Ad-versational?

by Eric Pudalov, Community Events Coordinator

An area of online promotion that has basically been around since the invention of the Web, but is still somewhat new to me, is the creation of banner ads (and all other types, for that matter).

I hate pop-up and pop-under ads, and basically all other intrusive forms of advertising, so I refuse to design those. However, I find that banner, CPC (cost-per-click), CPM (cost-per-mille), and CPV (cost-per-view or cost-per-visitor) ads seem to be the most helpful as well as ethical. As a matter of fact, on Facebook, which I visit almost daily, I have often clicked on targeted ads and even signed up on some new websites because of them.

You might ask, “How did you get your position if you don’t know much about online advertising?” Interestingly enough, when I first began working at this organization, online advertising was only a small part of my responsibility.

I began by helping to design a program for our Annual Golden Goals Awards Ceremony, which is akin to an Academy Awards honoring the achievements of people with disabilities. Though this, in itself, was like a form of advertising, I was much more familiar with Microsoft Word and Publisher (as opposed to Google or Facebook ads), which I ended up using to design various parts of the program.

Also, as I’ve mentioned in other entries, I come up with an Activities Calendar every month for the people we serve in our community, as well as the employees. This, too, has its visual elements, as I try to highlight certain important points with different colors, and give the calendar an appealing format.

However, when I began to show much more interest and knowledge in the “real” (i.e. paid) advertising area, GCSS was very receptive to the idea.

I was then given the seemingly monumental task of deciding who to target, how often to run ads, and how much to spend. Once again, these things may seem like common sense to someone trained in advertising, but I was completely new to say, using Facebook or Google for this purpose.

Then again, knowing that major companies like Coca-Cola, Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Arby’s, Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo! all spend billions of dollars on their advertising campaigns, perhaps it’s not such common sense after all. Come to think of it, didn’t McDonald’s have a failed product a few years ago? (*cough* Arch Deluxe…*cough*)

Sherry Heyl, the CEO of Concept Hub, Inc., who had been working with us not long ago, educated me in some of the ways of this complex process. She felt that I had “jumped the gun” in terms of creating ads, since I had not entirely developed a target market.

We had been working on creating “personas,” which I’m sure are familiar to many of you out there in the business world already. For me, however, this was a relatively new concept. I was familiar with “customer profiles,” which was the lesson prior to creating personas, yet for some reason I had more difficulty creating the latter.

Then, a few months ago, while working on a seemingly unrelated project, it clicked for me. I’ve been writing a novel for the past few years, and was having difficulty developing some of the characters. Then I realized – wait a minute! Why don’t I make “personas” for my fictional characters?

So I set about deciding on the characters’ ages, physical characteristics, income, previous jobs, likes and dislikes, whether they had living family members, where they were born, etc. This proved to be extremely helpful in creating characters with more depth.

In turn, I went back to creating the personas at work, and suddenly it became so much easier! We determined that there are basically three groups of people that we target: someone with a disability; someone who has a family member with a disability; and someone who isn’t directly related to anyone with a disability, but still wants to help. We had done the same for the customer profiles, but were now fleshing out the “characters” much more.

I’m still working on that project, and had actually put it on hold due to more urgent assignments. But once things settle down, I plan on focusing on this again.

Another project which has partially been assigned to me recently is learning a new database management program, which I don’t think should be too difficult, but will definitely give me (and the rest of our organization, for that matter) a better idea of who is visiting our website and/or signing up for our newsletter.

Speaking of which, although I like this WordPress theme that we’re currently using, I would like to design a sidebar that has links to our homepage, Twitter page, etc. Without designing an entirely new theme, would it be possible to modify the current theme and simply add the sidebar in? I probably sound like a complete greenhorn here…in any case, if I figure it out on my own, then disregard this paragraph!

Do any of you marketing experts (and I don’t mean that sarcastically), namely Gini Dietrich, Paige Worthy, or Martin Waxman, have other advice as to how we should market ourselves online?

And what other business-related blogs might you suggest keeping up with? I find that the more I read these regularly, the better I become at my job and the more I feel confident in writing my own marketing-related posts.

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About gcsscommunity

My name is Eric Pudalov, and I work as Community Events Coordinator with Georgia Community Support and Solutions, whose mission is to provide creative, life-enriching solutions to people with developmental disabilities and their families. I became interested in this field, however, due to having a disability myself; namely, I had brain surgery in 1996 at age 14, to remove a benign tumor. Following this, I had many difficulties with short-term memory, loss of strength, confusion, and emotional control. Fortunately, at present, I've recovered much of what I'd lost. Despite some setbacks, I graduated high school with honors, and received an academic scholarship to Adelphi Univ., where I earned a BA in Communications. Since then, I've held a number of different jobs and internships, among them a TA position at Sylvan Learning Center, and work as a "Service Leader" with Hands on Atlanta. Since living in GA, I've also been involved with two programs (including GCSS) that serve people with disabilities. My experience has included sharing apartments with adults with autism and other disorders. Though my so-called "limitations" may differ from those of others in the program, these experiences have helped me to realize that people, overall, are capable of much more than we may at first perceive. Search Engine Submission - AddMe
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One Response to Ad-versational?

  1. Sherry Heyl says:

    Great post! You know when I was getting my writing degree from FSU, character development was what I struggled with the most. However it is the most important thing you can do for your writing and for anything creative where you are seeking any kind of emotional connection. I am very proud of you Eric.

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