Facebook Collection Ads Guide: Best practices, Ad specs and examples

Facebook Collection Ads Guide: Best practices, Ad specs and examples

People spend more time than ever on their phones, and 20% of that time is spent either on Facebook or Instagram. Naturally, this is how people discover new things, learn information, and make buying decisions. As a digital marketer, that means you must deliver fast-loading and engaging mobile experiences.

That’s why Facebook collection ads were created — to help you capture the attention of mobile shoppers and make it easier for them to discover, browse, and purchase in a more immersive way.

What are Facebook collection ads?

Facebook collection ads are a mobile-only format, designed to maximize the mobile user experience. Ads are found on both Facebook and Instagram. People who tap on collection ad are seamlessly taken to a fast-loading, fullscreen experience to browse or learn more about the ad offer:

This visual, post-click experience is powered by Instant Experience, so prospects don’t necessarily have to leave the Facebook or Instagram app to learn more:

How do Facebook collection ads work with Instant Experience?

Collection ads and Instant Experience work together to:

1. Generate intent

Collection ads drive discovery and attention by pairing media with relevant products for a more engaging mobile experience:

2. Nurture intent

After clicking the ad, users land on an Instant Experience ad that initiates engagement and nurtures interest and intent:

3. Harvest intent

Instant Experiences then send prospects to your website, post-click landing page, or app, which helps convert intent into action:

This process is ideal for retail, travel, dining, and any other ecommerce company with a lot of product visuals to show prospects.

Ad specs

Collection ads on Facebook feature a cover image or video, followed by 4 product images. On Instagram, they only feature 3 product images. On both platforms, the cover image or video is the first media asset from your full-screen experience.

There are also many other specifications and recommendations, including character limits and image size for Facebook collection ads.

Design specifications

Ad copy

  • Headline: 25 characters, appearing above the product images (not supported or visible on Instagram)
  • Body: 90 characters, appearing above the main creative


  • Aspect ratio: 16:9 or 1:1
  • Video: H.264 video compression, high profile preferred, square pixels, fixed frame rate, progressive scan
  • Audio: Stereo AAC audio compression, 128 kbps


  • Aspect ratio: 1.9:1 (16:9 or 1:1 on Instagram)
  • Size: 1,200 x 628 pixels


  • Aspect ratio: 16:9, 1:1, or 2:3 (automatically crops to 1:1 if each image is a different size)
  • Audio: Stereo AAC audio compression, 128 kbps
  • Music: WAV, MP3, M4A, FLAC, OGG (Note: You must have all legal rights necessary to use a song in your ad)

Supported objectives

  • Traffic
  • Conversions
  • Catalog sales
  • Store visits


  • Instant Storefront
  • Instant Lookbook
  • Instant Customer Acquisition
  • Instant Storytelling

How do the objectives help determine which template to use?

To choose the best template for your ad, you must consider your objectives. Here are some guidelines to help:

Instant Storefront
This template resembles the layout of a lifestyle magazine:

Use the Instant Storefront template if you:

  • Have a catalog of four or more products
  • Want to display your products in a grid so people can browse them in one place
  • Have one main video or image to highlight, followed by other related products
  • Want to drive people to your website or app to make a purchase
  • Want to dynamically organize products from your catalog into relevant groupings like “Suggested for You” and “Most Viewed”

Instant Lookbook
This template is ideal for fashion and other ecommerce brands:

Use the Instant Lookbook template if you:

  • Want people to see your products in action
  • Want to create a digital version of an existing print catalog
  • Want to tell a strong brand story while also encouraging product sales

Instant Customer Acquisition
This template functions as a mini post-click landing page with a clear CTA button:

Use the Instant Customer Acquisition template if you:

  • Want to drive conversions on your mobile post-click landing page
  • Want people to take a specific action on your website
  • Have high-quality images or videos that highlight your offers

Instant Storytelling
This template focuses on video:

Use the Instant Storytelling template if you:

  • Want to give people an engaging way to explore your business
  • Have interesting images or videos that tell a strong brand story
  • Want to encourage people to learn more on your website or app

Note: Currently, Instagram only supports the Instant Storefront template.

Collection ads best practices

1. Choose featured products wisely

In the Product section of setup, you decide how the 4 product images will show on your ad: dynamically or in a specific order. By selecting “Order dynamically,” you enable Facebook to choose 4 products from your catalog and product set, and display them based on popularity or likelihood of purchase:

You need at least 4 products in your set to create a collection ad, but it’s recommended to use a much larger product set (50+), in case products go out of stock.

Choose a specific order” allows you to select 4 specific images from your product set, by entering the names, product IDs, color variation, etc. of the products you want to add:

Selected product images aren’t ranked by likelihood of purchase in this case, but rather, the order you select them. Facebook recommends choosing a variety of products to appeal to more viewers.

2. Select the best cover visual

Cover videos typically generate up to 20% better interaction rates on collection ads than cover images. If your company doesn’t have any video assets, you can turn multiple images into an auto-playing slideshow of images, which performs just as well.

It’s also a good idea to use images and videos with people using the product, as these have been found to result in 3-5% higher click-through rates over time.

3. Focus on retargeting

Although collection ads have great conversion rates, not everyone will click through to your site. However, you can specifically retarget these individuals by creating custom audiences, and reminding them why they wanted to solve a problem with your product or service in the first place.

4. Drive traffic with external links

After clicking the ad and opening the full-screen Instant Experience, users can go to other pages (a product page, sales page, post-click landing page, etc.) by adding a CTA and external link to your campaign.

Smile Direct Club has their campaign set up perfectly, with the collection ad first:

Then the Instant Experience with a CTA button:

And finally a lead capture page that offers a free smile assessment:

Keep in mind, when you add a link to your ad, be sure to include a URL parameter so you can identify where your ad traffic is coming from.

