A Note at the Dawn of 2020

Digital Marketing

Digital Marketing A Note at the Dawn of 2020

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In this note, I want to provide a glimpse into the future. These are the forces shaping our industry, your campaigns and all of our revenues in 2020. 

As usual, the digital landscape changes quickly and with force. There are no longer 10-year cycles of predictable marketing trends. We’re lucky to get two years without major disruption. But that’s why we love this industry. If you’re an early adopter like myself, you can’t help but be stimulated by all of these changes. The key is deciphering the signal from the noise. 

Ultimately, that is the service we provide to you. We asses the best path forward for your strategy and campaigns. We take that very seriously and are honored to work with you on growing your business. 

So what’s happening in 2020? I believe these three simple concepts are a requirement for getting the most out of your digital campaigns in 2020. 

Appear.  Offer. Nurture.


IMA works primarily with small and mid-size companies. When we begin working with a new client, we usually complete a project called an IdeaMap. This project is basically a road map of the next six to twelve months of the digital strategy that the client needs to achieve their goals. 

Part of the IdeaMap is research, both of the client and their competitors. While reviewing this research, I am shocked, going into 2020, to see so few small and mid-size companies advertising on Facebook and Instagram. 

I remember back in 2010 when we started pitching Facebook Business Pages to our clients. Almost all of them said it was a waste of time. That, “They’re not on Facebook” or, “It’s just for kids”. That was ten years ago yet most companies continue to overlook Facebook!

Now, let me clarify an important point. Most of the companies and their competitors we review are on Facebook. They have a Business Page. The majority post-semi-regular content to that page. Today, posting content to your Business Page, which is called organic content, is not the strategy. That was the strategy in 2010. 

Today organic content reach hovers between 2 – 6%. That means virtually no one is seeing your content. So what is Facebook good for? 

Facebook is an advertising platform. It’s not a blogging platform. You have a Business Page so that you can use Facebook’s Ad Manager. A Business Page is just the key to the kingdom. Facebook is good at ads.

The Ad Manager is where the rubber meets the road on Facebook. But less than 40% of the companies we review are actively running ads on Facebook. That would be like saying in 1990 that fewer than 40% of small businesses were advertising in the Yellow Pages.

So why don’t more companies use Facebook Ads? We hear two main stories (I would call them “objections” but they are so easily overcome that I call them stories because it’s a self-limiting tale that the person is telling themselves). 

The first story is essentially the same story that we heard in 2010 but now people will say either, “it’s just for kids” OR that “it’s just for old people”. This kills me. Everyone needs to understand that Facebook is like network TV in 1980. Only it’s bigger. Everyone is on Facebook. Yes, some demographics use it more than ever (“Ok, Boomer”), but if you’re trying to sell to people that own homes and have disposable income than you’re in luck. 


80% of people ages 18–49 are on Facebook compared to 55% of people 50 and older. Across all users, 74% in the U.S. login daily and spend an average of 35 minutes per day on the platform. You can see from these stats that your target demographic is on Facebook en masse. Only YouTube has higher numbers across these demographics (don’t sleep on YouTube!).

Which brings me back to the theme originally stated. 


Appear on Facebook. Appear on Instagram. Appear on YouTube. Appear where your target demographic, your Ideal Customer, hangs out. 

And the way to appear before them is with ads. You have to pay to play. It’s non-negotiable. There are ways to boost organic reach (post a ton of platform-specific video every day) but it’s cheaper to play the game and buy advertising. 

Just make sure you do it the right way. Because the second most common thing we hear is, “I tried running ads and it didn’t work”. Why do people say that? They say that because they ran Facebook ads like they run Google Ads. They only ran direct response ads. They didn’t move their Ideal Customer through the buyer’s journey. They didn’t take the person out for coffee. Instead, they asked a complete stranger to marry them. 

That doesn’t work on Facebook. This post would be far too long if I described IMA Facebook ad philosophy so we’ll do that in another post. But it boils down to showing specific ads to specific groups of customers at specific times. This isn’t a new concept. But it’s more powerful than ever on social media, and it’s rarely done properly by small and mid-size businesses. 

So, #1 in 2020, go where your people hang out. Appear before your Ideal Customer and start the relationship.


We recently completed an IdeaMap for a new client and over 80% of their competitors had the same offer as theirs. Guess what the key themes were in all of the offers?

“High Quality”. 

“In Business Since…”. 


“Superior/Unmatched/Excellent Customer Service”.

