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My Expensive, Dumb Mistake

When pay-per-click advertising first emerged, I

set up a small monthly budget to test it out.

I was running PhoneBookUSA.com, and I wanted to
test PPC and drive traffic to our site.

I deposited $500 and bought a few keywords.
Since we were a Yellow Pages publisher, the first
phrase I bought was “Yellow Pages.”

I think the clicks were about 5 to 15 cents each,
so this would give me a good long time to
experiment with the campaign.

I didn’t know the phrase “Yellow Pages” was such a
frequently searched term.

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That’s when I panicked !

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panic

I watched in horror as my meager funds were
consumed before the end of the first day.
My mistake was running a widely distributed ad
using general search terms.  Then I confessed my
sins to my surprisingly understanding,
techno-phobic boss.  I found out later he had
absolutely no idea what I was talking about, but
$500 wasn’t going to break the bank.

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More specific copy => more selective buyers

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I know now to use highly specific search terms such
as “Indianapolis house painter” that generate far
fewer clicks, but with vastly higher quality.

I was reminded of this lesson last week when I was
helping Vinnie create a print ad (and website
copy) for his precision metal fabrication company.

[Disclaimer: I don’t want this to sound like a
commercial for advertising with us.  Focus on the
principles.]

Vinnie the metal fabricator is running an ad in
our HomePages Community Telephone Directories.

Since we saturation mail to every family,
business, and post office box holder, he thought
his ad should be more general in nature.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Not so fast, Tin Man.

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tin man

Vinnie only wants to attract HVAC contractors,
machine shops, and other manufacturers, so he
needs an ad that will only appeal to those
sophisticated buyers.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

From one metal head to another

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Vinnie speaks “metal,” his customers speak
“metal.”  So we wrote his ad copy in “metal.”

We designed an ad featuring precision laser cutting,
his ISO 9001 certification, and his Miller
Robotics Thermal Arc Plasma Welding System.  We
listed technical specs, and directed technical
buyers to his website for detailed information and
RFPs (whatever those are).

This will only appeal to sophisticated, targeted
potential customers, and sound like gibberish to
the general public.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Has Vinnie gone mental?

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Is Vinnie crazy to advertise technical services in
a community directory?

The directory is not targeted to his audience, but
it is definitely used by everyone he wants to
reach.

The saturation mailing supplemented with hand
delivery to every business ensures it will be in
the hands of his prospective customers.

Every local business advertiser (218 in Vinnie’s
home town) will certainly look through the books
to see their own ads and to see what their
competitors are doing.

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But will the economics work?

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Voo Doo Economics
voo doo economics

Vinnie’s half page ad cost him $585 per year, and
his average customer spends over $3,000 with him.
So Vinnie needs to get one customer every three or
four years to pay for his ad.

It’s a low-risk, high-return investment.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The lesson is for businesses selling precision

products:


Use highly specific, technical terms that a

sophisticated buyer will recognize.  The right

buyers will instantly know the ad is speaking

to them.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

If you’re a corporate tax specialist, talk only to
the sophisticated buyers who might hire you, and
ignore everyone else.  You will connect with the
right people.

And if you need your plasma to be arc welded, see
my buddy Vinnie.

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