5. Continually test your ads

Always A/B test ad elements, including:

  • Headlines
  • Offers
  • Ad copy
  • Cover visuals
  • Product images

While best practices are helpful, they don’t guarantee desired results. Be sure to continually test and optimize your ads and their various elements for the highest possible ROI.

Case studies

Collection ads can benefit many industries because as long as a company has product visuals to show, this ad format works. These three brands are prime Facebook collection ads examples:

1. Dollar Shave Club

To reach new audiences and drive member signups, Dollar Shave Club re-purposed some of their existing ad creative targeting US men aged 18-65:

Once clicked, they entered an interactive and engaging full-screen Instant Experience.

Using the same creative, Dollar Shave Club tested and compared the collection ad campaign against its traditional link ads. From May 15–30, 2017 the test resulted in:

  • 1.5X increase in new subscriptions
  • 30% decrease in cost per subscription
  • 1.6 million people reached

2. GameStop

Hoping to increase online and in-store product sales during the busy holiday shopping season, GameStop wanted to grab shoppers’ attention and promote multiple game products. They ran a series of six engaging collection ads that focused on the company’s holiday “Game Days Sale.” Each ad included four product images showcasing various games and consoles, with the messaging, “Up to 50% off the biggest games of the year:”

GameStop targeted the ads to a Custom Audience of PowerUp Rewards members in the US and a lookalike audience with characteristics similar to rewards program members. Once clicked, people went to a product page for additional information.

The results of this holiday campaign (December 17–24, 2017) showed:

  • 7.5X increase in incremental ROAS
  • 4% incremental lift in conversions
  • 6% incremental lift in sales

3. Adore Me

After a year-long hiatus from Facebook advertising, Adore Me returned with a revamped strategy to use the collection ad format to showcase its swimwear and increase online sales of its 2017 collection.

The company used a lifestyle cover image of a woman in a colorful bikini, and thumbnails of similar images, highlighting various pieces from the brand’s spring and summer line:

When clicked, the ad sent prospects to the online swimwear category page on the brand’s website. The campaign generated more sales at a lower cost than expected. Between March–April 2017, the campaign achieved:

  • 20% increase in website conversion rate
  • 32% lower CPA than goal
  • 23% of total purchases resulted from the collection ad

Complete your ad set with more options

Facebook Collection Ads complement any digital marketers advertising strategy by offering an engaging ad format that extends into a full-screen, interactive experience.

How to Sell a Product in 2019: The Future of Drop Shipping

How to Sell a Product in 2019: The Future of Drop Shipping

Running a successful eCommerce company takes more than just knowing WHAT products to sell – you need to know HOW to sell a product.

Knowing How to Sell a Product is Important for a Variety of Reasons:
  • It makes you money… obviously.
  • It invokes sustainability for your company.
  • It lets you focus on picking the perfect niche to sell in. More time can be spent picking a niche, and less time will be spent learning how to get conversions.
  • It forces you to understand and empathize with your customer.

How to Sell a Product in 2019

Over the years, many parts of the business machine have changed. The “ages” of business management and operational procedures evolved through the waves of execution, expertise, and empathy. The ethical umbrella that most businesses operate under today is different than what was commonplace 100 years ago.

But there are also many practices that have remained the same over time. As businesses, we will always need the customer.

In the Forbes article linked above, Robert Wallace writes that:

“Even as tech changes our processes and delivery mechanisms, we still need to have a clear idea of who we’re talking to, how to find them and what messages will resonate and convert them into paying customers.”

Adapting to the Future of Drop Shipping

Below are two common schools of thought when looking at the future of drop shipping:

  1. Some people believe that it’s too late to get into this business. I get asked, “Anton, isn’t everything saturated? Isn’t drop shipping just a trend that’s going to die?”
  1. Other people are already drop shipping and making money, but they aren’t sure what’s going to come next. They are curious as to what their business is going to look like in the next two to five years.

So some people think drop shipping is a trend, and others have no idea how to grow their business.

Here’s what I think:

There will indeed be some shifts in the drop shipping world. When?

I don’t know. I don’t spend my mornings deciphering the letters in my alphabet soup. I don’t claim to see the future.

But know that if you ever see any videos, blog posts, or headlines that say anything like “drop shipping is dead”… stay wary.

I don’t think that’s ever going to happen.

First off, drop shipping is just a way of fulfilling orders. That’s all drop shipping means. You as the retailer sell items on your online store, and the supplier ships those items.

Drop shipping is NOT like an eCommerce trend, or a trending niche. It won’t just “go out of style”

The drop shipping business model will never die. Manufacturers and brands will always need retailers to brand themselves. That’s the reality of retail.

3 Simple eCommerce Marketing Strategies you Need to Take More Seriously

I’m going to share three broad tips for selling a product.

As I mentioned earlier, the roots of marketing have stayed the same throughout history. Of course, we must adapt to current styles and trends, but the formula is simple: speak your customer’s language, get the sale.

Below are three strategies that will ensure you know how to sell a product, even when the future is uncertain.

This isn’t an all out guide – it’s a place for you to start. I provide information from industry experts like Derek Halpern, Empire Flippers, and Shopify. They are awesome. The community has A LOT to thank these people for, and Drop Ship Lifestyle is grateful for the impact these folks have had on digital marketing.

Let’s dive in.

1. Learn How to Sell a Product to Passionate People

It’s easier than ever to bring people into YOUR world – into YOUR eCommerce business.

Just put products they love right in front of them. Give them products they’re actually excited about.

Find a group of people that are passionate about a certain product type. Look at what they like, and what they don’t like. If you truly know your customer, you will be able to deliver relevant products and content.

But here’s the caveat… products don’t exactly sell themselves.

In this video, Derek Halpern shoots the breeze about why people don’t always buy what you sell.

“People rarely believe that what you do is as awesome as YOU believe it is” says Halpern.

He continues on to say that “you must realize that creating a good product or service is the cost of entry… and to succeed, you’ve got to sell it.

Halpern couldn’t be more right.

