Class 10, Week 5 – Digital Marketing (paid ads focus)

Paids ads

At just past the halfway mark for the ten-week accelerator, the teams asked if we could look at how paid advertising works, particularly for Google and Facebook. This is a class I teach all the time, that I wrote a book on, and is how I first got started teaching about marketing and entrepreneurship. In many ways it feels like coming home each time I teach this class!

I follow this worksheet when teaching digital marketing – Digital Marketing for Business Growth. Since that worksheet is coupled with an all day class (about 7 hours), I decided to focus in on the foundations of digital marketing and then jump to paid ads.


Digital marketing always starts with the demographic the company wants to target. The teams already have done a lot of work on defining their customer (in lean startup/launchpad also called the customer persona), so this kickoff wasn’t too difficult.

Digital channels

There are three main digital channels startups should be concerned with, also called owned media, because the startup has control over them. They are website, social media and email. We went through the exercise of thinking about the type of content that goes into each channel and the main takeaway for each. Website – answer customer questions, Social – zoom out from your business, and Email – every email to your customer database needs to be a gift.

Digital ads

I have two full classes on paid advertising available on youtube for free.

Class 1 –
Class 2 –

In short, a startup can buy ads in order to put their messaging in front of their audience that has been aggregated by someone else. For example, Google aggregates people searching for certain things by the keywords they type into the Google search box, and then sells ads next to the search results. Facebook aggregates people interested in sharing photos and status updates and shows ads based on their expressed interests. And blogs aggregate people interested in the same topic, for example exercise or cooking, and sells ads based on those interests.

The actual ad and landing page

Regardless of the platform, the first step in running an ad is to decide who the ad is going to target – ie: the demographic! It could be based on, for example, search keywords, demographics, or expressed interests.

The second step is to decide on the content of the ad. Different platforms have different requirements (ie: Google is normally all text, Facebook has a small picture). The common denominator though is normally to make a compelling offer. For example, “Sign up to be a beta tester for a new wheelchair lift” or “Take weekly photos of your construction site”.

The third step is to take the person who clicks on your ad to a well-constructed landing pages. Check out for my favorite resource on landing pages. In general, the landing page should be a continuation of the offer and ask the visitor to do something. Normal actions are to buy something or leave their email to get more information.

Email database and analytics

That was about as much of a crash course in digital marketing and paid advertising as I could fit into two hours. We also touched briefly on maintaining a good email database with all of the company’s customers and interested leads. And took a quick look at how Google analytics, tied with Goals, can tell you how effective your website is.

We may return to digital marketing if the teams need help with finding more leads and moving leads through the sales process.

Posted in Digital Marketing for Everyone, Education, Marketing

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