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Ads, leads and scaling business

14 April 2022

Ads, leads and scaling business Ads, leads and scaling business

Ads, leads and scaling business.


Welcome back to the workshop and learning place for small businesses. I am Sergey Patrikeev and today we will basically cover all possible ways to get customers through ads, leads and various channels.

Words “running ads” may put many business owners into shock, and rightfully so. 

It took me over 12 years till i got enough experience to feel confident about it and to know what works and what doesn't, unfortunately it came at a heavy cost of burning alot of money, a very expensive experience. And I'm happy I did it. No youtube videos, online training, blogs of advertising guru’s will tell you the hard truth, i read and watched a lot of those too.


Over the last decade i experimented like crazy, this is a very extensive list, so buckle up:

1. Facebook ads (for many years and many different companies and events)

2. Google, Bing and Yahoo Search Ads

3. Online Banner Ads

4. App store and Google Play Store ads

5. Yelp Ads

6. LinkedIn Ads

7. Youtube Video Ads

8. TV and Radio

9. PR firms to get publicity

10. Street wide-format banner ads

11. Paid articles

12. Instagram Ads

13. Sales Calls and in-person sales

14. Distributing flyers and posters (alot and for many projects!)


16. Personalized letters with offers

17. Discount Coupons over mail

18. Email marketing campaigns

19. Welcome kits for new tenants

20. Bribing… Convincing doorman and concierges to send people to our services


And probably some more. As you can see, I tried ALOT of different marketing and advertising channels.

While some of these items will work ok for some types of businesses and projects, many of them really only work for large businesses as branding channels, let’s call it a large explosion tactic. 

However as a small business, you don’t have funding to cause an explosion, you must employ very specific tactics to get customers, a sniper rifle of ads, getting directly to each and every customer.

And I know, I know, your friend told you that “such and such” actually works. I’ve heard that a thousand times too, and advertising experts told me as well, “such and such” totally works. And it actually worked! Joke, it didn’t. 

Before you burn through your money, let’s discuss each and every channel i listed above:


1. Facebook.

Facebook is great to get a general feeling towards your product or service, it’s good to get very broad survey, however doing that, you must expect a large amount of noise. Alot of noise! 

Don’t expect to collect actual paying customers, especially if your business targets to a specific local area. Very few people buy products from Facebook, unless you have huge advertising budget, don’t have any geological or local targetting and have large profit margin on what you advertise. 

Facebook audience is a very very cold leads. Means they are not ready and not looking to buy what you are selling, that’s not what they are there for. For 99% of small businesses i can firmly suggest to pass on this one.


2. Search Ads

I must admit that this is the most effective way of advertising to date and we still employ it on most of our projects. It’s called hot leads. People who actually search for a specific keyword or a phrase, they are ready to buy. 

All you need is to get them to enter your sales funnel.


3. Online banners

Online banners are very cheap. Mostly because people actually hate banners on the web. And if someone does click, it’s usually by mistake or they missed the X trying to close the banner ad. 

However, it’s somewhat an effective way to retarget your user group. Banners are great to remind them of your existence. 

Some of my friends and customers started reaching out to us saying they kept seeing our ads everywhere on the web. Some even thought we got funding or got acquired, we didn’t. Did I already say it’s cheap? 

So if you wanna keep tabs on people who visited your website or app, this is one of the best ways to do that. You can run banner ads on Google Ads Network.


4. App store or Google Play store

It did have very minor success, about 2-3 times the cost of running Search Ads on conversions and that’s with us having native Android and IOS apps. 

Our customers didn’t actively search for our product or service on these platforms, so those weren’t hot leads. 

Unless your business is an application and it has a good profit margin on customers paying on the app and customers who actively search for your product on the mobile app store, I would also pass on these.


5. Yelp Ads

Yelp ads work to some extent. They are expensive, they can’t target a very specific area and they get a lot of noise with them. It usually works for some professional services like Doctors, Lawyers, etc. Usually businesses that get a lot of money per service or product purchased. 

I kept trying Yelp for over a decade and with the latest conversion tracking systems, I can definitely say they work 2-3 times worse than Search ads.

6. LinkedIn

This one is a very interesting channel. We have learned a lot about our customers by running LinkedIn ads. It allows you to see very specific data on people who viewed and clicked on your ads. 

It will allow you to narrow your focus on the group of customers you should focus on, if your service or product has any potential group, in terms of income, profession, age, location, demographic, etc. 

However LinkedIn works better with services that are related to a job, career or professional group. Definitely worth a try if you want to do some discovery about potential customers.


