Find Your Social Selling Score on LinkedIn

Every once in a while there is something on the Internet that is actually interesting. This doesn’t happen every day, just once in a while.

Recently, I got an mail or read an article or got a notification about LinkedIn’s Social Selling Index (SSI). To see your score you will need an active profile on LinkedIn, obviously. Next go to:

Click on “Get your score free”.

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Once you log in you should see a page that looks similar to this:

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This is the Social Selling Dashboard. At the top, you will see your Industry and Network Ranks.

Then you will see your SSI as of today. This is broken into 4 categories:

  • Establish your professional brand

  • Find the right people

  • Engage with insights

  • Build relationships

As you can see I need to work on the middle 2 sections. If you click on the headings which are links, a popup will appear with a slide presentation on how to improve.

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The information isn’t all that helpful and of course, there is the obligatory sales pitch at the end for Sales Navigator.

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At the bottom of the page, there are comparisons to People in your Industry and People in your Network. If your score is lower than in your industry or your network, then you have lots of work to do.

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If you want suggestions on using LinkedIn better you may want to look at a blog post that I wrote a while back, Tips and Tricks Using LinkedIn.

Alternatively, you can view this presentation called Outstanding Use of LinkedIn on SlideShare to how I manage my profile. The section of the presentation include:

  • Navigating

  • Setup

  • Connecting with people

  • Posting

  • Engaging

Send me a message on LinkedIn and let me know what your score is. I’ll give you some suggestions.

Jeff Nelson

Establishing Expectations

I have been reading. And learning. One of the topics that keeps raised its head is Expectations.

The topic and focus on Expectations started when a friend of mine, David Cooper, suggested that I read, Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore. I mentioned this before in the blog post last week: Marketing Must Establish a Beachhead. If you haven’t had a chance to read that post, I would suggest that you have a quick peak.

Crossing the Chasm

In his book, Moore talks about the various stages that companies go through (see image below), the different types of customers at each stage, and how companies need to change, especially when they are ready to leap across the chasm between Early Adopters and Early Majority.

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Here is a quote related to Expectations from Moore’s book, p.27 (underlining is mine):

Getting closure with visionaries is next to impossible. Expectations derived from dreams simply cannot be met. This is not to devalue the dream, for without it there would be no directing force to drive progress of any sort. What is important is to celebrate continually the tangible and partial as both useful things in their own right and as heralds of the new order to come.

The most important principle stemming from all this is the emphasis on management of expectations. Because controlling expectations is so crucial, the only practical way to do business with visionaries is through a small, top-level direct sales force.

This is Brilliant. Moore captures the essence of establishing and adjusting Expectations with a visionary client. Lots for me to learn.

The Alpha Strategies

Then another friend, Joanne O’Connell, sent me a copy of The Alpha Strategies by Alan Kennedy. Again one of the topics that arises is Expectations.

Kennedy’s framework is all about business strategy and choosing the right strategy as your lead strategy. Here is a list of the eight primary strategies:

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All eight strategies are critical for a business but only one strategy can be the Alpha strategy. The rest are Influencers (only 2-3) and finally, Enablers (the left overs).

Here is how this works for Ford. The Alpha strategy is Manufacturing. The Influencer strategies are Financial Management, Marketing, and R&D Technology. The Enabler strategies are Growth, Organization Management, Risk, and Business Definition.

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Here is a quote about Expectations from Kennedy’s book, p.71 (underlining is mine):

All strategy implementation is driven by expectations created and imposed by the strategic plan on all subsequent strategy development. If those imposed expectations are clearly articulated, then strategy implementation can take its direction from those expectations and stays aligned with the intent of the strategic plan.

Therefore, we think business plan strategy development is founded on identification and prioritization of expectations imposed on the business planner.

Once the expectations have been identified and prioritized, then the business planner can test the most important expectations (imposed priorities) against the business planner’s external reality. In this way, the imposed expectations inform the business planner on what the priorities are to be and the external reality check allows development of strategy consistent with and  tailored to that reality.”

Draft of Expectations

My conclusion with all this reading (and learning) is that I need to bring up the topic of Expectations with our clients on a regular basis.

Here’s my first draft for discussion. What do you think?

