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Using the billionaire’s marketing playbook.

And how I recommend you market your organization in 2020.

If you’re the 10th richest person in the world who started his business from scratch you know a little something about business. I’ve often found it hard to contradict very successful billionaires on their marketing strategy, and I take notice of their tactics.

If you’re like many other professionals, you have started the new year with big plans for your marketing. You’re finally going to tackle that marketing plan you’ve always envisioned. But what do the professionals do for their marketing? 

We’re going to take a page right out of Michael Bloomberg’s playbook.  Whether you like him or not, or think he will win or lose, that does not matter for this discussion. If you could spend $1 billion dollars to either elect yourself or promote your cause, how would you spend it? And if you had the very best consultants and marketers that money could buy, what would they do?

  1. Announce yourself in a video. The days of the big rally to announce someone’s candidacy has been distilled into a 2-3 minute video. So, if you’ve ever thought about doing a video to tell your story, you can now see it’s what all the cool kids are doing.
  2. Spend the majority of your budget on TV.  That’s right, that old advertising strategy is still number one, and it’s not going down, but up. At the beginning of January 2020, an estimated $540 million has already been spent on political ads in this presidential cycle.
  3. It’s TV, Google, then Facebook (in that order). To date, Bloomberg has spent $193 million on TV. He’s also spent $16.1 million on Google ads and $6.8 million on Facebook. So, when looking at your budget, according to the billionaire’s playbook, you allocate 90% to TV, 7% for Google, and 3% for Facebook. For smaller budgets, I’d probably scale it back to 75% TV, 15% Google, and 10% Facebook.

None of us know the secret formula of what works, but we can make informed decisions based on data, proven strategies, and just good old-fashioned follow through. The old adage from marketing pioneer Jon Wanamaker (1838-1922), a successful merchant who built what would become Macy’s, still has merit today:

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”    

The reality is that we don’t always know which of your advertising methods will work, we just know that overall it works. But it doesn’t mean you need to take shots in the dark. Instead, you need to apply proven and well thought out strategies.

Now, every business is different, and the best marketing today is targeted and tailored, but generally speaking here’s what I think you should do. 

  1. Update your website, not just your design but take a look at your SEO. Your website should have a new design every 3-4 years. It doesn’t need to be a complete rebuild or redesign, but it needs to be freshened up.
  2. Produce videos. Make a video about your company and product videos about what you do. You can create profile videos about your staff, and you can inform your clients about important services you provide. It doesn’t have to be expensive if you plan out your shoots. 
  3. Read your reviews and ask your friends for help. You will inevitably get some bad reviews so prepare for the hit by loading up with positive reviews. And return the favor.
  4. Email out your message. Give people what they’re looking for about their business. Don’t sell them but inform them. Spend the time upfront to build good marketing lists and segment those lists into different categories.
  5. Go all in on social media or get out. You should be in social media if you’re a business but if you haven’t updated your account in 6-months or a year then get out. Prospects will judge you based on how engaged you are, and you don’t want to be perceived as only doing something part of the time. Perception is reality.
  6. Air your message. If you have the budget, go on your local broadcast affiliate – CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox. You will still receive the biggest value for your advertising dollars, reaching the largest audience. If you are in a specific geographic area, Cable TV is a good option. Plus, live sports, news and top cable programming will keep you top of mind. Following the Bloomberg model, make sure you put your message out on Google and Facebook.
  7. Have a plan. Whether you’ve hit the ground running this year or you’re still deciding how to allocate your marketing dollars, have a plan that takes a reasonable percentage of your adjusted gross income to market your business. Plan out what your message and tactics will be, and stay flexible both in budgeting and planning to add or take away dollars for marketing activities that are working or sputtering.

John Houle is the president of JH Communications and can be reached at 401.831.6123 or at

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