Yes, finding good products to sell is important. Finding passionate people to sell to is extremely important. If you don’t pick a good niche to sell in, you’re gonna lose sleep and hate yourself for it.


If you don’t know how to SELLthe product, you won’t make sales (aka, NO money for you).

So pick a niche that breeds awesome, passionate customers… then SELL TO THEM! There’s a million strategies for doing this. Check out more strategies on Social Triggers, or look at some of the selling techniques  we teach on the Drop Ship Lifestyle blog.

  • Put more effort and energy into new websites and new product types that people are passionate about.
  • Your audience needs to be passionate about what the product does or what they can use it for. Could it fuel their hobbies or help them with their career?

If you sell to a passionate audience, you will take advantage of opportunity as you move into the future of eCommerce. Your customers will stay with you, even if the going gets tough. They will love you, but again, you need to SELL to them. Read more about that in the next section.

2. Learn How to Sell a Product with Trust and Authority

Trust is a HUGE factor when selling online.

People always ask why someone would buy from their store over buying on Amazon.

Imean, why would someone choose to buy from [.generic example namehere.] when they could get the product on a super site that’s trustedall over the globe?

Methods to Build Trust

Marketers use little hacks to increase a store’s level of trust. We do things like:

  • Getting reviews from customers
  • Paying for different badges and trust seals to put on the website
  • Building a solid brand(I will talk about this at the end of the section)
  • Having other people vouch for you (what we will focus on for right now)

The latter point, “having other people vouch for you”, is my first suggestion for gaining trust and authority in your industry.


Partner with people in indirectly related industries. If other companies vouch for you, your customers will fall in love.

The trick is to find non-competitors who are involved in your circles. These people/companies/organizations will be interacting with the same people as you, having the same conversations, and they will be interested in the same products.

From here, you could: 

  • pay them to vouch for you
  • do a joint venture with them
  • or you could scratch each other’s backs by promoting one another’s products

This is known as influencer marketing. If these indirect competitors vouch for your product, talk about your product, or promote your product, it’s going to hold A LOT of weight for your business.

Influencer marketing will definitely increase your conversions. Not only it will send you people, but it’s going to make sure your site stands out as an authority in your space.

This is one of the areas where marketing is taking somewhat of a new turn in the future. Yes, influencer marketing has always existed… but not in the vast universe of social media and the internet.

Times are a changin’ for sure.

Focus on Good Branding

Empire Flippers wrote a fantastic article on the importance of good branding.

In this piece, Gina Edwards reminds us to “keep in mind the intended effects of branding — promise, loyalty, and differentiation. Your brand should speak to how your business or services follows through on the things your customers are looking for, and you can build a relationship with them from there.”

Good Branding Does 3 Things:

Makes a Promise

Builds Loyalty & Recognition

Sets You Apart

If your brand effectively speaks to your customer, you will form a bond with them. Making promises you can deliver on is an effective way to build trust.

  • A great way to become a big player in your industry is to partner with other people in indirectly relatedindustries.
  • The more other authority figures vouch for you, the more trust and authority you will gain.
  • Building a brand builds trust.

My next point builds off of what Edwards wrote in the Empire Flippers blog. Branding brings opportunity…

3. Branding is the Icing on the Cake

One of the benefits that we have as independent retailers over huge shopping mall sites is customer access.

A site like Amazon targets EVERYONE. They sell everything from chicken nugget soap to carburetors. Your store, on the other hand, is able to target specific customers. This provides them with a unique and personalized experience.

Comprehensive Overview From the Pros

Shopify is an incredible source of information for up and coming entrepreneurs.

If you want some great starter info for building a brand, check out this little guide from Shopify.

The guide’s author, Braveen Kumar, states that

“Your brand is how people perceive you wherever they interact with your business—both the impressions you can control and the ones you can’t.”

Kumar gives some great tips for getting in the right mindset to build a brand that leaves the right impression for your audience. If you’re currently in the initial stages of the branding process, you need to read this. You could be missing something vital to your branding endeavors.

Taking the Next Step

Once you build a niche-specific drop shipping store, and once you’re consistently making sales, it’s time to take the leap.

You need to build your own product line.

While this isn’t absolutely necessary, I think it’s the next logical step in the process of growth for your eCommerce business. Even if you’re just private labeling a few products, a product line makes a massive difference. Not only will you be more profitable, but you’ll expand your reach.

If you go with creating your own brand and product line, your products could even end up being sold in your competitors’ stores. There are plenty of benefits to this:

  • More money
  • A little more work
  • But more opportunities (not just to your drop shipping store, but with your new brand!)

Discovering How to Sell a Product is Worth It… Even if it Takes Some Work


  1. Get into product types that people are passionate about.
  2. Build trust and authority in your space. You want to be someone that people talk about – someone that your indirect competitors are linked to.
  3. You’ll want to create a brand within your space [AFTER you’re already successful – making money and sales].

I’m always down to chat, so feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.

Thanks for reading!

How to Maximize Facebook Lead Gen Ads for Your Business

How to Maximize Facebook Lead Gen Ads for Your Business

Initially, Facebook was created to make people socialize with their friends and relatives. However, as the popularity of the website grew exponentially, it gradually turned into a platform where businesses can promote their products and services while engaging with their target audience. Now, companies across the globe leverage Facebook as a powerful advertising platform. While most ad types are straightforward, lead gen ads prove to be a bit complicated. Keep reading to learn how you can maximize lead gen ads to generate more targeted customers.

As the name suggests, lead gen ads help B2C, B2B, or lead generation companies to drive more quality leads and boost their sales volume. But lead gen ads aren’t only useful for e-commerce websites. They can also be used to extract insightful customer information which you can use to create more laser-targeted ads. If you are not familiar with the ways to use lead gen ads, here are a few ideas that will help:

1. Facebook contests

Facebook users love quirky rewards from a quick poll or contest. You can use the lead gen ads where users will participate from Facebook instead of visiting your website. The trick is to gather customer information by asking them to fill out the personal fields in your questionnaire or survey form to stand a chance to win a prize. You can also customize the questions if you are looking for a new slogan for your company or want the customers to decide the type of content they want to see. The idea is to capture custom information to engage with the audience further and initiate a conversation that ultimately leads to a conversion.

