words, etc. It’s pretty inexpensive but it’s hard to tell at this stage if it’s a good ROI because the niche is so small.

  • Lalitha Brahma

    Great article. Thanks Nicole. Every Internet marketer, especially the start up, wants to learn from other marketers. You have done an excellent job of helping us with inputs from experts. Thanks to all the experts also. I personally like blogs-connecting/linking to email newsletter/social networking etc. They are free advertising and I haven’t ventured into paid one. However I haven’t invested time and effort in tracking. I should do this from now on.

  • Lynn Brown

    Thanks Nicole for another ‘stop and think’ subject! When I started out on the internet over 15 years ago, I was taught basically what we call today, spamming. It worked, got lots of sales, but didn’t build the relationships. I so much love how the internet has evolved into a more social network and enjoy building those relationships, alliances and collaborate with some really great people. So if you have the Top 4 (I call it) FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube working for you, then that networking alone has brought much traffic my way which allows me to take the time to meet and build a lasting friendship.

  • Business Marketing with John Komatsoulis

    Great post Nicole, a lot of wonderful insight from some very powerful people.

    Sadly I’m guilty of spending a ton of money on PPC, banner ads and classified ads. I’ve learned a lot from my mistakes, but I do kick myself once in a while when I think about it.

  • Angela Wills

    This is a great post Nicole and full of really good info! Loved reading all the comments too.

    One thing I noticed no one mentioned was paying for advertising then using it to build your list. I am testing it right now and so far I think it’s really worth the money I paid. Basically I found a really targeted site to an email list I have and then I paid $85 for 100,000 impressions. So far I’ve used up about 20,000 impressions, gotten a little over 200 clicks and got about 36 new signups to my list. At this rate I’ll be paying about $0.50 per email which is well worth it to me.

    I’m doing this because I know how valuable my list is. I’ve got people on my list who’ve been with me for years. They’ve followed me as I switched autoresponders and they’ve literally allowed me to earn a living online. BUT my list is very small and I figure instead of trying to make an ad convert to a sale I’m willing to invest in the LIST part of it now so I can build that relationship with them which I know will eventually turn into sales.

    To me it’s well worth it as I’m now speeding up the process I already have going with my other ‘natural’ list-building techniques.

    Anyway – I think I just wrote myself a blog post, lol. This post really got me thinking though and I may also test straight sales, too.

    Oh – and with my opt-in I”m also testing out a one time offer so if I can get that to work it might end up costing me nothing to rapidly build my list. Will let ya know how it goes πŸ™‚

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