DIY Ad Agency is an article series focused on giving entrepreneurs and business managers some of the basic tools and strategies they need to start advertising their business products and/or services with the budget they have available. If your budget is tight, but you have the dedication and attention to detail to succeed, you can leverage this series to turn a small advertising budget into a profitable campaign.

Other posts in this series:

So, you’ve completed your research, read some books from the sages of marketing (Ogilvy and Bogusky), performed business planning, re-checked projections, informed your campaign strategy with data and most importantly, talked to lovers and haters of your brand.  Its time to go to market and perform small business marketing.

In this second part of DIY Agency, launching your campaign, I’ll cover creating a campaign theme, designing creative assets, setting up programmatic media channels, and using appropriate tracking tools.

Small Business Marketing: Creating campaign themes

Many ad folks believe campaign themes are made with insights. I share their belief. For instance, in BMW’s recent Super Bowl Ad, it is apparent that the luxury car maker is attempting to position itself as an innovator in the emerging electric car market” How? With the insight that most people still don’t know what the heck they are—by comparing an old segment on Today regarding the internet with a “new segment” on electric cars. I love it. Haven’t seen the ad? Watch below:

So, with $300/mo (what you have) and not $5M/mo (what BMW has), how can you use insights to benefit your Brand?

Look no further than the conversations you’ve had with customers.  For instance, continuing with the Massage Therapist  example, you may have found that customers don’t really explain what they want in their massage because there is not enough prep-time prior to beginning.  That’s insight! If you send customers an email with a link prior to their scheduled time, they’d have the ability to fill out what pains them and you could prep prior to their arrival.

The message then might be:  “We care more about your massage”

The creative assets would talk to:

  1. How you confirm appointment time via email
  2. How you ask customers what pains them prior to the appointment so you can prep
  3. How can spend time before and after the appointment with customers
  4. How you provide tips and resources on your blog to deliver a custom plan for everyone
An example of Google Trends data

And if you skipped talking to customers in my planning recommendations (phase one), that’s a demerit against you! One workaround might be to use Google trends (and use link juice methodology) to try and garner market share.  I’m academically opposed to this approach, but its practical and can work, so here’s how that might go:  You’ve been on Google trends and notice “wellness” is rapidly growing in interest.  Your marketing message is: “Massage therapy to improve wellness”. Or maybe, the insight is “back pain management”.  Your message might be: “Ten things to focus on reducing back pain.”

Let’s assume you did the research and your research suggests you should focus on “personal care”.  Ok, lets create some ads.

Creating your ads:


As discussed, your $300 is going to be most likely spent between Google, Facebook and Twitter.  Before creating your ads, make sure you get all ad sizes and formats needed for your media channels.

Here, you can find the latest in ad specs and guidelines for Google, Facebook and Twitter




If you’re not a photoshop expert, I’d sign up for the free trial of PicMonkey.  They have a promo right now to try their “Royale” version, which has all the features.  Get at it DIY Agency!

The look and feel of your ads should be driven by MESSAGE and not design.  If you don’t have an eye for design use a cool font like Montserrat or Lato (both free Google Webfonts).

There are plenty of free hipster images out there (who doesn’t love hipster!?).  Additionally, if you have a retail space, overlaying an image of your retail space with your “cool font” may work ok, too.

A few things on messaging:

  1. Let’s keep our main message at “less than seven words”.
  2. Let’s include a call to action in our ad campaign funnel page (all platforms have areas you can insert this, easy!
  3. Let’s create at least 3 versions of the ads so our channels have “creative options”

Go FOR IT! Find an insight, Get those specs, and design away!

You’ve got the message and have your ad formats! Horray! It’s now time to enter into each of the programmatic buying channels to purchase media.

Entering programmatic media buying

Programmatic ad buying provides many different options for ad types  Google, Facebook and Twitter each have several different “ad options”. First, choose options that involve your customers “intent”. For instance, choose the, “click to website” option for Facebook before choosing “build fans”.  Or on Google, choose to use Google Pay Per Click search ads prior to selecting Google Display Network. There are many, many ad options, but to keep it simple, focus on customer intent.



Google AdWords is where to begin.  So, visit and integrate your current email or, as I like to do, setup another email called “sem@yourcompany”.  This way, as you build relevance with Google, pass off your data to other agencies or decide you want to sell the small empire you’ve created, your account is an ASSET!

NOTE: Marketing, media strategy & platform execution history is an asset for a company.  Historical data is extremely valuable so I wouldn’t advise doing you’re buying under that personal email.

Its best to learn all about Google AdWords and the auction that you are about to join.  It’d take another whole e-book on AdWords to discuss every best practice, but Google has some great “AdWords training” here:

3 highlights:

