Sometimes it can be difficult to understand which way is up, and which way is down the tubes, when you are first developing a mobile advertising strategy.

It’s easy to take off on a tear, going great guns, with all the ideas and all the potential implementations swirling around in your head like so much candy in a confectionary store.   We know, we’ve been there many times, and the advice we’re going to give you is hard won from experience and having made mistakes with our own mobile advertising strategy that could have been avoided.

[Tweet ” So what is the right way to go about creating a mobile advertising strategy?”]

Follow these simple steps and you’ll be well on your way to mobile advertising success!

[RELATED: Listen to PODCAST 24 – 3 Most Common Mistakes When Developing a Mobile Strategy]

#1 – First (and most important) – WHY are you creating a mobile advertising strategy?

While we certainly believe that EVERY business, no matter what size, product or service, should have – and be utilizing – a mobile advertising strategy, we can’t really start to create one until we have a handle on just what you think (or hope) that mobile can do for your business.

If you’re a local business, for instance – brick and mortar, don’t sell anything online, don’t have an email list (shame on you!), and aren’t doing mobile coupons or offers (again, SHAME on you!) – then our first set of suggestions for your mobile advertising strategy would be to adopt some of the ideas that we’re shaming you for not using already.

Creating a simple mobile coupon that your regular customers can redeem – or perhaps by putting your loyalty program into mobile mode instead of eco-unfriendly plastic or paper cards – might be the first step to transitioning more of your business onto mobile.

This does not mean build an app.

DominoResearch principal, Kim Stuart, was quoted last week in the MRC Cup of Joe blog discussing the app situation for small business owners –

“Probably the most common misconception that business owners/managers/marketers have is that app discovery somehow takes care of itself,” says Kim Stuart, COO of Atlas Rewards. “As with anything else, there is a HUGE investment of time, effort and dollars in order to promote a successful app. (My definition of a successful app is one that at least breaks even on the initial and ongoing dev costs to support it. )There are more than 2 million apps in the App Store and roughly the same in Google Play, so the odds of anyone finding an app randomly are up there with winning the lottery. It’s very expensive to market an app, so most business owners should really think about WHY they believe they should build an app.”

Joe Stangarone, 30 year IT veteran and owner of the blog, completely agrees –

What should you do? If you are taking the app store route, you must devote just as much budget into marketing your app as you did in developing your app. Otherwise, all of that hard work goes to waste.

If no app, then what?

#2 – Most business owners can manage very well by joining an aggregator app or leveraging an existing app like Apple Wallet for marketing, coupons, loyalty and other customer benefit packages.

What’s an aggregator app?  It’s an app that provides end users (consumers) with a lot of choices – for instance Yelp is an aggregator app; many restaurants and businesses are in the app, and rely on it for marketing.  Facebook Pages for Business is an aggregator (and FB is only like THE most popular app ever, including Pokemon Go).

Many apps exist that combine many businesses into a single app, and that’s something that end users are more likely to use.

#3 – Don’t forget about mobile wallets.  It’s super easy to leverage Apple Wallet to create rich experiences for end users (even more so with the new iOS10, but that’s another blog entry on its own), and by going this route the business owner can avoid becoming an IT guy, and can, instead, focus on marketing and sales for the business while leaving the technical bits to Apple and other third party wallet programmers.

That’s three easy steps you can take on your own to kick start your mobile advertising strategy.   You won’t need any fancy consultants, web developers, or designers to begin realizing the benefits from following this advice.

And as Hazel & Kim mention in the podcast, if you run across a programmer or a designer or developer that tries to tell you that going the route of building a standalone app or spending a ton of money on graphics or development is the right way, get yourself a new programmer or designer right then and there!