How much is one new client worth to you?
Read on to learn how we sent more than a million potential new clients to smaller businesses. Without breaking the bank.
The story starts in 2007.
Back then I knew nothing about the internet. I was a structral engineer.
I sold the house and cars and moved the wife and 4 kids halfway around the world for a job that didn’t exist. The worldwide financial crisis killed new construction the month I landed in the UK to work as a structural engineer. Highly qualified engineers were queueing at the Job Centre.
So I jumped at the chance when my friend, Peter Carruthers, asked me to dust off my programming skills and join his online training business.
He was teaching 1300 small business owners to use the internet to find customers. Google AdWords was part of the course.
The curriculum included keyword research, writing ad copy etc. Everything you'd need to build and run your own AdWords campaigns.
At the end of the training our students would be able to build an AdWords campaign and then sit back as new customers arrived, courtesy of Google.
And new customers did arrive.
Just could not wait to share this with you. I launched a website during last week targeting the divorce industry. I put up a google AdWords campaign and today I got my first sale.
Every week someone would tell us how amazing this was. We’d get emails with screenshots showing ads at the top of Google’s page. We'd get unsolicited testimonials. We'd get referrals saying "My mate did your course and says I have to do it."
But too many of our students were getting lost in the process.
- AdWords has more switches than a Boeing’s cockpit.
- The interface is complex and it changes as Google ads and removes features.
- You need to learn a new language. You have to master terms like ad group, CTR, QS, CPC, Target CPA etc.
- You have to read people's minds to decide what they're going to search for when they want what you sell.
- Then you have to understand how to get those searches to trigger your ads so they’re shown to the right people.
- The rules change and the market you compete in changes too.
It's easy to understand why there are so many horror stories about people getting a huge unexpected bill from Google.
We spent week after week teaching with varying results.
A few got their ads to the top of Google and sales started flowing in but the rest didn’t.
Then it hit me...
Our students needed a beginner's version of AdWords.
I built that beginner's version.
It walked our students through a step-by-step wizard to built an AdWords campaign. At the end, the program delivered a file to upload to Google.
The program had a very simple interface so it was fast and easy to learn. It chose the right settings for the kind of businesses they ran, and hid the settings that could lead to expensive mistakes.
We built in the best practices we'd been teaching and automated loads of the boring repetitive work.
It worked fantastically.
People who couldn’t spell AdWords on Monday got sales leads on Tuesday.
Self-proclaimed techno dinosaurs were getting their business to Google's front page in a couple of hours.
Our students went wild. They launched AdWords campaigns for more than 2 000 businesses.
They advertised everything:
- Industrial products like valves, cranes, pumps and conveyor belts.
- Personal goods and services like diamonds, contact lenses, prenup contracts and mediation.
- Familiar products like laundry equipment, electric gate repair and aluminium windows.
- Esoteric things like crop-circle tours and alternative healing.
Spent Friday setting up and the weekend tweaking a new Ad campaign and reinstating my old site using your tools. It was as easy as pie. Already had 3 leads!
I updated one of my campaigns to Marketing Motor a few days ago. I published it by about 6pm.
That same evening I received three leads. Two of the three leads have massive potential.
Even after only a couple of days, the new campaign is out performing the old campaign.
This should be the bit where I tell you how much money we made and show you pictures of my Ferrari. It's not. :(
AdWords was unprofitable.
Some of our students paid Google far more than they ever got back from the resulting sales.
I read somewhere that 96% of small business AdWords users never recover their costs. Our student’s results weren’t that bad but there were enough of them losing money for it to be a problem.
I’m not talking about people who had made obvious mistakes. Our AdWords building program prevented that. Their AdWords campaigns were fine. The ads were showing, they'd get clicked often, they were getting sales leads.
Why does a good AdWords campaign lose money?
I put everything we knew about the 2000 plus businesses into Excel to see if I could work out why some businesses made money from AdWords and others wasted it.
I had columns for business size, location, industry, competition, what they sold, how much Google traffic there was, how many ads etc.
It turns out that businesses that make money from AdWords share certain traits.
And, the businesses that waste money on AdWords are also similar.
Some businesses will always lose on AdWords.
The truth is, Adwords isn’t a good fit for every industry. Even if you get the technical end perfect you're still going to be unprofitable if:
- You run a very local business like a nail bar, coffee shop or hardware store.
- You operate in a fiercely competitive field like financial services or car hire.
- Your business model relies on lots of low value transactions .
The students that made more money from AdWords than they spent sold high value products, industrial equipment and specialised services.