2. Sign up for emails and newsletters

Creating an urge among potential customers can considerably increase the sales of your company. Email updates and newsletters are the perfect ploys to make prospective customers visit your website. Lead gen ads have been highly successful in this regard. You only need the email address of the Facebook user to sign up for your mailing list. As soon as you acquire the email ID, you can send regular emails and news about your company and the types of products and services you offer. This will create the urge that otherwise would have remained dormant because the customer had an interest in the products, but didn’t feel the need to rush on it.

3. Incorporate SEO into your Facebook Ads

What’s great about using Facebook lead gen ads is that it gives you a lot of options, and this means plenty of things to test and play around with. For example, you can set up multiple ads targeting different demographics and pointing to different pages on your website. You can conduct an A/B test to see which ads and pages convert the most customers. Another trick often used by SEO services in Chicago is pointing Facebook ads toward previous high-performers. If you have pages on your site that attained Google first page rankings but fell off, driving fresh, relevant, and targeted traffic can bring them back to life.

Lead gen ads have changed the way businesses reach out to their customers. These ads serve as a tool that can increase your sales volume by targeting your audience in ways that most likely leads to a conversion.

Steps to Get Instagram Influencer Marketing Right

Steps to Get Instagram Influencer Marketing Right

Influencer marketing can be a great way to get your product to a new audience in the digital age. It can be more budget-friendly than traditional advertising, and it is very effective because people view influencers as friends who can be trusted to suggest the right products.

If all of these benefits sound great to you, you probably want to rush out and find Instagram influencers right now. However, businesses new to influencer marketing can make mistakes that harm them instead of helping. If you want to get things right, you need to take the time to research and plan carefully. Follow these steps to build your influencer marketing strategy.

Step 1: Create Clear Goals

The first thing you need to do is think about what you hope to achieve from your marketing. Is your main goal getting more people to visit your stores or do you just want to raise general brand awareness on social media? Some people want to gain more followers for their business, increase profits, or expand their market to a new area. Think about this carefully so that you can develop the right approach.

Step 2: Find Influencers to Work With

Step 2 is essentially the most important part of this whole guide. No social media campaign can run smoothly if you are trying to use influencers that are a poor fit for your brand. Of course it is helpful to find Instagram influencers with a high follower count and a strong presence in your desired industry, but there are more metrics to consider. Check to see how engaged the influencer’s audience is, and consider the influencer’s type of follower to make sure they can market to your desired audience. Some companies find it better to work with smaller influencers that have a very devoted following in a specific niche while others do best with bigger celebrities that reach a more general audience. You may also want to research the influencer to ensure they do not have any past controversies.

Step 3: Consider How to Reach Your Audience

It is important to remember that “influencer marketing” is actually a broad subject. When you decide to increase your social media presence, think about how you actually plan to do that. Do you want influencers to show themselves using your product in passing or do you want them to do an in depth review? Things like having an influencer run a contest where their followers win your products or getting an influencer to collaborate with you and create branded products can generate a lot of interest.

Step 4: Get the Influencers Onboard

If you followed step 2 correctly, then you should have a substantial list of influencers you would like to work with. However, finding Instagram influencers is only half the battle. You also have to get them to work with you. Many influencers are very selective, so you need to craft a pitch that appeals to them. In general, it is helpful to make a pitch that acknowledges the influencer’s worth to your company and shows how your company aligns with their own personal brand.

Step 5: Stay on Brand

Most influencers want a lot of freedom in how they will promote your product, but this does not mean you should just give them money or perks, walk away, and hope for the best. Instead, you may want to craft a general marketing guide to give to influencers. Let them know about key parts of your product or service they should highlight, and give them lists of topics, words, or other brands you do not want mentioned in the post. You may even want to craft a mood board that captures the general style of post you appreciate. Give the influencer plenty of freedom to discuss your product in a way that works for them, but provide gentle guidelines to ensure all influencer marketing remains on brand for you.

This might sound like a lot of work, but it can actually be very simple when you have a good marketing team. Taking the time to properly plan your marketing strategy can ensure that you build an online social media presence that benefits your business.

What Is Marketing?

What Is Marketing?

Let’s face it, to the average business person, marketing equals promotion.

Marketing is what you say and how you say it when you want to explain how awesome your product is and why people should buy it.

Marketing is an ad. Marketing is a brochure. Marketing is a press release. And more recently, Marketing is a Facebook page or a Twitter account.

Let’s face it, to the average business person, marketing equals promotion.

Marketing is what you say and how you say it when you want to explain how awesome your product is and why people should buy it.

Marketing is an ad. Marketing is a brochure. Marketing is a press release. And more recently, Marketing is a Facebook page or a Twitter account.

Quick Takeaways:

  • At a fundamental level, marketing is the process of understanding your customers, and building and maintaining relationships with them.
  • Marketing is the key to an organization’s success, regardless of its size.
  • There are several types and sub-types of marketing, digital and offline. You should determine and pursue the ones that work best for you.
  • Marketing and Sales teams need to have a unified approach. Automation helps them work towards the same goals.


There I was, minding my own business, resting after completion of an amazing content marketing strategy workshop for a client. And someone asked about my opinion on the difference between marketing and branding.

I was directed to read this cartoon that defines marketing as “I am a great lover” vs branding which shows the consumer saying “I understand you’re a great lover.”

This got me a little fired up. OK, a lot fired up!

I’ve already tried to define what marketing is many times here. I’ve tried to address the common perception of marketing as being all about promoting and selling. And I’ve taken on the problem of advertising, mad men and their “big” ideas, and the sheer idiocy of banner ads.

