Are Google Adwords the answer?

online advertisingVarious questions seem to pop up in groups within my practice. This past week, the topic that is poking its head above ground like a crocus in early March is the topic of Google Adwords.

To the casual observer, the Google Adwords program appears to be the key Effortless Marketing Magic.

  • Not enough web site traffic? Google Adwords is the easy answer.
  • Not enough sales?  Again, Google Adwords is the easy answer.
  • Need a tighter target?  Google Adwords is the easy answer.

I have clients who are inquiring about Google Adwords before their web site development has begun.  Clients who have yet to provide documentation on their anticipated product and service offerings are already signed up for Google Adwords!

Like any other marketing tool, Google Adwords is the GREATEST THING since sliced bread when it’s used correctly.  When used improperly though, it is a recurring nightmare which will run up your credit card balances faster than a lovesick teen racks up overages on your cell phone bill.

For example, I had one client who signed up with a self proclaimed “Google Adwords  Gurus”.    Long story short, my client ended up with a HUGE Google Adwords bill and not a single product sale or even newsletter sign up as a result.    Unfortunately, her experience is NOT unique.

In order to run a successful Google Adwords campaign, you have to have a clear target audience in mind.  You must already have mastered everything from writing compelling and selling content to meticulous order fulfillment.  You have to have a GOOD idea of what keywords your current visitors are using when they arrive at your site.   Only then are you ready to launch your Google Adwords campaign.

Even then, you have to THINK about where you want those ads displayed!  Long ago, when you signed up for Google Adwords, you were signing up to have your ads displayed worldwide.  Now, you can target your ads to a specific geographic location.  Some one should have told Arizona Furniture’s Adwords manager about that feature.

Backstory: Last weekend, I lost it.  My 14 year old cat compulsively chews on the pads of his front left paw.   (I blame myself as I had him declawed 13 years ago, shortly after he adopted us and made short work of my drapes!)  About once a month, he causes the pad to bleed and leaves a bloody footprints everywhere he steps.  (We’ve tried bandaging the paw, but it just makes matters worse.)  My tile floors clean easily, but my 2 year old beige microfiber furniture is stained beyond repair.  (So much for that scotch guard crap!)

Last Saturday, after I tried to spot clean the latest deposits… I had reached my breaking point.   I headed to my computer to begin shopping for leather furniture.  (Interesting note:  The cat is the reason we didn’t purchase leather furniture in the first place!  We feared he’d tear up the furniture with his hind claws.)

Back to Google Adwords and the Arizona Leather Furniture Company.  I head to Google and type in the search terms “wholesale leather furniture”.  Because I haven’t ignored Adwords ads for this search, I am presented with three sponsored links.  The ad’s content reads: “Quality Leather Furniture: Custom Made Leather Furniture To Fit Your Home & Lifestyle”

I arrive at the index page of the site, where I am assured that they ship nationwide.  Good, because when I click on store locations, I see their stores are clustered in the Southern California/Arizona area.  Since I’m in southern Florida, the headline encourages me to continue onward.  Then I click to see their offerings.  Well, the furniture is lovely but there’s no description of the product dimensions… no product description…. no price!  Suddenly, it dawns on me.  This site was designed to allow the Southern California resident to “pre-shop” the store from the comfort of their home.

Such a site is a GREAT idea, especially in highly populated areas where traffic congestion makes “pre-shopping” a necessity instead of a luxury.  However, displaying that ad to me, as I pre-shop in Southern Florida is a waste and an unnecessary waste at that!  How many shoppers residing in Maine, Missouri, Kansas and Virginia have clicked that ad?  What a waste and an unnecessary one at that!

Google Adwords is a GREAT way to issue “virtual invitations” to discover your business.  If your business is limited by the constraints of geography, you can limit who sees your invitation thanks to Google’s ability to target geographically where your ads are displayed.   In other words, the Arizona Leather Furniture Company could have specified that their ad only be displayed to people logging in from IP addresses in the SoCal and Tempe areas.  The only value I can see in not limiting the geographical locations for the ads’ display is so that some marketing firm can report big numbers to their client… with an equally big Google Adwords bill on the side!  (That’s what happens when you pay your agency a % of spend instead of on a % of results.)

Without a marketing plan in place… without a well defined, tightly targeted audience… well… Google Adwords then becomes just another way to drain cash from your accounts.

Need help with getting inside your target customer’s head?  Pick up a copy of my book Beyond the Niche: Essential Tools You Need to Create Marketing Messages that Deliver Results for a step by step process you can follow to figure out the who, what where and most importantly WHY customers buy.


  1. […] by a post. For example, when I was complaining about my cat and his OCD issues in the post “Are Google Adwords the Answer?” I got several emails from concerned clients who wanted to help my demented self mutilating […]