What You Don’t Know About PPC Advertising

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By Don Sturgill

ADVERTISING IS LIKE winning the lottery – right?

You get your name out there every place you can. Buy a placard at the ball park, film a television commercial, rent a blimp … the main idea is to build your brand and get people to think of you whenever they need a lawyer, vacuum cleaner, candy bar … or whatever your product or service happens to be. Right?


Ron Paul AdThat approach may have application to advertising in general – after all, you’ve heard the ad salesman’s maxim that half your advertising doesn’t work anyway (you just don’t know which half).

Thinking online marketing is just like offline marketing is an attitude that can sink your ship, though — especially when it comes to pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and choosing a PPC advertising agency.

Here’s why:

PPC is called “PPC” because you pay for every click.

How would your strategy change if that billboard you just rented alongside the interstate had a meter on it that could register a hit  and charge you a dollar every time someone glanced at it? Would you want every driver who passed by to sneak a peak at your message? Or would you try to figure out a way to get only those with a valid need for your wares to see the ad?

When you approach PPC in the same way you lay out the strategy for the rest of your advertising budget, you’re missing the boat.

Here are three fundamental attitudes that can help you get on board with smart PPC – from a writer’s point of view. The idea is to help you raise the bar and realize a better return from your PPC campaigns.

You see, one exciting difference about pay-per-click advertising, as compared to traditional methods, is that you can readily track and measure your results. And, in PPC, a little change can make a huge difference.

The message is not what you think

hotel ad

via Busch Hotel

You say, “Best hotel rates in town.” The person looking for convention lodging thinks, “The place must be a rat trap.”

You say, “These won’t last long at this price.” The viewer says, “That must mean they are over-stocked or out of date.”

Stop thinking about all the commercials you have seen, heard, and been bombarded with over the years. They worked great for the time, but times have changed. Right now, you have the opportunity to not just get the word out – but to get it out to the right people.

And you do that by FIRST knowing who the right people are.

If you want to draw professionals and plenty-of-money-to-spend tourists to your hotel, don’t talk about price – talk about location, comfort, safety, amenities … whatever you have identified that your preferred customers want and you have … talk about that.

Your message begins with the customer, not with you. When potential customers make an online search for information, they probably aren’t hoping to find out how great you are. Rather, they want to know how your product or service can fit their criteria and make their lives better.

The first fundamental of online advertising: The best message isn’t about you. It’s about them.

Online searchers don’t want what you think they want

Some say the most difficult journey to make is the one from head to heart. In my experience, that is an accurate assessment. On the flipside, there’s another trip so easy to take that the destination and beginning are all but inseparable: I speak of the journey from head to wallet. It’s a short trip, isn’t it?

Every new ad writer (and plenty of old ones) invariably begins by talking about price. The truth is that searchers are wary of low price pitches. There must be a reason why your goods or services cost less than everyone else’s – and it’s probably not because you are generous. “There’s a catch here somewhere,” says the searcher, “I’m looking for quality.”

And they are … at the start.

Think about it, the journey really goes like this: First we sort through the chaff to find something that would work for us, THEN we look for the best price or the discount code.

Don’t lead with price – lead with the benefits your best customers are looking for, then use your discount or special offer as an incentive for the searcher to complete the circuit they entered when first clicking on your ad (a process that began earlier, for sure, but let’s say it begins with the click).

The second fundamental of online advertising: Concentrate on how your products or services can benefit the right customer. Save deals for clinching the order and adding value at checkout.

You can’t write as well as you think you can write

It’s a funny thing with writing: just about everyone believes himself or herself capable of not only judging good writing, but of producing it. You can see this at work in just about any corporate headquarters.

The creative team hires writers to do what writers do best … then the C-suite leaves it up to marketing and category managers to approve, disapprove, or edit the copy as they see fit. The worst case scenario finds the CEO going over the messaging so it better suits him. All of this happens in otherwise perfectly reasonable businesses every single day.

For some mysterious reason, all managers feel obligated to wring every last bit of effectiveness out of the writer’s words so it will sound better to the manager herself. In most cases, the customer is out of the picture at judgement time. The qualified writer, of course, had the end-user in mind … but few who critique the writing will possess the same degree of perspective. Then, of course, the C-suite wonders why their advertising isn’t catching the industry on fire. Writers, can I get an “Amen”?

You see, if there is one point to remember – one point to embroider on company tee-shirts and drill solidly into the working fabric of every employee – it is this: Everything we do is aimed at helping the customer succeed, not at helping us succeed.

And, if that rule is solid, a correlative is this: Every message we deliver in the marketplace is not to impress ourselves or beat our own drum … it’s to let our preferred customers know who we are, let them know what we have to offer, and to be crystal clear about the benefits our products or services are ready to deliver to them.

The third fundamental of online advertising: You are in business to enrich the lives of others. Do that and you will prosper.

The case study, continued

Do you remember the PPC landing page story about the Danish company wanting to introduce a new audio headset? Their products are cutting edge and of exceptional quality. My son uses their TosBlue system to soundlessly play video games via the television without disturbing the rest of the family — all by Bluetooth; no wires needed.

Given the three fundamentals, what should their tagline be? Would “The best Bluetooth products in the world” be a good catch-phrase to help them launch? How about, “When sound matters” — is that a more reasonable approach?

Cast you vote in the comments below.

The fly in the ointment: Internet marketing isn’t as advanced as you believe it to be

As an undergraduate marketing student, Stuart Draper wanted to learn about internet marketing. His school offered one course: a month-long look at pay-per-click advertising. That was 2007. Stu was amazed at the lack of content aimed at students.

Last year, he again looked into the situation, and he found that only about half of the colleges he contacted offer focused internet marketing courses . Stu was so taken aback that he quit his corporate job to launch a program aimed at helping university students learn the vital differences between offline business and online business.

It’s about time. Most of the teaching resources available, yet today, don’t speak to students. Rather they concentrate on those already in the industry and to executives considering enterprise-level solutions.

Why don’t you and your staff do better at pay-per-click advertising? It may be because you are trying to approach it in the same way you approached case studies when you were in school and tackled street-level marketing afterwards.

It’s not enough to learn how to manipulate data on an Excel chart or make use of social media platforms to interact with people online; to be successful with internet advertising, one must focus on new ways of thinking.

Try the three fundamentals we’ve listed. Put them on like a freshly ironed shirt. They may just fit your current situation and help you achieve goals that now seem way out there in the distance.

BONUS: Want to try your hand at writing pay-per-click ads? Check out the new Conversion Max Ad Writing Tool: PPC Ad Tool


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Don Sturgill

Writer, Dreamer, Believer and Friend of Entrepreneurs, Don Sturgill is a freelance writer and the author of Roadmap to Freedom (Dream Into It), the field manual that helps entrepreneurs turn ideas into reality … fast. Don is from Bend, Oregon, PPC capital of the world. His home on the web is at donsturgill.com.

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