I believe marketing has a marketing problem. Ask most people what marketing is and they think of some form of either selling (I am great and you should choose me because of reason A or B) or advertising (buy our stuff and you will have a better life, be more attractive, have more sex, attract better partners, be happier.)

As the global economy settles into a new normal of consistent doubt, Marketing has an identity problem, a brand perception gap, maybe even a crisis of confidence.

“Business has only two functions – marketing and innovation.”

~ Milan Kundera

When I transitioned out of a successful sales career almost 3 years ago, most of my peers thought I was crazy. The head of our division hung up on me (it wasn’t the first time).

Increasingly, after more and more conversations with real customers, I had bought in to the idea that marketing represented the future. I sold what was “in the sales bag.”

But I wanted to help shape the future. Naive? Probably. Delusional? Certainly. Possible? Definitely!

“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.”

~ Peter F. Drucker

Marketing is not about who can talk faster, or close better. It is about deep psychological understanding of customer needs. Steve Jobs had this gift better than almost any example. Henry Ford. Thomas Edison. Every innovation in the history of the world combined an uncanny understanding of human needs and the innovative vision to deliver it.

“Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department.”

~ David Packard

If business is composed of marketing and innovation, and marketing is about deep customer insights, then marketing is the job of every employee.

Social media has only made this point painfully clear: every employee is an extension of the brand. The brand serves to meet the needs of the customer and the business serves to innovate.

Marketing starts by asking consumers who they are, what they want, and what they care about. Marketing starts with a question. Marketing is not “I am a great lover.” Effective marketing simply asks “How are you?”


I learned in college that marketing is a conversation. Marketing is the conversation that starts between two people who don’t know each other well. Great conversations lead to understanding needs. Great insights like this lead to amazing products delivered through engaging customer experiences.This is Marketing.

When I meet someone I don’t know, I ask them questions. I try to get to know them. I try to understand their dreams and problems and needs. I do NOT talk about myself unless there is a genuine interest from the other person to learn about me as well. But this only comes from true and authentic empathy. I have to actually care about this other person to earn their trust.

This conversation continues as we get to now each other better. And like human relationships, the brands who continue into deeper connections are the ones who seem to care more about the other person than they do about themselves.

The brands who win more customers are the ones who put their customers ahead of their desire to sell more stuff.

They show potential customers that they are interested in solving real problems. They don’t just act like they care. They actually care and they prove it in the way they act. They genuinely seek to help their customer to improve their lives through their content, their expertise, their passion and, if they are lucky, through the stuff they sell.

And like in real life and common human interaction, Marketing means you have to give much more than you hope to receive. Great marketers are passionate teachers, giving away their expertise with only the hope that they are helping people. The business benefit is in establishing trust, and building an audience of people who believe in you to help them in times of need.

When given a choice, we only buy from brands we know, like and trust!


But how do you do you explain the power and importance of empathy to executives who don’t have any? How do you explain empathy when businesses only want to sell, and promote, and hang their logos on stadiums and golfers hats?

You have to show them that, as a society, we tune out ads, and promotion, and ego-driven marketing tactics. Promotion and propaganda don’t work in today’s world.

But we tune into content and brands that helps us. The only way to accomplish this is for brands to create content that actually helps people. And lots of it. Because we have been burned many times. We are skeptical. We are tired. And angry with auto-play video ads on the sites we like to visit.


Yeah I said it.

“Most of marketing is ineffective pushing, and that’s the stuff that we as consumers are tuning out.”

I’m sorry if that’s hard to hear. Hey, I’m one of you! I want to be a part of great, meaningful work that contributes to the success of a business.

it’s really hard to deny the point that much of marketing is broken. Look around you. Can you remember the last banner ad you saw?

I think that too much of marketing is tactical. The boss asks you to do something. The marketer goes and does it.And usually that thing is something promotional and ineffective. Partly because we don’t care if it’s effective. We only care if it gets done.

I believe we have to remind the boss what the brand stands for. Every business is started in order to solve a customer problem. The company grows and becomes successful because it created something unique and helpful. But as the business grows, too often the focus becomes the business, not the customer.

But your brand is more than what you sell!

But to be truly effective, shouldn’t marketing start with a focus on meeting customer needs? Marketing should be telling stories, not selling products. That’s why I define content marketing as the simple process of answering customer questions.

The business that wins becomes known and trusted as the brand that solves customer pain points along their buyer journey.

I believe that too many of us lose sight of that commitment, and that is why I think that in many businesses, marketing is broken.

There’s a huge a cultural element to this. I believe the executives inside the business need to be held accountable for creating a culture of customer-focused content. But it’s also up to us in marketing to push back.

I know it takes courage. I know it’s hard. But that’s the difference between the marketing that’s broken and the marketing that works.


I learned a long time ago that your brand is something that exists in the mind of your customer. Ads don’t change the perception of your brand. Branding is a judgment, a sentiment, a feeling, that is created by the sum of all the interactions I have with a company.

Only experiences change the perception of a brand in the mind of the customer. Brands must deliver amazing customer experiences. Not just in the products we sell, and how we well we deliver “features,” but in the way that we behave as companies, in the way your employees treat me, in the sum total of all those experiences, a brand is created.

I believe that Apple and Starbucks care about delivering great technology and good coffee. But I also believe that Apple delivers on the promise of easy to use products, simply and beautifully designed. I believe that Starbucks cares more about their impact on the world than selling more coffee.

True or not, this is the experience I have with these brands. This experience sits deeply inside my mind. And no advertisement, logo, or sales person could change that.


Marketing can impact the brand in a positive or negative way. Marketing can help create a positive brand experience by having positive, helpful, and empathetic conversations with their customers.

Marketers can hurt brands when they interrupt our TV shows and web experiences by showing ads of men with pretty girls on one arm and their product in the other.

