How to Sell Online Advertising to Local Businesses

sell online advertising

Over the past two decades, the effectiveness of traditional means of advertising have continually declined. More and more local businesses are now realizing this change and moving their marketing efforts online.

Now, of course, traditional marketing methods still have their place but the fact of the matter is, most businesses need to invest in online strategies if they wish to stay relevant in today’s world. This opens up a huge opportunity for marketing agencies to push into, what is still, a new space.

We’re local advertisers at heart! So, this article is going to focus on how to sell online advertising to local businesses based on the 100s of client conversations we’ve had over the past 5 years in business.

This article covers everything we have found in terms of the best clients to work with, the different forms of online advertising services you can offer, the pros and cons of each major internet marketing service (selling points), all the way to prospecting and sales strategies so you can get clients for your advertising agency on a consistent basis.


Differences in Mediums

In this section we’ll cover major differences (sell points) between traditional and online media as well as compare the paid versus organic means of traffic generation.

Online Advertising Vs. Print


  • Ability to advertise to more obscure niches (better reach) because of accessibility and reduced CPM
  • Improved tracking & remarketing capabilities
  • Advanced list segmentation, split testing, and automation


  • Print generally has a higher average customer value. The leads generated through print advertising may cost more but they are generally of higher quality
  • Digital advertising may lack reach in older demographics since they don’t tend to spend much time online


Paid Vs. Organic Traffic


  • Nearly instantaneous results
  • Ability to target only ideal customers based on search terms, websites, psychographics, and demographics. For this reason, conversions tend to be higher with paid traffic
  • Platform preference – most companies like Google and Facebook are quickly limiting organic reach in favor of paid advertising in order to increase their advertising revenues


  • Costs money
  • The number of local businesses that have efficient processes, tracking, and budget to benefit from ads are limited


Differences in Services

In this section we’ll cover two different online advertising services as well as the pros and cons of offering each. There are plenty more services you can choose to offer but these are the most common ones you’ll see being sold in the digital space.

You can sell Google Adwords

Google Adwords – Search


  • Search-based ads allow you promote messages to users based on their intent. This means the quality of leads generated from services such as Google will generally be of higher quality and convert better to a sale
  • Less complex implementation for local businesses. This is due to a) knowing the intent of the user and b) it doesn’t require complex creative assets like video


  • Cost per click (CPC) can be expensive compared to other forms of advertising. This means cost per lead (CPL) can increase as well
  • Less opportunity to creatively differentiate your services from competition
  • Volume of leads are limited to the amount of people searching for your client’s product/service in their local area

Facebook Ads are a great service for clients

Facebook Ads


  • Dozens of targeting options based on psychographics that allow your clients to creatively differentiate from the competition and break into untapped markets.
  • Generally will produce higher volume of leads as you can get in front of anyone and everyone in a given geographical area.
  • CPCs and CPLs are quite low compared to search advertising


  • More complex to implement. Effective facebook advertising generally requires video creation which adds in a layer of collaboration with your clients that can cause friction in the process
  • Lead quality can be lower than search ads because social advertising is not intent-based. The process of advertising on social platforms will generally require more advanced marketing funnels and lead nurturing than other forms of online ads.


Define a Service Offering

Before jumping on any sales call it’s vital to know what service your offering, the sales, on boarding, and implementation process, and your pricing model. Covering all these aspects for every advertising service you could offer is near impossible for one article so we’ll stick to broad commonalities.


Common Pricing Models

Let’s cover some ways other agencies tend to price their services.

Flat Retainer Fee

The simplest approach to pricing your internet advertising services is to require a flat monthly fee for the management of your client’s ads. The client covers the ad cost and pays you a set price to set up, manage, and improve their advertising campaigns.

Percentage of Budget

It may be the case where you’d like to scale your profits relative to the size of your client’s account. In this scenario, you may want to go with a percentage based pricing model. This model requires the client to pay you a percentage (10,15, 20%) of their monthly ad budget to manage everything for them.


You may have heard of this model referred to as lead generation or CPA marketing (cost per action). This is where you and the client decide on a particular price the client will pay you to generate a lead for their business. The type of lead you agree on could be anything: website visits, email opt-ins, appointment requests, phone calls, estimates, etc.


There may be some situations in which it makes the most sense just to do one-time builds for clients. This could be full account builds or part of the process your client needs help with.

NOTE: ideally you incorporate a combination of pricing models into your services to accompany various needs of potential clients.

The on-boarding process

Understanding The Process

In order to sell online advertising, you’ll want to understand the general process of implementation. Begin at the end and assume the sale has already happened.

Here’s some questions you’ll want to have answered before going into a sales call…

  • What software will you need to manage their client’s accounts?
  • What software does the client have in which you need access? How do they go about giving you this access?
  • What part of the process does your client need to partake in?
  • What creative assets do you need access to in order to fulfill on your service?

Beyond this, you’ll also want to define a set of qualification questions for prospects while on call to determine if they are a good fit for your services. We created a digital marketing questionnaire already so we won’t go over that here.


The Ideal Client

When it comes to sales, you want to make sure you’re talking to the right prospects.

As with any form of sales, it’s easier to sell a client that has already been sold on your service before. For this reason, you’ll likely get the best results from targeting companies that have/are already investing money into paid advertising.

The best clients will already be investing in the service you offer, the second best will be invested in an alternative digital media, the third will be heavily invested in traditional advertising, and the fourth best will be investing money in organic online marketing of their business.

Secondly, the best local clients for online advertising are going to be mid-sized companies with multiple locations. Generally, companies that have expanded to multiple locations have already figured out their processes for one. These companies have sales and fulfillment systems in place and now just need more leads to scale.

The last benefit of targeting multi-location companies is that you know they want to scale so a single client can produce multiple accounts.


Prospect & Sales

Your next goal is to collect lists of prospects for which you can contact with an initial offer.

Believe it or not, you have already done a large portion of the heavy lifting. Defining your offer and getting extremely clear on your process is going to greatly increase your chances of selling clients and scaling an agency.

We created a complete article covering an ad agency marketing plan and highly recommend checking that out. Also, consider checking out our advertising pitch example blog post as this will break down the exact phrasing and structure of your entire presentation.

The goal of this article is to give you a basic foundation of knowledge in which you can immediately put into action. Hopefully, you found this information useful and will put it to use.

Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.


Ed Stapleton, Jr is a ‘Google Partner’ marketing expert who’s sold over 1,500 Google Ads clients and managed millions in ad spend. He heads up the front of the house at his marketing agency Clicks Geek where he manages sales and strategic relationships.

Take your business to the next level with a marketing agency that actually delivers.

Clicks Geek is a U.S. Based marketing agency focused on positive-ROI customer acquisition. If you want to grow your brand through digital marketing, let’s talk!

Based in Pennsylvania, USA

As a Google Premier Partner Agency, we’ve joined the cream of the crop in PPC specialists. This designation is reserved for only a small fraction of Google Partners who have demonstrated a consistent track record of success.
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