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Marketing Must Establish a Beachhead

I’m sure you have read similar articles but before you rush away - Don’t. Hang around because I have 2 suggestions that you may not have read or heard about. Of course, these tips are at the end of the article, so you have to read all the way through - don’t skip to the end.

With each client that I work with, I ask a bunch of questions. Who are they? What do they do? How long have they been in business? What is their background? What is their vision? Etcetera. Eventually, I get around to the question of what is your target market? In 9 out of 10 cases, I get the same broad answer, something like: “Women, ages of 35 to 60” or some variation of that. As you can see with this answer, the target market is very broad and includes just about everyone (or at least half of the population). Sometimes I ask additional probing questions such as, “What about the geographical area?” but I already know they aren’t focused. Usually, I'll get a little bit more definition but often the answer is still very broad.

“Married women with children, ages 35 to 60, and living in Canada” is not a target market. That is a very large group of people. Sure, a very large company like Proctor and Gamble can select a broad target market like this but they are selling products to a market that is $1 billion in revenues per year - huge. Most companies cannot market to a market that is that large.

In this article, I want to talk about 4 characteristics for selecting a target market. These are:

  1. A group of actual or potential customers (a buyer)

  2. Have a common need or want (a problem)

  3. That your product or service can satisfy (a solution)

  4. Have a way of communicating with each other (a network)

  5. A secure place to start (a beachhead)

A Buyer

This is obvious - you need a buyer. These are people who are buying or could potentially buy your product or service. The obvious assumption is that they have money. This is an easy assumption to make. Everyone has money. Every company has money. Money isn’t the issue. The issue is the level of priority. People and companies will spend money if they perceive that they have a problem and determine that your product or service can solve their problem. It’s almost that simple.

However, there’s a catch. If you have a small budget for marketing then you can’t afford to go after a large market, so you have to go small and by small, I mean very small. If you are running a business that targets other businesses (B2B) then the size of this market will be a hundred companies or less. You can expand to other target markets later but to being with, start small.

In his book, Crossing the Chasm”, Geoffrey Moore gives an excellent illustration:

Starting a fire is a problem that any Boy Scout or Girl Scout can solve. You lay down some bunched-up newspaper, put on some kindling and some logs, and then light the paper. Nothing could be easier. Trying to cross the chasm without taking a niche market approach is like trying to light a fire without kindling.

The bunched-up paper represents your promotional budget, and the log, a major market opportunity. No matter how much paper you put under that log, if you don’t have any target market segments to act as kindling, sooner or later, the paper will be all used up, and the log still won’t be burning.

This is such a good illustration - I love it. The lesson is that you can’t start a fire by holding a lit match to a log. You need to start with paper, which ignites the kindling, which heats up and lights smaller branches, and once this is nice and hot, you can add larger logs. But you can’t start with logs that are too big. Same goes for marketing. Start with a small market that is easily identifiable.

A Problem

Again, this concept is like a mantra, if the prospect doesn’t perceive that they have a problem, then they aren’t going to buy. Period.

Okay, occasionally we all make impulsive buys and realize later that we didn’t really need that copy of the National Inquirer as we were checking out at the grocery store. But at the time we had a need for information, specifically about a recent celebrity’s divorce. Once we got home, however, we realized that the headline is just a made up story by some writer who is anticipating a divorce because the married celebrities were at different parties on the same night. We had a problem, we did an impulse buy, and we still have a problem. “Well, that was a waste of $5.00.” But I digress.

As a rule: No Problem equals No Sale.

One of the main reasons for marketing is to find customers who have a specific problem and bring attention to your company and your products as a possible solution. Of course, there is more to it, but this is a good summary.

I like to illustrate this concept by describing a room full of kids who are sitting with nothing to do - bored. Some kids are on the floor, some are sitting at a table, and some are sitting on a couch. If one of the children spots a pillow holds it above their head, then most of the kids will pay attention and try to get the pillow. On its own, the pillow had no value but with a little bit of attention, all of a sudden, the pillow has value and the kids want it. The problem, in this case, is that the kids were bored, and the pillow added some much-needed entertainment. Adults may be a little more sophisticated, but they really aren’t much different.

