Sem Or Pick Up The Phone

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How would you like to invest $20,000 and in return get $5000 of sales? Is paying Google for traffic the best strategy for you and what can you can do if it isn’t?

Turning $20k of advertising into $5k of sales

Evan and Walker together started teespring. It’s Kickstarter for T-shirts. Someone proposes a design and asks 50+ friends if they would like to buy it. If they get 50+ orders, the T-shirts are printed and shipped. Otherwise, nothing gets made and no one loses any money.

Evan and Walker talked to Andrew Warner in this mixergy interview about teespring. They said that they believed their product was what people needed. Both disliked sales, but loved writing code. They thought that Google would do the selling for them. Their strategy was simple:

  1. Buy advertising on Google
  2. People visit the website; and
  3. Wait for the cheques to roll in.

They were a little more sophisticated than that though. Evan and Walker monitored their campaign and began to optimise and tweak the keywords and ad text to increase their conversion rates.

Unfortunately for them, the cheques didn’t roll in. In fact they spent almost $20k on advertising and got $5k of sales.

Recognise that you’re not winning

Evan and Walker realised that Google ads (SEM or Search engine marketing) weren’t working for them. So they were forced to take action. How would you realise that SEM wasn’t working for you. Do you have a deliberate methodology in place so that you are aware of how well your ads are performing? And how early would you find out that something wasn’t going right?

A changed direction - cold calling

They knew from experience that emails and cold calling people made sales. But they were so reluctant to call potential customers on the phone. In fact they dreaded the “sales call”, it was an awkward situation that they didn’t want to be in. They knew that sales calls worked for them and still avoided them. Why?

They didn’t like sales calls because it didn’t fit with their personality. They preferred to write code, and optimise adwords to an awkward conversation on the phone with a stranger. Are there areas of your business that you avoid because it is awkward?

How to overcome the awkwardness

Walker hired an intern who loved talking to strangers on the phone, and it immediately made a difference. In the first month, the intern managed to double sales. Why? Because he wasn’t afraid of picking up the phone and making 30-40 calls a day to strangers. His personality fit perfectly. How can you ensure your awkward tasks get done, while still focussing on your business?

Is SEM a good fit for your business?

SEM is a great tool for a lot of businesses. Particularly ones in established niches. But teespring wasn’t in an established niche. No one was searching for “a Kickstarter for T-shirts”. Your business may fit this profile too. You are a young company trying to establish yourselves in a new market. Perhaps no one is searching for your kind of business yet! SEM wont work for you.

You know the right thing to do

Paul Graham talks about the concept of schlep in business. He defines it as tasks that we don’t want to do. Doing these tasks will scale and grow your company, but because of our “schlep blindness” you don’t do those things.

You know what is right for your business. It may be attending conferences, making phone calls, advertising in print or making deals with affiliates. You know these tactics work for you, but still don’t want to do them. Follow Walker’s example. Hire someone that is good in this area (even an intern) and measure the results.

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