Companies that think that a million dollars in sexist, promotional advertising, logos splashed everywhere, grumpy employees, and aggressive sales people are simply lost. They don’t understand the world we live in.

Marketing helps build brands through great experiences.

In the perfect world, marketing supports building strong brands. Great brands do great marketing. They act as teachers to their audiences. They deliver amazing products. They treat their employees with respect. They act like concerned global citizens, thinking of the generations to come. And they consider the planet that their children will inherit.

Great brands show us who they are in the experiences they deliver. Marketing seeks to understand what a great experience should be. Advertising interrupts our experiences and sometimes we don’t hate them for it.


Advertising is great, for brands who can afford to interrupt the content we want to consume. I appreciate some ads that tell a great story or are very clever and open about interrupting my content with something emotional or funny. But I honestly don’t even remember the brands behind many of the ads that made me laugh the most.

I appreciate Dove for “Real Beauty.” I give them credit for what they were trying to do. I am sad that they stopped.

Interestingly, the brands I mentioned earlier, Starbucks and Apple, do very little advertising. The best ad ever was Apple’s 1984, which told a story of disruption in a compelling way. But it was backed up and followed by products that truly changed my life.

But if we’re being honest, we don’t want to be advertised to, any more than we want to be sold to. And this is true especially for stuff we don’t need.

When a site plays an auto-play video ad, I hate them for it. But I hate the brand even more. Because I know they are the one paying for it. Publishers have to make a living. So I give them some slack. But the brand gets the brunt of my frustration.

So we have moved beyond a time of tolerating ads to actually having interrupted ad-driven experiences cause us to think negatively about them.


For those who think that marketing is the same thing as advertising, nothing could be further from the truth. Advertising can certainly be one small part of a marketing plan but it’s only one piece of the puzzle. Indeed, it’s possible to work from a marketing strategy that doesn’t utilize advertising at all.

Marketing can roughly be split into offline and online or digital methods. Offline marketing consists of “traditional” advertising in print, radio, and television marketing, as well as attending events like tradeshows, fairs and conferences. It can also include word-of-mouth marketing.

Most businesses will use a combination of online and offline marketing methods. However, these days the balance is shifting more towards online marketing. This is because consumers are increasingly spending more time online and digital marketing offers various advantages in terms of speed, efficiency, and ROI.

So let’s look at some of the different types of online marketing that are available to today’s businesses:

  • Content marketing – Publishing content in different forms to build brand awareness and nurture relationships with customers. Content marketing is usually thought of as a type of digital marketing but it can also take place offline. Examples of content marketing include blogs, posts on social media, infographics, and video.
  • Search engine optimization – Commonly known as SEO, this is the process of optimizing the content on your website to make it more visible to search engines and attract more traffic from searches.
  • Search engine marketing – Also known as pay-per-click or PPC, with this type of marketing businesses pay to have a link to their site placed in a prominent position on search engine result pages
  • Social media marketing – Using social networks like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to build relationships with existing customers and reach a wider audience through digital word-of-mouth.
  • Email marketing – Sending regular email communications to users who have signed up to your list to build relationships and drive sales.
  • Retargeting – Contacting existing or potential customers after they have already had an interaction with your brand to get them to come back or convert into a sale. For example, placing an advert on their Facebook feed of a particular product they’ve looked at on your site.
  • Influencer marketing – Using individuals with a high profile and many followers on social network channels to promote your product or service.

These are just a few examples of the most popular types of digital marketing in play today. Each of these methods can be broken down into several other types of marketing and there are indeed hundreds or thousands of different types of marketing covering both online and offline channels.

No business relies on just one form of marketing. On the other hand, unless you’re a multinational corporation with a practically unlimited budget and resources, it’s not possible to tackle all different forms of marketing either.

To form an effective marketing strategy for your individual business, you must select the types of marketing that will be most effective for you, and form a plan in which they are integrated into a master strategy.

image source: https://ontopvisibility.com/the-elements-of-a-successful-digital-marketing-strategy/


Sales and marketing are closely linked but they cover very distinct activities in your business.

The sales team doesn’t have any say in what the product is or who buys it – they simply take leads and convince them to buy. Employees working in sales must build close relationships with your customers and they need intelligence from marketing in order to do this.

The marketing team provides these leads by informing potential customers about your brand and product. They also use customer feedback and intelligence to decide what products to produce in the future or how to change existing products so they meet the customer needs better.

You won’t be effective at selling unless the people you are selling to already have some awareness about your brand or product – this is what marketing can do for you.

For a successful strategy, marketing and sales teams need to work closely together and have a unified approach. This ensures that only good-quality leads are passed to the sales team.

You can use a marketing automation platform to align your marketing and sales teams to ensure they’re working more efficiently towards a common goal.


In marketing, knowing your customer is key. In fact, some marketers go so far as saying that marketing is essentially the process of understanding your customers.

Marketing should start right at the beginning of your business journey, before your brand even takes form. This initial marketing involves research and learning more about your customers in order to develop a product or service that meets their wants and needs.

This in-depth customer research isn’t a one-off marketing task, but one that is continuous. Focus groups, customer surveys, and collecting user data online are all ways that can help you to learn more about your evolving customer base and ensure that your brand is communicating with them in the right ways.

After a particular product or service has been introduced to the market, its success must be evaluated to see if it’s meeting customer needs. Marketing also plays a part in customer service and nurturing customer relationships. It’s not just about attaining new customers, but also making sure you get the most out of your existing customers and that they stick around for as long as possible.

Digital marketing has opened up a new world of possibilities when it comes to understanding your customers better and building relationships with them.

We now have the ability to collect a vast amount of data about individuals including their demographics, location, shopping habits, previous brand interactions, likes and dislikes, and more.

This data can be used to build a picture of your customers in a way that’s much more accurate and meaningful than the traditional “customer avatar” exercise.

