Many times in the past the offer of online advertising has been pronounced dead but it’s still alive and kicking very well thank you very much but are you getting those leads that you expected from your online campaign.

We would argue that the practice of paying for advertising on various websites around the internet is thought about in the wrong way. Yes, sure if you run a shop selling product that the tracking and justification of online advertising has become far easier in past years. Sites like Facebook and Google provide all manner of data on who is clicking and what, if anything, they went on to buy from you as a result. You don’t even have to run your own site, Amazon will give you commission on things you sell by way of introduction taking the hassle out of selling altogether although we suspect it will seldom be more than pocket money. I digress.

For the rest of us running service based businesses actually tracking your online effectiveness is far more of a black art. In any form of consultancy for instance, customers are far more likely to be spending hundreds if not thousands of pounds in their first collaboration with you and that sort of purchase isn’t the type to be bought facelessly by credit card or PayPal so we need some form of justification. That justification is ‘Brand Building’.

Brand Building isn’t just for big conglomerates

There are many aspects to building your brand (Brand has never just been about a nice logo and consistent communications) but in the case of consultancy we’re talking about exposure. The more we see communications from a specific organisation, whether traditional advertising, emails, banner adverts, direct mail or good old fashioned networking, the more we become familiar with that brand. That familiarity with your brand is the key.

In my humble opinion there is no better advertising than personal networking (sites like Twitter certainly help you) but there are only so many hours in the day and try as we might, sooner or later we all reach a point where networking drops off in favour of paid work. This can create a cycle of networking followed by delivery until sales drop off and we start networking again. Supplementing this cycle with advertising in the right places can increase your efficiency in finding new business.

Finding the ‘right’ places

Advertising your consultancy on Facebook (even if it’s methods of advertising are the talk of the town) will probably not generate too much brand awareness, regardless of how many people are exposed to your advert. What you are looking for are industry specific websites, sometimes tiny in readership and statistics which may not look like value for money, but consider the quality of the people using them. Linked in may be a good place to start but have you missed a news site or personal blog that is popular amongst your target audience?

In industries as specific as refrigerated shipping or fruit export for instance there are only a handful of sites reporting on the news that really matters. If you are in such a sector it’s these sites that are the most valuable to you.

So the next time you are thinking of buying advertising online think about the smaller sites, discussion boards and blogs that you and your colleagues use as part of your day and don’t be blinded by the amazing statistics and reporting of the big boys. If your product or service is not aimed at the masses then neither should your advertising be.

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