The conversation below took place between 2 successful business owners I know. It centered around online marketing – specifically PPC and SEO. But the lessons extend far beyond those two tactics.
Lessons that, as you’ll see, even some successful business owners don’t get (and could be hugely MORE successful if they did).
First a brief intro to the 2 biz owners (names have been changed to protect the guilty)…
One, Susan, is the owner of a huge business that has grown from serving clients locally in 5 marketing to serving over 40 markets around the U.S.
The other, Tom, has built up a successful business (arguably the largest in his industry) that operates in one local market.
Susan started out asking Tom about what online marketing strategies and tactics he’s using:
Tom: We hired someone who’s managing things for us online.
Susan: What sorts of things is he doing?
Tom: A little SEO and some pay per click (PPC) too.
Susan: What’s your monthly PPC budget?
Tom: Umm, not sure. About $500 a month I think
Susan: Are you getting any business from it?
Tom (unsure): Yes, I think so.
Susan: Well, if you’re getting business from it, how come you’re not spending more?
Tom: We only budgeted $500 a month.
Susan: Okay. But if you’re spending $500 and it’ making your money and getting you customers, why don’t you increase the budget?
Tom (a little uncomfortable at this point): I don’t know, that’s just what we have budgeted.
Susan: Our PPC budget is about 300 times what yours is. We track all our leads closely and I know that the campaigns are profitable so we keep spending more on PPC because we know when we do, we make more.
Tom: Actually I don’t really know if we’re getting new clients from it or not.
Susan: Are you tracking the calls from your PPC campaign?
Tom: No. We can’t do that.
Susan: Actually you can. There are a lot of call tracking options out there.
Tom (getting a little defensive): Well, I don’t want to use them because if a client keeps that tracking number, they won’t be able to reach us if they try to call us again in the future.
The conversation goes on from there, but let’s just stop things right there.
There are 2 important concepts Tom’s not getting here. And he’s not alone.
The first is the idea of Marketing as an investment.
Let’s say you had a slot machine that paid out $1.50 or $2 or $5 for every dollar you put in. Would you cap how much money you put into it?
So why should it be any different with marketing?
A marketing budget is a starting point. Think of your initial investment as R&D. It’s money you invest to see whether or not prospect respond to your marketing campaign.
If they don’t, then you try something different to find something that does work.
And when you do find something that works, then you get to work optimizing and expanding so it can generate more leads and clients for you.
However, in order to do this, you have to be tracking and measuring your results.
For a local business owner, that means tracking leads from form fills on your website. It also means using call tracking (because, for a local biz, most leads will come via the phone).
Which brings us to the 2nd concept that Tom didn’t quite get.
It’s regarding call tracking.
First, call tracking is cheap. You can hold onto numbers for a long time and it won’t cost you much.
But even if Tom didn’t hold onto call tracking numbers for a long time, is it really that big a deal? How many clients would that really affect?
And by using a call tracking number, Tom will have a crystal clear picture of which PPC campaigns are working for him and which ones aren’t.
Taken a step further, if Tom started using Dynamic Call tracking on his Google AdWords campaigns he’d be able to pinpoint the exact keywords and ads that make his phone ring!
Which is incredibly valuable information. It would enable Tom to stop spending money on unprofitable PPC campaigns, keywords and ads.
Which would save him money. And let him take the money he saved and invest it in PPC campaigns, keywords and ads that ARE profitable.
Listen, Tom’s a savvy biz owner and a great salesman. Just one look at the company he’s built and you can see that.
But even smart biz owners can have some blind spots. And Tom’s blind spots about PPC marketing are not unique to him at all. Lots of biz owners (many way less successful than Tom) have the same ones.
For Tom, he’s been able to build an impressive business even with these blind spots. But I’d say he’s the exception rather than the rule.
Bottom line here is marketing – especially PPC marketing – comes down to the numbers. Get to know yours and watch the investment in your marketing lead to many happy returns.