Sometimes we have clients who want to put their toes in the water when it comes to digital marketing. They want to put up a near-free website or do without a website entirely. They want to try $5.00 a day on cost-per-click ads. They just want to do social media.
Often the idea is to do a little market testing, to see whether it’s really worth their making a commitment to an idea before they make a real investment. We understand this. Anyone would rather find out for sure whether their business idea would work before they put money into it.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t really work. Here’s what people expect:
- It’s a great idea and people respond very favorably to a small ad campaign or social media campaign. This is the hoped-for outcome.
- It’s a terrible idea and nobody responds to the small campaigns. This isn’t what anyone hopes for, but at least you know for sure without having put a lot of time and money into the effort.
However, a very small campaign can fail for a great idea. It can be too small to reach enough people or the right people. It can also fail just because it’s so small. People might feel positive about a new product on social media and go to the brand website — only to be turned off by a poor quality website or the fact that there is no website. People can click through ads and find themselves on an unconvincing web page, so they click away. That won’t tell you whether there is interest in the product or not.
You can also get positive results that are not meaningful. For example, people might watch and enjoy your YouTube videos without having any intention of buying your product. A social media campaign designed to get lots of Likes can get those Likes because it’s a good campaign (or even through manipulation), and not be a reflection of interest in your brand.
PPC is probably the best way to test market interest. Put $500 into Adwords and make sure that your ads take consumers to a good landing page where they can take action. People click on ads because they are interested in buying, so this is much more effective than dipping your toe into the shallow end of social media.
But taking the plunge is more sensible. That doesn’t mean that you have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, but you should probably budget thousands. You should plan to put six to twelve months into the effort. “Fail fast” is a mantra we hear a lot, but you can’t either succeed or fail fast by putting a toe in. Set a budget, plan a strategy, and see whether your idea will sink or swim — knowing that you gave it a fair chance.