First, Focus On Brand. Brand Informs Advertising.

Small business advertising used to be the lifeblood of local media, both print and broadcast. Today, SMBs continue to spend on advertising, but they’ve moved their ad dollars to more productive DIY advertising venues like Facebook and Google AdSense.

Here’s a random sample from my Facebook stream:

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Ryan Wallerstein of Ramify Media, a branding and social media consultancy in New York, thinks advertising on Facebook is a “cart before the horse” situation for many small businesses. He wants SMBs to focus on their brands first.

The challenge for small businesses is that branding is complex work, and most small businesses lack the capital and expertise necessary to undergo a quality branding process. They don’t have access to big brand resources, and are sorely in need of guidance from branding experts. Herein lies Facebook’s opportunity to be a hero, taking ownership of the branding issue before small businesses dump millions of dollars into inefficient advertising campaigns.

Facebook wants ad dollars. I doubt they want the additional task of helping to educate SMBs on brand. Media companies don’t care about brand. They care about ad placements, which is why newspapers, radio stations and TV stations will make an ad for you, often for free. That’s how bad they want the ad revenue that is generated by you running the ad.

I consistently counsel against taking these kind of short cuts. If you want to run ads, great. Have something worth saying and an elegant means of saying it. You get ads worth running from firms like Bonehook, not from a media company.

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