Some of the other ways that today’s modern marketing technology enables us to learn more about and grow better relationships with customers include:

  • Using hyper-personalized messages to speak to each customer on an individual level
  • Predicting future behavior with artificial intelligence
  • Publishing content that’s more relevant to your audience
  • Seeing what other content they’re engaging with online
  • Analyzing brand interactions and optimizing your marketing campaigns
  • Automatically staying in touch and nurturing customer relationships after the initial sale
  • “Listening in” and talking about your brand on social media – and using it to improve your products and customer service
  • Conducting customer surveys easily, cheaply, and with instantly analyzed results


The “marketing mix”, also known as “the 4 Ps” of marketing are considered to be the foundation of your marketing plan. They represent the main decisions you will have to make when marketing your products or services:

  • Product – what will your product or service actually be and how does it meet the needs of your customer?
  • Pricing – what price will you set your product at? This is not always a monetary figure as customers may exchange their time or information for a “free” product.
  • Place – how do you deliver the product to the customer? Do they come into a physical store or do you sell online? Are you targeting a particular geographic region?
  • Promotion – what marketing methods will you use to tell the world about your product?

Getting the marketing mix right means you’ll be able to align with your customers’ wants and needs, strengthen your brand presence, and maximize your ROI.

The concept of the 4Ps marketing mix was thought up well before the internet became a part of normal everyday life, but it can be adapted pretty easily to form the basis for developing a marketing strategy in today’s digital world.

In the digital marketing mix, the 4 Ps are the same, but the approach is different.

  • Product – The internet means that you can have a business with no physical inventory. Instead, you can sell digital products such as e-books and courses. Even if you do sell tangible products, the process of product development has been forever changed. It’s now possible to order and create products on-demand to test out the market first, and the ability to survey your customers quickly and easily means you’re less likely to make mistakes when it comes to product development.
  • Price – Digital marketing technology means that you don’t have to decide on a single price for your product or service – you can dynamically adjust the price depending on who’s viewing it. There’s also more flexibility when it comes to pricing models, with subscriptions and recurring payments made more accessible to businesses and customers of all kinds.
  • Place – Clearly the main difference here is you’re selling online instead of in a bricks-and-mortar store. But there are also many different channels to explore when it comes to selling online. Your own website, online market places, email, and social media are all avenues to consider.
  • Promotion – Again, you’ll still promote your product but the methods are different than what you would have used 30 years ago. Instead of direct mail and print advertising, your strategy might include email marketing and social media marketing instead.


It’s common for small businesses in particular to underplay the importance of marketing. However, it’s arguably the case that every business needs marketing to succeed. After all, how will you sell your products and services if nobody knows about them?

This misunderstanding of the importance of marketing most likely stems from the confusion around “marketing” as a term in the first place. If you’re asking yourself “what is marketing anyway?” or thinking it’s the same thing as advertising, it’s understandable that you may be reluctant to devote budget and resources towards a marketing strategy.

It’s true that some businesses have become very successful without using advertising.

Krispy Kreme is one example of a global brand that was built on word-of-mouth marketing rather than television advertising and other forms of promotion. They also invest heavily in employee engagement, meaning that each employee is a marketer for the brand and is trained in creating the product and customer service.

Camera company GoPro was also launched without advertising. Instead, they relied on the power of social media marketing and understanding their customer motivations to produce a product that customers actively wanted to promote. The GoPro Instagram account is still primarily made up of user-generated content today.

As discussed previously, marketing is not just promotion. But rather, it’s about learning and understanding more about your customer. Your marketing strategy will help you to figure out exactly who you’re serving and how you can align your business plans with your customer needs. This will not only result in happier customers but also drive revenue, and ensure you’re heading in the right strategic direction for both short-term and long-term growth.


image source:  https://medium.com/@markevans/drive-your-growth-using-a-7-step-marketing-strategy-framework-c0cb04b2ac2b

Developing an effective marketing strategy is no quick and easy task, but the basics can be broken down into a few key steps:

  1. Identify your goals – what do you want your business to achieve in the short and long-term? This may include specific sales figures but also consider factors such as raising brand awareness and your presence on social media.
  2. Market research and identifying your customers – learn as much as you can about your target customers. Who are they and what do they want and need?
  3. Competitor analysis – what are your competitors doing in terms of marketing? What products are they selling and how are they interacting with their customers?
  4. Identify your unique selling proposition (USP) – what are you doing that makes you a better choice than your competitors? How will your marketing reinforce your brand message?
  5. Choose your marketing channels – most businesses opt for a blend of online and offline strategies. Again this comes down to understanding your audience – where do they spend their time? What platforms are they likely to trust more?

While your marketing strategy lays out the overall aims and direction of your marketing activities in the coming months and years, your marketing plan will provide the details of the actual activities you’ll be carrying out to achieve these goals.

Both your marketing strategy and your marketing plan are keys to your long-term success, whether your business is a small startup or a global organization.


I’m not sure Google translator gave me the right translation but whether you are in finance, or sales, marketing or the owner of a small business, we are all in marketing.

What is Marketing? I did a search on this term to look for some inspiration and found this recent article from Reliving MBA Days that does a great job reviewing the basics of marketing.

What is your definition of Marketing? Let me know what you think in the comments below and follow the conversation on Twitter

In Order to Grow Your Business, You Have to Know This One Secret To Effective Marketing

For your business to grow and succeed, you must market your business. However, before this can happen, you have to know what marketing really is. Marketing ain’t what most people think it is (ads) and it has changed dramatically in the digital era.

Marketing today no longer revolves around outbound techniques. It’s no longer one-dimensional, consisting of just ads on TV, the radio, or newspaper. Most of us tune that stuff out. We’ve been trained (by marketers of course) that brand messages consist largely of selfish promotion and even propaganda.

The secret to effective marketing is putting your customers first. Today’s marketing has many facets, one of the most important being digital content marketing and the use of thought leadership content to gain your audience’s trust.

To set you up for success, you’ll need to understand what marketing really is and how it’s changed in the past decade. With this information, you’ll be able to market your business properly to grow by attracting new buyers.


