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Q: I run a small services company in Lancashire. I’d like to win more business through our website, but our current website is not very good. What do you advise?

Services Company
West Lancashire

A: To promote your business on the web I’d recommend starting with Google Adwords.

It will win you sales leads.

Very briefly, Google Adwords are the “blue box” paid adverts that always appear when you search for something on the web.

The big plus with Adwords is that you only pay when someone clicks on your ad. You don’t have to pay for the actual advert itself. So if no one clicks on it, you pay nothing.

Another big advantage is that you can stop and start Adwords when you want. There is no commitment to a long contract.

The third plus is that you can set your budget limit and be sure that you won’t overspend. Google manage your budget for you.

There are additional advantages to this for a small services company operating on a regional rather than national basis.

National companies operating across the UK in tight competitive markets have to outbid each other to win the top position in the ad listings.

This gets expensive, and gets more expensive each year as companies try to outbid each other for the top positions.

By contrast, a small regional service will find the cost of an adwords campaign relatively cheap as there will likely be very little competition as many small businesses haven’t yet become aware of regional Adwords.

Obviously you won’t get the same amount of visitors from your local ad as a national ad, but it’ll be a lot cheaper. And probably more suited to your budget.

It’s only fairly recently that Google has been serving ads on a regional basis. Previously ads had to be national. So local companies were effectively excluded, as they didn’t want to pay for sales leads from the other end of the country.

Now there are regional adwords, and this presents a great opportunity for regional businesses to win more local sales leads.

And now is a good time to jump on the bandwagon that national companies have already successfully discovered, Do it early – now – before the prices go up.

How to get started

There are two choices for businesses who are adword beginners:

> Learn to do it yourself

> Pay someone to do it for you

Google provide a lot of online tutorial material to get you started. They even issue certificates of competence in adwords. So there’s a lot of help to make sure you get your adverts right, and you pay only as much as you need to in order to win the amount of additional business leads you need.

Accomplishing this takes a hefty time commitment as there’s a lot to learn for a beginner.

I would suggest that every company needs to make this time investment and be capable of running their own successful online advertising campaign.

Knowing how to run an online ad campaign is fundamental to any business. It’s a business life skill. It is as significant as when you first learned Word, or got email. Online advertising is one of those things you need to know.

So plan your time to make a start, and enjoy learning something that will almost certainly make you a profit.

Expect to learn about keywords, advertising copywriting, landing pages and web analytics.

Pay a specialist
This is a smart choice if you like paying.

You have to do the maths:

Will paying an adwords consultant recoup my costs and make me a worthwhile profit?

Here are the risks:

> The consultant may not be very good. So you need solid proof that they can deliver for you. This is more than “we made Acme a fortune inside 3 weeks” type of telephone chat. Speak to Acme, and dig to see what the successes and problems were.

> You can look at quotes from emarketing and web consultants and not properly understand what they’re suggesting. The easiest-to-understand quote may be easy to understand, but it mightn’t be what you need. Likewise, the cheapest quote may be hiding things that others are more honest and open about. Whoever you choose you’ll need someone who is prepared to explain what they mean in plain language, that you can understand. Otherwise don’t talk to them (after all, it’s your money!)

> The top Adwords consultants will be nice to you when you first buy. But once “you’re in” they’ll reserve all their time for their big spending customers. So don’t expect much service as a small business with a small spend.

Once you find a suitable consultant, listen to their advice and follow it. Expect to pay for this advice.

If everything goes as it should there’s no reason why promoting your business through a regional adwords campaign can’t make you grow by a third. The extra sales leads you win, when you factor in the lifetime value of a new customer, will build your company.

© Studio Rossiter 2007

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