7. Youtube ads

Ok, this one's a bit tough. It didn’t work for almost any of our projects. However it’s great for people who are building a community or something related to a video content or collecting followers. 

It’s hard to convince someone to actually purchase something after watching a Youtibe video. They can show up in many places, not just on youtube, and targeting those is not the best. But it could work as a retargeting for your existing customers or website visitors.


8. TV or Radio

Needless to say, skip this one. Unless you became a hot topic of local news and you did it for free, this is money wasted.


9. PR firms

Unless you have a budget of $50k a month and you need a wide range of eyes on your story, this one is a no go. We worked with one of the biggest PR firms of New York and it ultimately didn’t do it. 

It’s very hard to do any specific targeting through PR, and therefore it’s not a sniper rifle you will need.


10. Street Banner Ads

We ran some of the phone and bus stop medium size banner ads. And it was location specific, close to our physical business spot. We even pointed in the direction of our business. And it was funny and attractive. 

However, local banner ads have lost it’s fire a long time ago. People rarely look up and pay attention to them these days. This is not a rifle. Hard pass.


11. Paid articles

If you have a specific audience that visits specific websites and you are not location specific, this one can actually work. It will do well for your SEO and will potentially get you visitors. 

So finding a quality website where you can post quality content will get you good results, for the right price of course. 

However if you are a local business, most probably this one will not work for you since you can't target specific people in the specific area.


12. Instagram Ads

Ok. Everyone talks about instagram! And it’s great for some businesses, mostly online products, and some tourism. However for small business, especially retail, this will not work, beyond some surveying and getting some very cold leads. Expensive, not worth it.


13. Sales Calls and in-person sales

Cold calling still works, however there are a few rules. Either you need to have warm-ish leads, or you need to know your target audience and how to limit calls to only those. 1 out of 100 calls may be interested and 1 out of 10 interested calls may become a customer. 

That’s less than 1% conversion rate. Depending on the market, these numbers still make a good channel for some businesses.

In-person sales can also work, if you can get a significant amount of business from a single client/customer. Alot of time needs to be invested into researching those prospects and building relationship with them. 

This will never work on a first visit. You must build a rapport first. Needless to say, you can’t invest that type of resources into a customer that will net $100 or $1000. It needs to be a long term client/contract prospect that will result in a significant revenue. 


14. Distributing flyers and posters (i did alot of these)

This is a cheap way to get started on a business idea. Print flyers, drop them to businesses, homes, car windshield wipers, hand it to people on the street, public places, etc. 

However, this is one of the most discouraging way to do marketing.

If you don’t have a trusted person who will surely do a job and not just dump flyers into the trash, or you don’t do it yourself, this isn’t worth trying. 



Sure way to deliver advertisements or flyers to people's addresses or businesses, is to do it through USPS EDDM. 

However, this is also a significant cash burn. Extreme majority of people will toss promo print materials that arrive in mail. 

There are ways to catch people’s attention, since they will most probably look at it from one side, to ensure it’s nothing important. But that’s a gamble, and it must be a high profit margin offering, otherwise it’s not worth it.


16. Personalized letters with offers

If you could locate people’s addresses, either through collecting leads information on different platforms, you could send them a personalized letter with a personal offer, perhaps even a gift card.


17. Discount Coupons over mail

Valpack is a known discount and coupon mailing catalog. Most people who still pay attention to those are low income and older demographic. Check if that fits well into your customer profile group.


18. Email marketing campaigns

Emails are one of the cheapest channels of acquisition to this day. Having a well groomed email list is worth more than gold. 

However you must not spam and only send high value information to keep building trust among the recipients. 

One of the key metrics if your group has a good number of emails. Is when your unsubscribe rate is less than 1% for each campaign sent.


19. Welcome kits for new tenants

If you are focusing on residential customers, this could be a way to get new customers. Some leasing offices have a “Welcome Kit” for new tenants that has some gift cards from local services.


20. Bribing… Or shall we say, converting people into sales people.

For example, you have a doorman of the building who sees people going in and out, he/she usually has established relationships with some of the tenants. 

He/She has the power to suggest a service or product when asked for suggestions, or he may suggest it himself.

Some of the doorkeepers have access and trust among some types of customers. This could be a professional who works in the field that uses your product. 

A massage therapist who can suggest skin oils or treatments. Plumber that can suggest cleaning products for clean pipes, etc. List is endless.

Congratulations! This was a lot of information, but you did it! You are now one step closer to mastering your own channels of customer acquisition and growing your business to new highs.