In response to The Irresponsible Marketer
Having just read Mitch Joel’s latest post, I was going to post this as a comment, then when I got to writing it and it grew to longer than would be polite, or even that readable, as a comment.
To paraphrase, Mitch is saying that marketers should put as much as they can into search marketing, spending “whatever is left over for your more general branding campaigns”. Now I’m sure that Mitch is trying to seed a discussion rather than truly believing that we should give up on all other kinds of marketing efforts to concentrate on the low-hanging fruit and maximising our Adwords spend and hiring SEO experts..
What about cumulative effects?
I think this is a perfect case for ‘with, not instead of’, to quote Mitch again. Paid search, and to almost the same extent, well done SEO/content marketing efforts are eminently trackable. But what drove that search? Reading this post I immediately thought of David Ogilvy’s belief that a consumer needs to see a message multiple times before they act on it (though as he was head of an ad agency, one might question the number of exposures required).
Search gets all the credit
Search gets all the credit because it is often the last link in the chain, starting with awareness. Whether it makes sense to go further back down that chain depends on your business model. If you’re a reseller of a low margin product then you absolutely need to be concentrating the bulk of your spend on paid search, getting the customer when they know what they want to buy and they’re just looking for the ‘where from’. It’s not your job to educate the customer on what they need, that’s a task for the manufacturer of the product, which is where the other, less measurable parts of marketing come into play.
Sometimes paid search isn’t a good idea
To take the local restaurant example given by Matt Shaw, his boss won’t be clicking on an advert on Google after searching for the restaurant by name, it’ll be the link to the restaurant’s own website, Google Local listing, Yelp or some other directory/review site. What that example points out isn’t the value of paid search but the value of having a well executed online strategy including content marketing, building and maintaining a presence, all coupled with being damn good at your core business. What if the search was instead for a type of restaurant, with a search term of “Italian restaurant Minnesota”? In certain markets, particularly restaurants, adverts are the equivalent of paying someone to stand outside trying to attract custom, it will turn people off than convince them to dine with you. If on the other hand the restaurant has strong SEO and the all-important ‘being awesome‘ then it will do well for that generic search, because the independent reviews will bring in business more than even their own site will. You don’t become awesome by spending all your marketing budget on Adwords.
So what should we be doing?
Smart marketing is about targeting all of your efforts and measuring as much as you can and sometimes, going with your gut on something just because it feels right. It means working on multiple fronts, including paid and organic search to make sure you can be found for your business name and your important keywords. It means spending some of that budget on the customers you’ve already got, delighting them, getting them talking to their friends and colleagues about you and maximising word of mouth. It means more contact with your customers (yes, the marketing people might actually have to talk to a customer every now and then). It also means being smarter about asking the ‘what brought you to us’ question by allowing multiple answers, not giving all the credit to the latest one.
Image credit: Brianarn