A Solution

This is where marketing gets tricky. Of course, every problem is looking for a solution. But for any specific problem, there is often a multitude of solutions. For example, if a business that is struggling to generate revenue (a problem), any of the following could be “a solution”:

  • Re-brand

  • Update the website

  • Optimize the website (SEO)

  • Create a landing page and lead nurturing campaign

  • Fire up some ads on Google

  • Create a video

  • Hire a salesperson

  • Offer a discount

  • Start networking

  • Host an event

  • The list is almost endless

Because there are so many “solutions” and so many companies offering “solutions” your company has to stand out. It has to be distinctive - unique. If you are offering the same solution as your competitor, then to get the sale your only option is to reduce your price. Who wants to do that? Lots of companies discount in order to get a sale but they shouldn’t. What they should do is figure out how to provide a solution that is unique and better.

A Network (Tip #1)

Up to this point, I’m sure that everything I have written is common knowledge. Most of us - all of us - have heard all these points before. But there is one characteristic of a target market that most articles and books don’t point out and that is this: People in the target market need to be able to communicate with each other. They need to be a group, or members of an association or meet together. The target market needs to be a network.

“Why?” you ask. The answer is that it makes your job much, much easier. If one or two people in the network like what you do, then they will tell others. There are other advantages:

  • It’s easy to identify

  • It’s cheaper to reach this group

  • It’s quicker to establish your brand

  • It’s a better way to build credibility

  • It helps the marketer focus

Tip #1 - The target market has to be a network and able to communicate with each other.

A Beachhead (Tip #2)

If you want to get off on the right foot with your marketing efforts, then two things are critical. You must identify a target market niche that has a network (Tip #1) and you have to establish a beachhead (Tip #2). If you don’t, you are doomed.

Again, let’s hear what Geoffrey Moore uses as an illustration:

For guidance, we are going to look back to an event in the first half of this century, the Allied invasion of Normandy on D Day, June 6, 1944. To be sure, there are more current examples of military success, but this particular analogy relates to our specific concerns very well.

The comparison is straightforward enough. Our long-term goal is to enter and take control of a mainstream market (Eisenhower’s Europe) that is currently dominated by an entrenched competitor (the Axis). For our product to wrest the mainstream market from this competitor, we must assemble an invasion force comprising other products and companies (the Allies). By way of entry into this market, our immediate goal is to transition from an early market base (England) to a strategic target market segment in the mainstream (the beaches at Normandy). Separating us from our goal is the chasm (the English Channel). We are going to cross that chasm as fast as we can with an invasion force focused directly and exclusively on the point of attack (D Day). Once we force the competitor out of our targeted niche markets (secure the beachhead), then we will move out to take over additional market segments (districts of France) on the way toward overall market domination (the liberation of Europe).

That’s it. That’s the strategy. Replicate D Day, and win entry to the main- stream. Cross the chasm by targeting a very specific niche market where you can dominate from the outset, force your competitors out of that market niche, and then use it as a base for broader operations. Concentrate an overwhelmingly superior force on a highly focused target. It worked in 1944 for the Allies, and it has worked since for any number of high-tech companies.

Case Example

I have a client that is offering customized tours based on historical events in Europe related to WWI and WWII. Susan Raby-Dunne’s business is called Canadian War History Tours. The beachhead she is establishing is with surgeons in Canada who had a relative who fought in one of the world wars.

Let’s see if Susan’s approach fits our criteria:

A Buyer - Yes, many surgeons have relatives who fought in one of the World Wars and have money for travel

A Problem - This isn’t solid but it’s a good guess that at least 5-10% of the surgeons in Canada had a relative in one of the world wars and they would be interested in retracing their footsteps. More than 600,000 Canadians enlisted for WWI and more than 1 million Canadians fought in WWII.

A Solution - Yes, Susan has the solution. She will develop a customized tour for couples or small groups. See:

A Network - Yes, without a doubt, surgeons are a part of a network and they have numerous ways to communicate. All are part of the Canadian Medical Association.

A Beachhead - Yes, of the 10,224 surgeons in Canada, Susan has to start somewhere.

Surgical Specialists in Canada

The obvious beachhead is orthopedic surgeons. One of Susan’s specialties is John McCrae who wrote the poem “In Flanders Fields”. She has written a book called Bonfire - The Chestnut Gentleman that tells the story of how John McCrae wrote this famous poem. It is written from the perspective of John McCrae’s horse, Bonfire. It is a spectacular story that is well written. You can read more here: John McCrae was a medical doctor and a Lieutenant Colonel. It’s a pretty good guess that he did many surgeries related to orthopedics. As a result, this is a good starting point for Susan.