We don’t teach the nitty gritty of AdWords anymore. AdWords in 2023 needs too much attention to be the best use of a business owner’s time.
Instead we use what we learned from those first 2 000 businesses to deliver a steady stream of new sales prospects to our clients.
No business can survive without a dependable regular flow of new prospects knocking on the door (or inbox, or telephone).
I don’t think it’s any secret that you have to have a regular flow of sales enquiries. Your business survival depends on getting in new clients, not just servicing the existing ones.
And if you’re not meeting new prospects, quoting and selling you’re not making any money.
What could knowing there'd be enquiries in your inbox every day do for you?
What could you do if the decision makers came to you, instead of you having try get past the gatekeepers to them?
What would your business look like in 5 years time if you were confident that you could plan, grow and hire because there was enough work in the pipeline?
Are you skeptical? You should be.
I bet you've already spent a load of money on a website without getting enough new business to pay for it. You've probably also paid for at least one site upgrade, still without covering the cost from new sales.
Perhaps you know someone who tried AdWords and didn’t get enough sales to justify it. Maybe it was you.
You’re not alone. For many, the promise of the internet hasn’t lived up to the hype. But, some firms get new sales leads every day from AdWords.
We are getting good leads from the new helipad lighting site. I've already had an order for a Rhino anti poaching helipad. Something that I support strongly.
There are two reasons why AdWords doesn't work.
- AdWords is wrong for your business. If your business has low value sales, if you operate locally only, or if your business is in a very competitive market you shouldn't use AdWords.
- AdWords was done wrong. "The way we did AdWords didn’t work", rather than "AdWords doesn’t work".
Finding clients through AdWords is a complex process. You have to get hundreds of things right to make it work. Get just one thing wrong and it breaks.
- if the lifetime value of each new client is significant;
- if you sell industrial goods like valves, pumps, cranes, hoists or machinery;
- if you offer specialised services, like temporary staffing, accounting software support or aerial survey;
- if your business process includes a quote or an estimate before doing the work like roofing, paving, window fitting etc;
- if each new customer is worth a lot, either from the first sale or from ongoing sales of spares, accessories or consumables;
... you owe it to your business to give AdWords a chance.
People search Google for what you sell. Every day. In your area.
There is a river of enquiries flowing past your front door. If you let them flow past they’re gone forever, but we can help you scoop some of them out.
Does AdWords fit your business? Contact us to find out.
On a few occasions I've had 4 enquiries per day. That surpasses my expectation. I've earned my first commission!
I've also submitted a tender for a nice job. Thank you.
"I can’t get to the decision maker."
That’s a problem we smaller business owners face a lot.
Once we’re in it’s easy. Most of us are good enough that customers keep buying. But it seems almost impossible to get past the gatekeepers to the right person in the first place.
Can I tell you about how a former client of mine got the decision makers to come to her?
She sold medical equipment, including high-ticket hardware like electrocardiographs and X-ray systems.
The firm faced two key challenges:
- Finding all those medical facilities that might need this kind of medical hardware.
- Getting a foot in the door. They guard the buyers with live dragons.
There weren't enough people searching Google for the big-ticket kit to use AdWords. Instead we asked her to tell us what else they sold that was low cost, low risk, and used by most medical facilities.
It turns out that surgical gloves were such a product.
We set up an advertising campaign that delivered about five enquiries for surgical gloves a day.
As each enquiry came in, a sales team member would call the prospect to confirm the details.
That’s a great phone call to make. You’re not trying to charm your way past a gatekeeper to arrange a meeting with someone who doesn’t want to talk to you and will cancel at the last minute anyway. Instead, you’re the most helpful person on the internet because you’re the only one who called back.
A salesperson would deliver the gloves personally. That got them face-to-face with the buyer to start building the relationships that would lead to the big sales. Over 12 months, five enquiries each day led to hundreds of new appointments and relationships.
The foot in the door approach isn't just for medical equipment.
Another client used a similar approach for something completely different. He sold winches and hoists for moving heavy things in factories.
These have to be inspected and certified every year. My client qualified as an inspector. We ran a Google AdWords campaign targeting people searching for these inspections.
He wouldn’t have got past reception if he wandered in off the street and asked to speak to someone about buying a new winch. But when he arrived to do the inspection he was a welcome guest. The maintenance manager would escort him through the factory. He'd show my client the equipment. My client would ask about things like cables, slings and shackles (that get replaced annually).
The next day my client would hand the the inspection certificate and a catalog of the equipment he sold to the maintenance manager personally.