While you may not be an expert in marketing, you certainly are familiar with it. You see it every day across many mediums. At the heart of marketing is what you say and how you say it. It’s not simply about the promotion of your product or service.

Marketing, in many ways, is like a story you tell your target audience—one they’ll respond to. While selling is often used simultaneously, that’s not what marketing really is. Yes, marketing’s goal is to entice people to want your product, but marketing actually starts with understanding the need you solve, more than your solution.

The secret to understanding what Marketing is today lies in being truly customer-centric, not brand-centric. It’s about understanding your customer so well that the message they hear seems like it was created just for them. You have to get inside their head and understand what motivates them and what their biggest pain points are.

Marketing starts by asking questions about your target audience. It’s the beginning of a conversation. At first, your brand and customer don’t know each other well, but your brand’s job is to find out who they are. The brands that are the most successful at marketing welcome the conversation and the answers they receive. They are never caught up in just making a sale.

The best marketers understand that education and information supersede promotional material. They have a desire to share knowledge with their audience. This is true for marketing for B2B and B2C companies.

How do marketers do this? With content marketing, which is a discipline of marketing wherein brands use content to attract buyers. We’ll dive into that topic soon, but first a look back at what marketing used to be.


Marketing was initially something that consumer-facing companies invested in and it was typically handled by an outside agency.

Marketing, as we know it, saw a heyday during the “madmen” days of the 1960s when mass media were all looking for advertisers. And brands were happy to pay good money to reach engaged audiences on 3 TV channels.

During its early stages, marketing was all about a catchy jingle or a great tagline. This type of marketing still exists today. Think of all the commercials you see in one day. From banner ads on a website to the billboard you see on your commute, it’s a very crowded space.

The amount of media competing for attention is larger than ever. Plus, many people have become immune to ads. We dismiss them immediately. Instead, buyers now want to do their own research. They crave information to help them solve their challenges.

This change in buyer behavior was, of course, ushered in with the age of the internet. In a few clicks, you can find everything you need to know about a problem. Buyers want to consume information now, and they look at and judge a brand by its content.

Marketing has gone through a real transformation since the beginning of the digital era. This evolution brought about inbound marketing. It’s the exact opposite of an ad, which is created on a channel that the masses see, not a target audience.

Inbound marketing is a strategy that attracts customers with relevant content and experiences personalized for them. Outbound marketing (ads) disrupts an audience with content they didn’t ask for, whereas inbound marketing does not. Users are already looking for answers and with the right content, you can deliver them.

Most brands still employ both outbound and inbound marketing. And while they are both parts of marketing, as you can see, they are very different. So, there’s definitely tension between the two disciplines.

The inbound and outbound marketing dichotomy centers on the age-old tension between push marketing and pull marketing. Inbound marketing uses pull marketing tactics, and outbound marketing uses push marketing tactics.

In this sense, a pull is an action that the customer takes. With the push, it’s the brand making the first move. Inbound marketing also is two-way communication. Outbound is one-way and static.

Outbound strategies seek to engage audiences by being loud and off the wall. Inbound has a different take on engagement. It’s done with compelling content, not simply a shout out about how awesome the brand is. Let’s look at the power of content marketing.


Almost every brand is currently using content marketing in some way. Even consumer brands have realized the value of content marketing and how it can increase revenue, reduce marketing spend, and deliver better and more loyal customers.

In today’s marketing ecosystem, a brand cannot compete or survive without producing great content. It’s connected to every modern marketing principle. You can’t have social media without content. Social media has become a key channel for marketers to meet and nurture prospects, and it’s one of the leading ways to distribute content. It’s an excellent place to start a conversation—one that begins when you post relevant content that your target market will find valuable.

SEO and organic search traffic is (still) one of the best reasons to do content marketing. What if you went to Google, typed in a query, and no results came back? That would be pretty unbelievable. Each day buyers are pursuing answers to their problems, and they do so with a search. With the right content, you’ll be a top choice.

So, what is the blueprint for great content marketing? You can find exceptional examples of content marketing all around you. There are certain key ingredients that when combined absolutely work.

First, the content itself needs to be relevant and interesting to the audience. It must share insights and ideas, not just regurgitate facts. The content should have a point of view and not be a plug for your brand. It also has to have a clean and inviting design.

Some other attributes of great content marketing include:

  • Content based on the needs of an audience
  • Empowering and inspiring viewers
  • Having a spirit of fun
  • Offering sound and expert advice


Another key aspect of content marketing is thought leadership. It’s become a bit of a buzzword, but it’s important to your content marketing. Thought leadership is a type of content marketing that taps into the talent and expertise within your business or from your community to resolve some of the most prominent questions of your audience.

In old school marketing, endorsements were essential to get consumers to pay attention. Those endorsers weren’t subject matter experts but were popular. Endorsements from celebrities and professional athletes are still big business, but they don’t have the same impact as thought leadership.

Thought leadership, when executed well, guides an audience to a higher level of understanding and offers great credibility to your brand. If a buyer thinks your business is run by a bunch of experts, of course, they are going to come to you to solve their challenges.

What’s important in thought leadership is conveying a depth of knowledge that your competitors don’t have. It’s not an opportunity to promote. It’s a time to educate. And both B2B and B2C brands can use this strategy to forge deeper connections with their audience.

Thought leadership is a long-term investment in content marketing. You won’t be recognized as an authority right away. It’s something you have to build. It requires marketers to get inside the head of their subject matter experts, conduct a lot of research, and know their audience. But it can reap significant dividends for your business. You’ll want to develop a thought leadership strategy, which will enable you to market your business in a whole new way.

Marketing your business isn’t easy. And you’ll probably make mistakes along the way. What’s important is to keep your focus on how your brand will tell its story and engage audiences. Once you have a grasp on what marketing is and how it can help you grow, it’s time to develop compelling content that will transform the way in which you connect with your aud