I suspect that most business owners are tired of marketers talking about “audiences”, “target markets”, and “niches”. It is my hope with this article adds a couple of characteristics that will make it easier to understand the importance of targeting a niche that has a network and establishing a beachhead.


Geoffrey A. Moore, Crossing The Chasm, 1991,

Jennifer Yesbeck, The Importance of Targeting in Marketing (And How to Include It in Your Strategy), February 2018,

Kevin Namaky, 7 Characteristics to Define Your Marketing Target, February 2017,

Michael Port, Book Yourself Solid, 2003,

Using Tiny Habits to Change Your Life

Every once in a while I come across something on the Internet that is actually useful. The website that I’m going to talk about today is But let me start by telling you about the journey that brought me to this site.

My Wife and the Weight I Lost

It all started with my wife, Josephine Mazonde, who is a nurse. We both started exploring different diets a few years ago. As I have mentioned to some people I lost about 35 lbs in 2017 using a version of the keto diet. For me, this was a rewarding adventure - one of the top 10 achievements in my life.

One of the results of our research was that Josie started a business offering consulting and coaching to clients who wanted to lose weight. One target group that she focused on was men who wanted to reduce the size of their pot bellies. As part of her effort to work with this group, she developed and hosted a workshop called Lose 30 Pounds and Gain an Inch. It was a wonderful success.

22 Pushups

Tony is a friend of mine and he attended the workshop. During the course of Josie’s presentation (which I attended for maintenance reasons), Tony mentioned that he had been doing 22 pushups every day for the past year. I was impressed and I was curious about why the number 22. Why not 10 or 25 or 55 - why 22? Tony explained that this was a social trend in support of US military veterans with whom there was an average rate of 22 suicides per day. To be honest, I was shocked. In 100 days that is 2000 suicides. In a year that is 6500 people who have died from taking their own lives. All military personnel who had survived the battlefield. I wasn’t aware of the social campaign - this was the first I heard of it.

In response to Tony’s leadership, I made a commitment to try and do 22 pushups per day. I started but I failed. My commitment was low. My motivation was low. I just plumb forgot.

1000 Pushups (in one day)

However, a couple of months ago, I came across an article on Medium called How Completing 1000 Pushups Made Me a More Productive Writer by Kori D. Miller. The word “pushups” caught my eye and reminded me of my failed commitment. The number “1000” caught my attention especially when I figured out that this was 1000 pushups in one day. And then the name “Kori” nailed my interest because I suspected that the writer, and the person who had done 1000 pushups, was a woman - a very determined woman. Impressed - I read more.

It is true, Kori did 1000 pushups in one day! She started in August 2018. She calculated that if she added 25 pushups every day that she would reach her goal by mid-December. It wasn’t easy but she did it.

Tiny Habits

Then I read a sentence in her article that has had a profound effect on me: “Why I didn’t think to apply the TinyHabitsMethod developed by BJ Fogg to my writing, I have no idea.”

My mind asked the obvious question, “What is a tiny habit?” Well, I’ll tell you. Tiny Habits was developed by BJ Fogg. He is a behavioral scientist from Stanford University. In a nutshell, it’s a method to develop and maintain a habit within 5 days. Seriously!

Don’t start by thinking about what habits you want to change. Start by joining the program - it FREE - ( and it will all become clear. It’s brilliant. It’s easy. It’s rewarding.

I selected 3 habits to start:

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I’m now doing at least 22 pushups every day (many days I do more but I haven't committed to do 1000 in one day, yet).
I’m now flossing my teeth every morning.
Every day, I write down at least one thing that I’m grateful for.
In addition to these habits, I feel stronger and more confident. It’s great.

I encourage you to try it.

Online Marketing: Cost vs Effort Diagram

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I have been doing online marketing for our company and for our clients for a long time - I don’t care to say how long, but long. The other day it dawned on me that some tactics that we use are easy to do and other tasks take a lot of work. Similarly, some marketing activities are very inexpensive, while other campaigns require a significant investment. 