  1. On Geo-Targeting start wide and get narrow.  For instance, if you live in Southern California…lets say San Diego, CA.  Start your targeting by selecting ‘San Diego’.  Google does allow for the option to select cities, draw on maps and perform radius level targeting, but when we are launching a campaign for the first time, it’s important to serve up “to all that have intent” so the “AdWords engine” can view your Brand’s activity. After about 10 days, revisit your targeting and narrow the focus, ie from San Diego to “La Jolla, Del Mar and Rancho Santa Fe” (smaller communities inside San Diego).
  2. On bidding, also go manual CPC and bid high.  For instance, you have the option to select “cpm” (cost per thousand) or  “cpc” (cost-per-click).  Additionally, Google will provide a suggested bid per click, say $1.70. I like to set my bids higher than Google suggests for the first ten days, say 30% (i.e Google tells me 1.7 and I bid 2.2) Why? I like to bid high early to get Good “Paige rank”, show Google relevance and garner immediate traffic and market share. Because we are set in “manual bidding”, we can scale back whenever the campaign needs to.
  3. On daily budget, don’t divide by 30 days to get your spend per day, divide by 10 days.  For instance, if your Google Pay Per Click budget is $240/mo, don’t set your daily budget @ $8/day. Rather, set your daily budget @ $24/day. Google likes to see higher daily spends and will serve more impressions for the campaign(Impressions are FREE when you buy on a “CPC”).  Then, as you begin to spend, monitor those spends.  It’s your goal to improve your “impression share against the market”.  To do this, you need higher daily budgets.  Keep those daily budgets high until you get to 70% of your monthly budget, then scale back for the rest of the month.  You will likely find that spending faster, grows your business faster and in turn, allows your budgets to grow. That’s media scale!


A marketeer once told me that Facebook ads were so easy to setup.  Yes, they are, but don’t do them right and Facebook will wipe out your budget.

I’d recommend, spending most of your dollars “winning intent” (i.e Go to Google). Whether or not you have a small following on Facebook matters, but it matters less with Facebook’s latest release of new ad policy guidelines which have been much talked about, as in this article here:

(By the way, I think Forrester is one of the last bastions of non-biased, third party research (i.e they don’t measure their research based on the likelihood of web traffic).

So, three things when you’re setting up your ads:

  1. I love the “boosted post”.  It’s very easy to setup and you can easily select hyper-targeting.   I take a very different approach to “non-intent” based advertising like Facebook, compared to Google, and get “NARROW FIRST, WIDE LATER” Get very narrow and serve up $5 worth of ads. Narrow targets can reach more frequently.
  2. Likes aren’t that important. Reach is.  Here’s what I mean. As FB has killed Organic lift,  FB advertising doesn’t have to build a community for your Brand unless their is a major customer service element in your business.  What Brands should be doing is “reaching the audience”, like TV advertising methodology. Think of the Facebook feed like a never ending TV commercial. When performing feed advertising it is more about “reaching”, than “engaging”.  Unless your FB profile has thousands of fans who comment all the time (unlikely), skip the whole social engagement. Get people to your website instead!
  3. CPC all the way! Just like Google, I prefer the “cost per click”. And unlike Google, I bid 50% lower than Facebook suggests you bid. Why? Because we aren’t buying intent. We are “serving up” ads to audiences….and Facebook has so much inventory we can buy in on the cheap. Historically, we pay almost 250% less for clicks on Facebook than we do on Google.  As people say, “In most things, you pay for what you get.”


My new favorite platform! Its the AP feed for the world to use. I love Twitter because it can do both Google AdWords (win intent in local spaces) and Facebook (reach relevant, hyper local audiences).

Argue with me all you want on Twitter demos (this will change, I promise), people who are buying, are on Twitter. And in many ways, Twitter has emerged as a cost leader to reach folks globally! So much has been said (and not said) about ad activity on Twitter. I wouldn’t believe any of it.  Focus on relevant reach. Twitters got it! How can you lose?

Ok, three things to focus on when you’re setting up your twitter ads using that great ad copy you just wrote.

  1. Do not use @ or # signs in your ad.  Why? When someone clicks on your ad, they’ll likely go to the user that is @ or topic hashtag  and be kicked out of your “engagement” funnel.  For instance, if you’re running an ad targeting wellness lifestyle people in Bellvue, WA (a suburb of Seattle) make your ad read “Get involved in Wellness in Bellvue. Download our fitness app here.”
    If you wrote #bellvue, or “get involved in fitness @mycompany” you risk blowing folks outside the funnel, going to the hastag trending page, or your twitter page instead of the page to download or engage your specific content . You can STILL TARGET # and @ hyper locally when you setup the campaign (which is one of the great things about Twitter). =
  2. Treat your ads differently than your feed.  Ads reach people. Your feed may or may not (depending on followers, sharing and activity). Those people who see your ad may or may not visit your feed. Continue publishing relevant content on your feed daily, but treat those posts very different than your ads.  Again, your ads reach different people than your feed.
  3. Stop listening to people that say Twitter is only for protesters, news organizations, or foreigners who are broke. This is absolutely ridiculous.  See an article here about how Twitter is really changing the game of news, media, research and EVERYTHING. It always begins at the Super Bowl!

Now you’ve setup your campaigns:

  • Google: $240/mo
  • Facebook: $30/mo
  • Twitter: $30/mo

Tracking Your Campaign

First off, you’re spending $300/mo so hiring a data scientist, integrated advanced goal tracking in Google Analytics, or thinking there’s enough data to even make a decision in the first month are not realistic goals.

For your campaign, it’s all about spending the money AGAINST our relevant and local (or hyper-local) audience.  Then, ensuring that the audience is spending good time (more than 1:30) with your brand online.

I would also set-up  “thank you page conversion goals” on all pages that accept a form.  Additionally, you can setup a Google tracking number that redirects to your line so we can see if folks call you during the campaign period.

That’s easy! Now:

Launch baby! Launch!

Then Repeat

The next and final article in our DIY Ad Agency series will cover measuring your campaigns progress. After your first campaign, you’ll want (even NEED) to do more campaigns, and you’ll want each one to be more successful than the previous. The only way for that to happen is to measure your campaign closely and have something to report on its progress.

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Jason Knill is the Head of Finance at WordImpress. He likes golf, running, fishing and occasionally writes.

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