If You Build It, Will They Come? How to Use PPC for Start Ups

If you build it they will come. Or will they?

If you build it they will come. Or will they?

Some astronomical amounts of start ups fail each year. There are many reasons why this happens, lack of organization, poor product planning, etc. But one specific shortcoming stands out in my mind as a marketer: lack of marketing. In the article above, it’s called Hubris:

“All too many entrepreneurs believe that “if you build a better mousetrap the world will beat a path to your door.””

Unfortunately, that’s just not the case. This isn’t Field of Dreams for mouse traps, ya’ll. Although not the only solution, PPC can be a great channel for start ups to get the word out about their new product and give themselves a real shot to succeed. Here are five reasons start ups should be utilizing PPC.

Solve Your Market’s Problem

Search advertising is all about answering the user’s call, no matter what format it takes. Many folks will take to a search engine to find the answer to their problem: specifically if they’re not sure what they need. Odds are, as a start up, your big idea is the solution to their problem. But since they’ve never heard of you, they can’t search for you. They can only search for what they think they need (potential substitutes) or for the specific problem they’re having.

Startups can use PPC to be the answer to that search. Think about what problems or solutions your target market will be searching for that you’re trying to answer. That’s the start of your first keyword list. Since PPC allows you to bid on just about anything, it’s a great channel for getting your product or solution introduced to a market that might not otherwise find you in those first crucial searches for a solution.

Immediate Results

JG Wentworth, speaking the thoughts of the marketer.

JG Wentworth, speaking the thoughts of the marketer.

Although longer term strategies like SEO are certainly a must for all start ups, they simply take time to really start having an impact. With PPC, you’re able to get in front of folks, no matter how competitive the keyword or how narrow the audience, and start getting the word out there. You’re then able to analyze your performance by slicing and dicing the data in just about any way imaginable using the ad channel platforms themselves (Google AdWords, Bing Ads, etc.) and your site analytics tool. Overall, for the folks who might consider themselves in the J.G. Wentworth camp of patience, PPC is certainly a good fit.

Budgets Are Flexible

Start ups typically have ebbs and flows of budgets. Sometimes you’re running on boot straps and just paying living wages (sometimes less) for employees. At other times, you’ve just gotten a big boost of funds and now you’re looking to maximize it’s impact.
PPC is just as flexible as you are in this regard. Your budget can be as small as $1/day, though I don’t recommend it, or as big as those marketing campaigns run by the household brands we all know and love. Additionally, there are resources out there that can allow you to share your budget across multiple campaigns so you’re spending wisely and in the manner you’re wanting.

Leverage Social Sharing

Search isn’t the only channel available. Odds are as a start up, you’ve done some persona exercises to know who your target audience is. If not, I highly suggest you do before starting to pay for online marketing. It can make your targeting decisions just that much easier. You can leverage those personas through search, but social can be a good way to get beyond the keyword.

Social networks allow you to reach your target audience in a meaningful way, then benefit from the inherent behaviors found on those channels. Ads on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc., give you the ability to boost your content, but also to gain any number of different engagement stats and reach beyond your original audience and into their social network. Each time someone likes, comments, or shares your ad, it goes even further than your original audience and into their own audience. Netting you more eyes on your new brand.

Fantastic Testing Ground

PPC doesn’t have to be just an exercise in getting the word out. Take some time and plan out a sound advertising strategy that lets you leverage the impressions, clicks, and potential conversions as more than just a glorified bull horn. These tests can actually help you make determinations about the future of your company.

With the amount of control PPC allows you to have, it’s easy to set up A/B or multivariate testing on just about anything. Here are just a handful of things your could test in PPC to inform your company decisions later:

  • Slogans
  • Benefit Statements: What does your audience see as your biggest benefit?
  • Calls to Action: Should you focus on sales, free trials, contacts?
  • Brand Look/Feel: Which logo or color scheme gained the most positive attention?
  • Brand Mood: Are you playful? Serious? Sarcastic?
  • Highest Value Audience: Did your new brand resonate best with the audience you thought, or were you surprised?
  • Highest Value Locations: Know where your new brand is resonating best so when those boost of budget come in, you can allocate them into the best performing markets first.

The testing ground seems nearly limitless for start ups. When in doubt, about nearly anything, set up a test and let your market decide for you.

How have you used PPC in your start up? Have you managed PPC for a start up before? What did you find the be the greatest benefits? Share with us in the comments!