Based on this premise, I developed a 2-by-2 diagram to illustrate both continuums and marketing tactics that are associated with different points on the axes. After I created the diagram, I realized that there was a natural progression through the different tactics.  I'll start by explaining the 2 axes, then I'll describe each quadrant, and finally outline one way of progressing through the different quadrants and related tactics. 

Cost Axis
It should be no news to anyone that some marketing tactics are cheap and require very little investment, whereas other campaigns can be dauntingly expensive. Of course, your comfort level with how much you are willing to invest usually depends on your expected rate of return. 

Most business owners that I talk to say that they are willing to invest in marketing if there is a reasonable return at a reasonable cost per customer acquisition. But when I ask them to invest a few thousand dollars each month, quite a few people get cold feet. Usually, they have had one too many experiences where they invested in marketing and nothing happened, or they got very little return. This experience of little or even negative return creates anxiety and rightly so. My thinking is that if you have been burnt in the past, then most likely, you invested too much too quickly. 

My suggestion is to cut back on your marketing investments and focus on tactics that are cheaper but require more effort. At least, lost effort is not lost money. 

Effort Axis
Of course, there is a trade-off. If you reduce your investment in marketing too much you won't acquire any new customers and some of your existing customers will drift away to your competitors. If you don't want a drop in revenue and you don't want to invest money in marketing they the only alternative is to put in more effort - often lots of effort. 

As you can see from the diagram, some tactics are easy to do and take very little effort. Other tactics require a high level of commitment, time and energy. 

I should note before I get too deep into the tactics for each quadrant that my assumption is that you have registered a domain name and that you have a responsive website that looks great, works well, and portrays your company accurately. Not all companies require a website, but most do and if your company is bigger than a solepreneur then you need a well-functioning website. 

Quadrant A - Low Cost / Low Effort
This is where you should start. The dollar investment is low and the time invested is relatively low. Let’s look at each tactic in this quadrant.

1) Google My Business
Google has already done a lot of the work for you. More than likely if you go to Google Maps and search for your company, it will be listed. The listing will have the company name, the address and a phone number. All you have to do is claim it, check the details, and add some photos. There can be more to do later like optimizing the listing and getting reviews, but this is a good place to start. 

2) Customer Reviews
What can be easier than getting your customers to write reviews for you? Simple and cheap. Well, that may be a slight exaggeration, but getting customers to work on your behalf by writing reviews is a great way to build your online reputation and draw in new customers. To speed up the process and get a higher number of reviews, we encourage our clients to do the following:

  • Create a card about the size of a postcard with the addresses of the sites that you want customers to review

  • Hand the card out to anyone who you think will give you a good review

  • Add an incentive like a coffee card to encourage more customers to do the review

  • Send out an email to your customer list asking for a review

Here is a link to an example of a review request card developed by one of our clients and how to deal with negative reviews:
Here is a link to a case study that I wrote a few years ago: 

3) Posting on Social Media Platforms
For companies whose customers are consumers, post to the following platforms:

  • Facebook

  • Instagram

  • Pinterest

  • YouTube

If your clients are other business, then you may want to do one or all of those platforms in addition to LinkedIn. 

Of course, there is more to it that selecting a couple platforms and posting. You need topics that are relevant to your audience, stories that are interesting, images that are eye-catching, and videos that are engaging. That’s where the effort comes in. 

Note: If you can take a short cut from A (easy and cheap) to D (easy and expensive) and many companies do but be very careful, you can spend a lot of money very quickly with a very poor return. 

Quadrant B: Low Cost / High Effort
If you have mastered the tactics in the first quadrant then you can move on to tactics that at still require very little investment in money but take more time and effort. 

4) Blogging and eNewsletter
Blogging is cheap. Pick a topic, write a bunch of paragraphs, add a picture and publish. Done. Okay, I hear you. It’s not quite that simple. This blog post and enewsletter is taking me upwards of 6 hours. I started the diagram on paper, then I created a version on Google Slides, next I sent it to a few friends for review, which led to some revisions, and now I’m writing the text. But you get the idea: cheap but brutal when it comes to time.