Only one company spoke to their potential customer’s pain!

If the vast majority of your competitors are saying the same thing as you then you are doing it wrong. This is lemming territory. 

I would also guess that this is the result of a serious lack of effort. When marketing resources are not prioritized, companies building new websites will go to their competitor’s sites and hit two buttons on their keyboards. 



And in doing so, they endanger their business and cap their revenue potential. 

You have to realize that customers don’t care that you are a family business or that you have been grinding away for 25 years. 

They’re trying to avoid getting ripped off. They’re afraid of making the wrong choice. 

And they have a problem that is causing them pain that YOU might be able to solve. You need to speak to them and educate them and then prove to them that your company will solve their pain. 

Again, this is Sales & Marketing 101, but so few companies do this well. This means that if you do it, you have an opportunity to increase market share. You do this by taking your time with your potential customers. Treat them well. Speak to them, educate them and then offer them your product or service. And when I say offer, I mean offer

Message = “We can solve your pain”

Offer = “Pick up the phone and call right now!”. 

You need to generate action. The best way to do that is by making them an offer that is impossible to refuse, or an “Impossible Offer” as we say here at IMA. 

One important note, an Impossible Offer should make you nervous. 

It should be like Patagonia’s “Iron Clad Guarantee” which states, “We guarantee everything we make. If you are not satisfied with one of our products at the time you receive it, or if one of our products does not perform to your satisfaction, return it to the store you bought it from or to Patagonia for a repair, replacement or refund. Damage due to wear and tear will be repaired at a reasonable charge.”

What could your company offer that would live up to the Patagonia example? If you’re in a service industry, you won’t be replacing a product so you have to think a little differently. Recently I paid $600 for new tires on our VW Westfalia Camper. I don’t love spending $600 on tires for that car because we only use it to go surfing and camping. So those tires better last a while. But one thing made me feel better about my purchase. The guy at the local tire shop said that if I ever get a flat, they’ll fix it for free, no questions asked. 

Now, people get flat tires all the time. If you think about it logically you would say, “No way am I repairing flat tires for free to all my customers. I’ll lose my shirt”. But people typically don’t take people up on these types of offers. People forget. Or they’re out of town. Or whatever. Chances are that less than 10% of customers will ever take this shop up on their offer. That makes it a very safe investment to offer real value to convince your customers to choose you over a competitor.

So what can you offer that has real value? Something that makes you stand apart from the lemmings. Something that makes you nervous? Develop that and you’ll be able to spur prospects into action.


in 2020, you are going to show up in the places your Ideal Customers hang out.

You are going to advertise to them with different ad messaging to move them through the buyer’s journey.

And you are going to make them an Impossible Offer.  

And then you’re going to disappear and hope they remember you? 


Wrong. You are going to nurture this new, budding relationship. You are going to give them valuable information related to the solution you provide. But it’s not going to be about how great you are, yadda, yadda, yadda. No, it’s going to give them information about their point of pain and all kinds of different ways that they can solve it. It’s going to go deep into why they might have this pain in the first place. It’s going to dissect all of the ways they can go about resolving this issue. And every now and again, you are going to suggest that they could just simply call you. And poof, pain is gone.

Believe it or not, people still use email. They open emails from businesses every day. They just do. And they definitely open emails from brands that they like and trust. Brands that have educated them or helped them. Brands that have stood by their word. Brands with really happy customers who rave about them. People love to open emails from those companies. And when an Impossible Offer is presented to those people, they buy. All Day Long. 

My goal for every client of IMA is to 10X their email list in 2020. Note that I mean an email list of prospective customers, not existing ones. We want a list of 10,000 people that have never bought from you before. There is nothing more powerful than a prospect list that respects your brand. They will open your emails and they will buy from you. And after they buy, we send them over to your existing customer list where you continue the relationship and increase lifetime value. 

Sending emails is incredibly cheap. And it’s incredibly powerful. If your company can build a list of prospects than you can generate revenue whenever you need it. You can market a new product or service to this list. You can market a price reduction to this list. You can just state your Impossible Offer and boom, cash. 

But first, you have to build the list of prospects. You have to appear where they are hanging out. You have to offer them something to get their email in the first place. Something called a Lead Magnet. Then you have to automate an email sequence that nurtures these prospects into new customers. 

Then you have a funnel. 

And you go to the bank. 

So, my note about 2020 boils down to four words. 

You Need a Funnel.

Happy New Year!

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