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Mobile users hate banner ads, TV viewers fast-forward through commercials and newspapers can’t sell enough advertising space to keep reporters on staff. But none of these truths trumps a hard fact: the $140 billion a year advertising industry in the U.S. has grown in each of the last 3 years and is expected to top $170 billion in 2013, according to emarketer.com

And the amount spent on the most hated type of advertising — mobile — is expected to more than double — from $3.4 billion in 2012 to as much as $8.5 billion this year, Emarketer reports.

All of this spending does not guarantee the success of advertising. And it certainly doesn’t mean you should increase advertising spending for your company. But it does indicate that there remains a great deal of faith — and potential — in ad spending. Success depends on how and where you spend your money and, more important, on the content of your ads.

Advertising is not dead. But bad advertising — the annoying ones that stalk you on the Internet or demand that you type a text message to opt-in to a pitch — will soon meet a timely death. Story-driven ads, however, are here to stay.

Bears and Diamonds are Eternal

What's your story? keyboard keyBecause everyone loves a story — no matter how or why it’s told. Content marketing thrives on storytelling — and storyselling — by connecting brands with customers in meaningful ways. But compelling stories told in advertising platforms also create lasting relationships. Smokey the Bear has been urging people to prevent forest fires since 1944, and there’s every reason to believe that DeBeers’ “A Diamond is Forever” campaign will last as long as men and women believe in the promise of marriage.

The art of storytelling got lost in the infancy of the Internet. Content was nothing more than keywords strung together with an occasional verb, and ads had little meaning beyond the frantic urging to “CLICK HERE” or “BUY NOW.”

As the Internet aged, digital marketing matured. Technology has returned to its rightful place as a marketing tool, but not its driving force.

Don’t give up on advertising as a way to promote your brand and drive sales, but spend your budget wisely. Consider these three ways to increase the value of your online advertising dollars:

1.  Don’t rush to advertise.

If you’re a new business owner, resist the urge to advertise your company until you have a sound marketing strategy in place. I’ve known entrepreneurs who spent their entire advertising budget before they made a single sale — and some who overspent before they even had a product ready to sell.

Do your homework before you open your wallet. Know who wants to buy your product and why. Social media provides an inexpensive form of market research. Use your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ accounts to ask your followers and group members what they think of your product.

Another option is to promote your product on Kickstarter or a similar crowdfunding platform. You don’t have to make raising money your goal: use crowdfunding as a way to test the viability of your product — and as a form of free advertising.

2.  Choose your keywords carefully.

Hand woman press on touch screen keyword seo buttonIt only takes a few minutes to set up a Google AdWords campaign, but it may take days or weeks of research to find the most cost effective keywords for your company. Consider how many customers or clients you need. If you’re selling toothpaste, you may need hundreds of thousands or millions to clear a profit. If you’re selling multi-million dollar railroad cars and have few competitors, you don’t need many customers.

Don’t look for the most popular keywords. Look for the smartest ones. Thorough keyword research is a long, tedious process. If you lack the patience or aptitude to do it yourself, spend a few hundred or a few thousand dollars to hire a keyword analyst — you will save money in the long run.

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About Katherine Kotaw

Katherine Kotaw is CEO of KOTAW Content Marketing, an international marketing strategy company headquartered in Los Angeles. KOTAW tells -- and sells – stories across multi-channel marketing platforms for SMBs and Fortune 500 companies as large as HBO, Disney and Mattel. Katherine teaches storytelling for the Content Marketing Institute. Connect with Katherine on social media or her website to learn more about personal and corporate branding.

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