5) Handheld Videos
Again creating handheld videos is cheap. Grab your iPhone or Droid, pick a subject, take the shot, and publish to YouTube. If you want to get fancy, you can embed the video back to your blog post. Here’s an example that I did recently: Longview Lull: Longview Jerky Shop 
Here is video interview by Mario Toneguzzi with his Calgary news site, Five questions with Tony Spoletini of Spolumbos

6) Search Engine Optimization
The beauty of SEO, if you optimize your pages correctly, is that you get a bump in visitors for free, AND you get a credibility boost. However, SEO takes time and skill. You can learn to do this yourself, you can take a course or you can hire -- us. We would be happy to help you out.

Note: Again you can take a short cut from Quadrant B to Quadrant C but the level of risk increases. For example, if you don’t have an adequate lead nurturing campaign in place that is automated, you can spend a lot of money driving people to your website and you lose them all to a competitor that has an offer and drip marketing campaign that results in prospects learning more about the company and what they are offering. 

Quadrant C: High Cost / High Effort
This is the worst quadrant because you get pressure from both cost and effort. Not all is doom and gloom. Marketing automation should lead to less time, eventually, and better conversion rates, Higher quality videos should lead to a wider reach and more prospects.

7) Lead Nurturing 
The idea with marketing automation software is to set up a landing page, with a compelling offer, collect the email addresses of those who respond, and then using automated emails you nurture these prospects toward a sale. Let me tell you, this is easier than you would ever hope. You have to have every component just right including:

  • Target audience

  • Interrupt message

  • Landing page

  • Compelling offer

  • Email messages

  • Open rates

  • Click through rates

  • Conversion rates

  • And what technology to use for each step in the process

It can get overwhelming quite quickly and quite easily. And for most entrepreneurs and small business owners, this is a long way from their forte. The end result is that they end up wasting time, effort and money. It is better to hire a professional, either or in-house as a consultant. BTW, we do marketing automation and lead nurturing for our clients - hire us. 

8) Professional Videos
If done right, these can go viral. Let me give you 2 examples:
WestJet Christmas Miracle: Real-time Giving - 48,461,746 views, Wow! - 2,893,120 views, Impressive for a local camera store

Again, not easy to do but not ridiculously expensive either. In both cases, the companies used employees, their own equipment and a cheap location. Admittedly, Westjet did a bit of PR to “prime-the-pump” but still this is incredible exposure for them at a very low cost per view - much cheaper than a paid ad during the Super Bowl. Likewise, The Camera Store, has leveraged the audience for this video into views for the product reviews that they do, more visits to their website and store, and a solid reputation here in Calgary. 

Quadrant D: High Cost / Low Effort
Oddly, this is where many companies start. We often get contacted by companies that want to do Google Search ads, Google Display ads, or Facebook ads long before they have done all the background work to build a reputation and manage the acquired leads. They seem to be stuck in marketing tactics of the 00’s - before social media and marketing automation. They think they can get customers with minimal effort. On a rare occasion, this “branding” approach will work but often with smaller companies they can drop $10,000 on a pay-per-click campaign and get nothing. And telling these managers ahead of time can be futile - they just want to spend money and get easy wins. 

Like I said, sometimes it works to spend a bunch of money but often it doesn’t. You can’t boost-a-post and expect results if the post is crappy. You can’t expect a positive ROI if your website is ugly and sloppy. You can’t expect everyone to buy on impulse - prospects have to be educated and nurtured. Your products won’t sell if your reputation is in the toilet. 

9) Online Advertising
There are 2 reasons why you might want to invest in advertising. The first is to have a prospect click on the ad and go to a landing page or your website. This should lead to a sale right away, or if you have a lead nurturing system in place, then a sale at some point in the future.

The second reason for advertising is for branding. By this, I’m referring to an increase in the probability that someone will associate your company with a specific product (Apple and iPhone), type of product (GoDaddy and website hosting), or a solution to a specific problem (a realtor and selling - or buying - a home). 

As I implied earlier, don’t spend money on advertising until you have your ducks all in a row:

  • A website that is compelling, responsive, accurate and working

  • Google My Business listing that you have claimed and optimized

  • Customers writing reviews on your company 

  • Social platforms with interesting posts

  • A blog and enewsletter with a significant audience

  • Web pages that have been optimized for search engines

  • Videos that are interesting

  • A lead nurturing system that has been tested and works

Once you have all these things in place, then go ahead and invest in higher levels of advertising. Sure, you can skip quadrants and some of the tactics that take a considerable amount of effort but be careful, you could end up wasting a lot of money on ads that don’t help you reach your targets.