Day 2: Google Ad

Thursday, February 27, 2003

The thing our business most lacks is marketing. And a company jet. But mostly the marketing. Our listings in the phone books has generated some calls, but most of those have been from people looking for jobs. We are listed in various search engines — from which, our referrer logs tell us, we do get some hits. For the most part, though, Smart Goat has remained in the shadows of the business world. While that’s a nice place for a hermit like myself, it doesn’t pull in the clients.

Advertising is absolutely essential to launching a small business. You can’t count on customers picking you from the hundreds of listings in the phone book. And people so rarely knock on our door and say, “Excuse me, is the web designer of the house at home?” Of course, we’re at work during the day, so maybe that’s when they come by.

There are a couple of tricks to a good advertisement. First, you have to get it in front of your target audience. For us, that’s small businesses in the Oklahoma City area that are looking for web designers. Next, you have to have noticeability. One way is to make up words, like, “noticeability.” Established businesses have reputations and large portfolios which attract attention. A business like ours, which hasn’t had a chance to earn those things yet, has to find other ways to get attention. Sometimes, we act out.

Our ad on GoogleToday, we signed up for Google’s AdWords program. We created an advertisement that will run on Google when people search for “Oklahoma City web design.” At any time, we can customize what the ad says, what keywords we want it to appear on, and how much we’re willing to spend for it. Our spending limit determines how high in the list our ad is likely to appear. We only pay when people click on our ad, which helps keep costs down for a company that’s just getting started. After looking at some of the ads that come up for the keywords we chose, we noticed a pattern: They were all frighteningly dull. Who knew there were so many web designers in Oklahoma that have tied for the best? So, we took a stab at standing out. Rather than make wild claims, we simply stated what we do, and tried to get a laugh. I don’t know about you, but the only ads I pay attention to are the funny ones. We hope our audience is like us.

There is more for us to do to maximize our exposure to our audience, but that is for another day.