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Pay Per Click Advertising -- Can it Work for You?

If you have an online business, you may be considering what is called "Pay Per Click" (PPC) advertising. All the big search engines offer them: Google, Yahoo, Ask . . .

A couple of years ago, I signed up for a pay-per-click program with Google. I gave it a monthly budget that I felt was reasonable, set up my keywords, and . . . several years and several thousand dollars later . . .

Does it work? Does it not work? Like many, many other harried small business owners: I really only have a vague idea. I know that it could work, but I'm not sure if it is paying for itself or not.

I recently read two articles written by Ilana DeBare in the San Francisco Chronicle which made me sit up and take notice. The one that most caught my eye is hyperlinked here. The companion article is here .

Here's the summary: Ilana compares two owners of gourmet chocolate businesses. Both sign up for PPC advertising with completely different results. One company spent $3,000 over a three month period on PPC ads but only sold 5 boxes of chocolate as a result. A total bust!

The other company started out small, but currenty spends about $25,000 each three month quarter. I roughly calculated their resulting sales at $450,000 for the same period. Bottom line, one makes the PPC work, and the other doesn't.

Why the difference? The company with lackluster sales didn't do much to understand PPC and didn't really try to make it work. The other company had an inquisitive employee who threw himself into learning the ins and outs.

Read the articles if you are interested in the details. My personal takeaways that I'd like to pass on to you are:

1) I suspect PPC's work best for niche products that people are actively looking for (like gift chocolates). I think that most of my customers are making a consumable that would fit this description.

2) While you may be overwhelmed by all that you have to do as a small business owner, I believe that it your time is best spent doing a few smart things rather than many distracting things. It may be that carving out a couple of hours a week to educate yourself on PPC will be far more valuable than spending those same hours fussing over a label design or a new recipe.

3) If you really can't wrap your head around the ins and outs of PPC, don't beat yourself up. It is the kind of thing/activity/body of knowledge that is not going to appeal to everyone -- like accounting or inventory control. Consider finding someone who is willing to develop a program for you.

Now, if you don't have the money for such a program, look for my next post on SEO (Search Engine Optimization). After you read that, you really will have no more excuses. ; )

Kaila Westerman
President, TKB Trading, LLC

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